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Live Better 3 Short Story Collections By Asian Authors That You Need To Know

3 Short Story Collections By Asian Authors That You Need To Know

(Photo: Unsplash)
By Agnes Shu
July 20, 2020
Haven’t got the time for a full-fledged novel? These short story collections are the perfect summer read. Fall back in love with reading without the commitment, while immersing yourself in the intricacies of Asian culture

Submerge yourself in the worlds of these three short story collections by Asian authors: Vietnamese Viet Thanh Nguyen, Hong Kong native David T.K. Wong, and Indian immigrant Jhumpa Lahiri. Each draw from their own experiences, while proving that character development and a captivating plot are possible even in just a few pages. 
If reading sometimes feels like an indulgence when there are so many other commitments to see to, these short stories will make for the perfect summer read.

The Refugees, Viet Thanh Nguyen (2017)

The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Photo: Amazon)
The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Photo: Amazon)

Pulitzer prize winning contemporary author Viet Thanh Nguyen does it again with The Refugees, a collection of nine short stories written over a period of 20 years. Between the various settings in both Vietnam and America, sharp observations by Nguyen capture the minutiae of life and human conflict, and how this is translated into the lives of refugees and Asian immigrants.
From Black-Eyed Woman, to The Transplant, to Fatherland—each story is as striking as implied by their title; featuring everything from the culture shock of a young Vietnamese man transported to bohemian San Francisco, to the story behind a haunted ghost-writer addressing the literal and figurative ghosts in her life. With a deliberate diversity of perspectives, there is a story for everyone—a personal favourite short story from this collection being The Other Man.

Available on Amazon

Collected Hong Kong Stories, David T.K. Wong (1996)

Collected Hong Kong Stories by David T.K. Wong (Photo: Blacksmith Books)
Collected Hong Kong Stories by David T.K. Wong (Photo: Blacksmith Books)

Partially inspired by Wong’s own tales as a journalist, educator, government official, and businessman in Hong Kong, these 18 collected short stories reflect the disparities of the Hong Kong aristocracy and beyond.
Wong captures the intricacies of the urban jungle and translates them into the livelihood of each of his characters in different ways—making this collection one to watch for any Hong Konger interested in seeing the things they know and love come to life on paper, or foreigners looking to gain a deeper insight to everything from the subtleties of Hong Kong culture to the secrets of the city’s aristocracy. With titles ranging from Blood Debt, to Szeto’s Bar, to Hammer and Tong, each story is a different perspective to Hong Kong. Personal favourites include Cocktail Party and The Card Index.

Available on Amazon

Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri (1999)

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (Photo: Amazon)
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (Photo: Amazon)

Interpreter of Maladies is a fitting name and overarching theme for this short story collection. As a first-generation American born to Indian immigrants, Jhumpa Lahiri certainly has a lot to draw from in her debut collection, which won a Pulitzer prize for Fiction in 2000. Cloying tales of love and heartbreak in tandem with self-discovery, Lahiri captures the emotional journeys of the individual identities she features and the way in which our lives are intertwined with one another.
From the insecurity, pitfalls, yet comfort that honesty can bring, to the impact of our own warped and biased perspectives on relationships, Lahiri will leave any reader left contemplating their own life and aspirations. Favourites are difficult to choose with this collection, but a personal shortlist includes A Temporary Matter, Interpreter of Maladies (which the collection takes its name from), and Sexy, which documents a love affair.

Available on Amazon


Live Better summer reading list short stories asian authors short story collection summer reading David T K Wong Jhumpa Lahiri Interpreter of Maladies The Refugees Viet Thanh Nguyen The Sympathizer Pulitzer Prize winner


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