Michelle Zauner, singer and guitarist of the music project Japanese Breakfast, released her debut book in 2021. The memoir follows Zauner as she recounts growing up as an Asian-American in a predominantly white town, her relationship with her mother, the beginning of her band and the complex emotions grappling with illness in the family. The memoir is rich with emotion, humor and heart, with Zauner leaving fans begging for more of her writing in the future.
2. "Last Night at the Telegraph Club" by Malinda Lo
Set in 1954, with threats of Red Scare paranoia and heightened prejudice everywhere, two girls find themselves meeting in the Telegraph Club, a lesbian nightclub in Chinatown. With the risk of her father being deported despite having citizenship, Lily and Kath risk everything to explore this exciting new place and relationship.
3. "On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous" by Ocean Voung
Vuong's debut novel tells the story of a man in his twenties writing a letter to his mother in Vietnam, who is unable to read and suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The book explores a long family history with an honest reflection on race, class and masculinity in conjunction with the love of a single mother and how to find joy in difficulties. This novel deals with themes of abuse and addiction, so if those are sensitive topics for you, please take note.
4. "Frangipani" by Célestine Hitiura Vaite
This novel, set in Tahiti, tells the story of professional cleaner Materena Mahi, one of the "lovingest" and "wisest" women on the island. After her husband goes missing and she discovers she is pregnant with a daughter, "Frangipani" paints the picture of a mother-daughter relationship built on island folklore, gossip, love and growing up at any age.
5. "Loot" by Tania James
"Loot" is a historical fiction novel that takes place in eighteenth-century India. The novel combines classic elements of a hero’s quest, a love story and coming of age through the eyes of a young artist, Abbas, grappling with colonialism in the face of the British Empire. When the tiger statue that Abbas created for Tipu Sultan is stolen by British forces, he must retrieve the statue to prove his worth and abilities to his country and himself.
6. "House of Many Gods" by Kiana Davenport
"House of Many Gods" is set against the backdrop of Hawaii and Russia in the 1960s, spanning to the present. It focuses on Ana, a physician raised by her extended family on the island of O'ahu. Ana then meets Russian filmmaker Nikolai, who is hiding a tragic past and is focused on recording the ecological disasters in his home country and across the Pacific. Together, the pair takes the novel from rural Hawaii to the Arctic of Russia to the shininess of "new Moscow" in a story that shows the struggles of poverty, military occupation and family drama at odds with an unlikely love.
7. "A Sweet Mess" by Jayci Lee
Aubrey Choi is running her successful bakery away from the watchful eye of her strict Korean parents in California when a food critic writes a bad review after a cake mix-up. When the review threatens her livelihood, critic Landon Kim comes into her bakery, trying to clean up the mess he made. Landon forms a plan, and the pair decide to spend three weeks in California wine country working together to save the bakery. Aubrey is then left feeling conflicted: does she stick it out to save her business or risk falling in love with the jaded critic that she seems to recognize from somewhere else?