Asian literature is as rich and diverse as the continent itself, encapsulating the culture, traditions, sights, smells and sounds of this entrancing part of the world. From diaspora to dynasties, magic to war and everything in between, the Asian canon is one that continues to produce outstanding works from incredibly talented artists.
If you’re looking for Asian literature Australia then here are a few classics to get you started.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (Ocean Vuong)
This heartbreakingly beautiful novel is written in the form of a letter from a young Vietnamese American to his mother in Vietnam who cannot read. The novel evokes the experience of escaping the hardships of the Vietnam War only to experience struggles as an immigrant family in the US.
This is a truly moving story about the immigrant experience in the US, the incomprehensible hardships of the Vietnam War and the difficulty of trying to maintain connection between family members with such great distance between them.
Pachinko (Min Jin Lee)
This wondrous historical novel follows four generations of the one Korean family as they attempt to integrate into Japanese society. Facing constant legal and social discrimination, the family opens a pachinko parlour, pachinko being a slot machine-style game that is popular throughout Japan.
A gorgeous, immense story, Pachinko was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction as well as being named one of the 10 best books of 2017 by The New York Times.
Little Fires Everywhere (Celeste Ng)
The most recent novel on this list, Little Fires Everywhere is a fascinating tell about motherhood and privilege in the US. The novel is about Mia, a transient artist, and her daughter Pearl, who find themselves in the middle class Shaker Heights area of Ohio.
They become entangled with a middle class family and are soon locked in a custody battle over the adoption of a Chinese baby, with life-altering consequences. Little Fires Everywhere remained at No. 1 on The New York Times’ best sellers list and has since become a Hulu program starring Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon.
The Sympathizer (Viet Thanh Nguyen)
The Sympathizer is a groundbreaking achievement that earned author Nguyen a Pulitzer Prize upon its release. Nguyen’s novel seeks to tell the story of the Vietnam War from a Vietnamese perspective, something which the author decided to do upon realising that western works on the war only portray from western viewpoints.
The Sympathizer tells the story of a US-educated Vietnamese man working as a spy for the North Vietnamese. Upon the Fall of Saigon the unnamed narrator is sent as a refugee back to the US and is then recruited to spy on his comrades.
The Namesake (Jhumpa Lahiri)
One of the greatest novels to capture the immigrant experience in the US, Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake is a beautiful story that recounts a Calcutta family’s immigration to their new home.
Ashoke and Ashima move to Cambridge, Massachusetts, so that Ashoke can start his new job in engineering. Ashoke is quick to adopt American values whilst Ashima yearns for her homeland. They have a son, Gogol, who in turn struggles to decide on which of his parents’ way of life is more suited for him.
The novel has since been adapted into a feature film directed by Mira Nair.
The readers will compare how different books writers are, how differ is their writing styles. They will be able to analyze the main features of writer’s text.