Last year, I compiled this list of short story collections by Asian authors, declaring 2021 the year of the short story. But as it turns out, my reading habit continues to show no signs of coming back in full force any time soon, so for better or for worse, perhaps it will actually be the decade of the short story for me.
Short stories are a relatively recent discovery for me, having only started consciously picking up collections here and there some years back. And spoiler alert: they’re kinda the best! As much as I once loved the feeling of getting swept up and finding my whole life revolving around the expansive stories of novels and series, I’ve begun to find the short form increasingly appealing and wonderful. I marvel at the ability of short story writers to transport me to new places, make me feel things, and ask me huge questions of life and humanity, all in such a short span.
As with my previous list, I am focusing here on Asian authors to highlight the breadth of perspectives from Asia and the Asian diaspora and to manifest my wish for audiences to engage more widely with those perspectives. Here is a selection of new short story collections, all by Asian authors, that will be or have already been released in 2022.
2022 Short Story Collections by Asian Authors
Seasons of Purgatory by Shahriar Mandanipour, Translated by Sara Kahlili
This is the first short story collection by acclaimed Iranian author and journalist Shahriar Mandanipour to be translated to English. Mandanipour is known for his ability to create surreal worlds that simultaneously reflect and offer sharp social commentary on the real world.
Seeking Fortune Elsewhere by Sindya Bhanoo
Sindya Bhanoo’s debut collection explores the experiences of South Indian immigrants and the family members they leave behind. These haunting, intimate stories center women and their complicated paths of hope and regret as they discover the costs of leaving or staying.
I went to casually leaf through this book and then suddenly realized 45 minutes had passed and I had devoured the first two stories, having been sucked in to them in a way I haven’t been sucked in by reading in months. This collection of 12 speculative stories feels all at once strange and familiar, presenting surreal versions of our world that scrutinize and illuminate the realities of human nature.
Thank You, Mr. Nixon by Gish Jen
Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of President Nixon’s resumption of diplomatic ties with China, this collection examines U.S.-China relations through the eyes of the ordinary people affected by them. Through these unique, provocative stories, Jen explores questions of identity and how people and history shape each other.
The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories Edited and Collected by Yu Chen and Regina Kanyu Wang (Tordotcom, March 8)
The subtitle for this anthology was all I needed to see to be completely sold: A Collection of Chinese Science Fiction and Fantasy in Translation from a Visionary Team of Female and Nonbinary Creators. Tell me you’re not preordering or requesting for your library immediately.
People from Bloomington by Budi Darma, Translated by Tiffany Tsao (Penguin Classics, April 12)
People from Bloomington was initially published in its original Indonesian back in 1980, and after just over 40 years, an English translation is being released. Budi Darma was an incredibly influential Indonesian writer, and he wrote this collection set in Bloomington, Indiana, following his time living there as a graduate student. In a counterpoint to the western gaze on the east, Darma sharply yet compassionately paints a picture of the “strangeness” of small-town America.
Hawa Hawa by Nabarun Bhattacharya, Translated by Subha Prasad Sanyal (Seagull Books, April 19)
Nabarun Bhattacharya was a prominent Indian countercultural writer in the Bengali language. In these inventive stories ranging from the satirical to the surreal, he crafts an illuminating examination of the social and political climate of the Bengal region.
The Partition by Don Lee (Akashic Books, April 26)
This collection of nine stories is a stunning and far-reaching exploration of Asian American identity. Award-winning writer Don Lee has been telling stories of Asian America for over two decades, and this latest book is yet another display of his craft and mastery.
The Peanutbutter Sisters and Other American Stories by Rumi Hara (Drawn and Quarterly, May 17)
In this unique collection of short comics, Rumi Hara turns tropes of the American comics canon on its head. Through her playful use of absurd elements interwoven with reality, Hara commands the reader’s attention with these strange and charming stories.
Life Ceremony by Sayaka Murata, Translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori (Grove Press, July 5)
This is the first short story collection by Sayaka Murata, author of the acclaimed Convenience Store Woman, to be translated to English. Similarly to her novel, Murata shines a light on the outcasts of society, playing with and questioning the status quo.
Her First Palestinian by Saeed Teebi (Astoria, August 2)
The stories in Saeed Teebi’s elegant and intense collection throw the reader into the lives of Palestinian immigrants in Canada. As we watch these characters navigate their identities and varying circumstances, Teebi asks us to engage with and offers insight on the experience of the Palestinian diaspora.
Tomorrow in Shanghai by May-Lee Chai (Blair, August 30)
In this follow-up to her award-winning collection Useful Phrases for Immigrants, May-Lee Chai tells vibrant tales of an increasingly multicultural and globalized world through a focus on China and Chinese diaspora. Not only does Chai tackle the topics of race and culture, but also explores their intersections with class, age, gender, and more with great nuance and depth.
A Few Extra Recs…
In Everything I See Your Hand (University of New Orleans Press, June 23) will be a posthumous release by Armenian American writer Naira Kuzmich. Though the country of Armenia is located in West Asia, I am aware that there is an ongoing conversation within the Armenian community about identity, with some identifying more as Middle Eastern (West Asian), while others identify more as Eastern European. I did want to include this book, though, to acknowledge the fact that — as reflected in Kuzmich’s gorgeous stories about life in the Little Armenia neighborhood of Los Angeles — the experiences of the Armenian diaspora are certainly comparable to other Asian (and other POC) immigrant communities.
And also look out for these releases by a couple authors who had stunning debut novels released in 2020:
- Self-Portrait with Ghost (Mariner Books, July 5) by Meng Jin, author of Little Gods
- Gods of Want (One World, July 12) by K-Ming Chang, author of Bestiary