10 Notable Asian American Books of 2012

December 20, 2012


Yet another knock-down, drag-out fight-to-the-end occurred this year
among Hyphen’s books section writers when we convened to decide our fave books
of 2012. Some of us are still icing our bruises with chilled leftover Pabst
cans from the holiday party. While the list below is by no means definitive (there's just too much literary goodness to choose from), we think we did a pretty
damn fine job. Don’t believe us? Go
ahead and read the books below after you gift them to yourself and others. And
feel free to append our list with suggestions of your own in the comments box. 


Gone to the Forest by Katie

The precarious relationship between a father and a son is brought to
the ultimate test in this tightly-written novel set amid colonial landscapes.  Full review here.

Gods without Men by Hari Kunzru

Disjointed storylines about disparate characters center upon an Indian American
husband and Jewish wife whose lives are transformed following their son’s
disappearance in the supernatural Mojave desert. Full review here.

The Collective by Don Lee

Dialogue-driven prose about three Bostonian college undergrads who form
an art collective and learn about the dangers of friendship. Full review here.

Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil

A transsexual burkha-wearing sex worker searches for beauty and
transcendence while managing her addiction to opium. Full review here.


I Am an Executioner: Love Stories by Rajesh

Nine tales that present the world through the eyes of the
misunderstood, the murderous, the megalomaniacs, and the mad.  Full review here.

Monstress: Stories by Lysley Tenorio

The lives of eccentrics collide in these dark yet uproarious tales. Full review here.

Sorry Please Thank You: Stories by Charles Yu

Sci-fi-inspired tropes and plots mine emotional truths we might take for granted. Full review here.


For the City that Nearly Broke Me by Barbara Jane Reyes

Urban grit and rhythms reach for mythical home across cities divided by race, sexuality, and class. 


Shattered: The Asian American Comics Anthology (Secret Identities) by Jeff Yang, Parry Shen, Keith Chow and Jerry Ma

A comic book that smashes stereotypes while exploring the complicated borders that villified people inhabit. Full review here.


Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin

A young runaway meets a mysterious traveler who encourages him to tell his story. Full review here.


Abigail Licad


Abigail Licad is one big FOB and damn proud of it. She grew up in the Philippines and immigrated to San Leandro, CA at age 13.  She has a BA from University of California, Berkeley and a master's degree in literature from Oxford University. Her poetry and book reviews have appeared in Calyx, Borderlands, The Critical Flame, and the LA Times, among othersShe has formerly served as Hyphen's editor in chief.