A former OZY editor, Sathian once rented an entourage to stalk her like a Hollywood star for a story. We are admittedly biased, but Sathian no longer needs to fake it. Having joined the famed Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2017, she just released her debut novel, Gold Diggers, to critical acclaim. The coming-of-age tale peppered with magical realism has been snapped up for TV by comedian Mindy Kaling. Beginning in Sathian’s hometown of Atlanta, the novel centers around the Indian American writer’s idea of belonging — a theme Sathian has been grappling with after the shooting of six Asian American women in Atlanta last month.
2. Kevin Nguyen
This Brooklyn resident’s debut novel, New Waves, was named one of NPR’s best books of 2020. It also garnered high praise from fellow Vietnamese American novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen and Little Fires Everywhere author Celeste Ng. An editor at The Verge, Nguyen sets his story at a tech startup and explores topics of both race and discrimination. The book “captures beautifully the subtle strains of being disenfranchised, poor and lonely in New York,” The New York Times says, teasing the plot as if Jay Gatsby had worked at a startup.
3. Simon Han
With his 2020 debut novel, Nights When Nothing Happened, Han examines the Chinese immigrant experience through a story about a family living in Texas — one he can relate to, having been born in Tianjin, China, before settling in Carrollton, Texas. TIME called it a “haunting” novel that asks “whether immigrants in America can ever feel truly safe.” Despite the Cheng family’s achievements in their adopted country and safe suburban life, each of the main characters suffers from terrible insomnia, allowing a sense of unease to permeate the novel.
4. Anthony Veasna So
Many Khmer Americans feel torn between two worlds, as I discovered while working as a journalist in Cambodia. Tragically, the author of this short story collection — who once described himself as “a grotesque parody of the model minority” — died last year at 28. His collection focuses on intergenerational relationships between traumatized refugee parents who escaped the Khmer Rouge and their American children.