Celebrate Pride with a range of fictional works by Asian authors! From future dystopian worlds to ghostly fantasies and tales of self-discovery, these stories honour the journeys of LGBTQ individuals and the larger movement for love, acceptance, and equality for all.
The Membranes by Chi Ta-wei
Set in the late 21st century dystopian world where humanity lives in underwater domes to escape climate change, it tells the tale of Momo, a celebrated dermal care technician who keeps to herself. After meeting her estranged mother, she begins to explore her true identity. This visionary novel, first published in 1995, weaves dystopian tropes like technological domination, social media saturation, and sinister surveillance technologies into a sensitive portrait of one young woman’s quest for self-understanding. It stands out for its queer and trans themes, exploring gender and sexuality against a backdrop of a hybrid punk world.
Black Water Sister by Zen Cho
A reluctant medium fights gods, ghosts, gangsters, and grandmas in 21st century Penang contemporary fantasy. Jess is closeted, broke, and moving back to Malaysia, a country she left when she was a toddler. Then she starts the voice of her dead grandmother, Ah Ma. In life, Ah Ma was a spirit avatar of a mysterious deity called the Black Water Sister hellbent on settling a score against a gang boss. And Jess is going to be the “body” to help her do it. Chock full of over-the-top family drama involving Ah Ma and her mom, Jess is trying to forge her own identity as she navigates the ghosts of her family’s secrets.
The Walk-In Closet by Abdi Nazemian
Kara has always longed to have the same lifestyle her best friend, Bobby Ebadi, and his sophisticated parents Leila and Hossein. So when the wealthy Ebadis assume that Kara is Bobby’s girlfriend, she willingly steps into the role, enjoying perks like Leila’s designer hand-me-downs and free rent. As Kara’s turning 30, Bobby’s parents expect Kara to be the next Mrs. Ebadi. The only problem is that Kara really is just Bobby’s roommate; they let his traditional Persian parents think otherwise so that Bobby can stay in the closet. How far would they go to continue the farce?
Gold by the Inch by Lawrence Chua
The protagonist is a New Yorker of Asian descent who’s returned to the country of his birth, Thailand, where he falls in love with Thong, a gay hustler. As his romantic obsession with Thong grows, he’s quickly forced to reexamine the connections between desire and exploitation, personal and national identity. Travelling from Thailand to Penang, the book vividly combines Southeast Asia’s culture, its colonial past, the cool futurism, and its sex industry. Excluded at home and abroad, his search for an authentic Thai identity is met with distrust and amusement, hampered by his own Western privilege.
Glass Cathedral by Andrew Koh
The book takes a peek into a devout Catholic’s struggle with accepting and eventually expressing his own homosexual identity in early 1990s Singapore. Colin and James are both from traditional families, struggling with university, familial relations (and its obligations), and love. Lighthearted as it may be, the novel jabs and prods at society’s fears and idiosyncrasies. It also touches on religion, class, and a nod to intersectionality of queer and ethnic minorities finding solidarity by forming alliances.
The Two Krishnas by Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla
The story explores the life and journey of Pooja and her banker husband, Rahul, after moving to LA from Kenya. With the sizzle disappearing from their marriage, Pooja is left confused and lonely, but Rahul finds solace in Latif – an young immigrant man from Mumbai. Pooja is forced to question her faith and marriage when she discovers this, and the fact that Latif is the same age as her son. The book tackles universal issues such as family, the many forms of love, infidelity, aspects of Hindu and Muslim beliefs, and the cycle of life.