• The cover of the book Mona in the Promised Land

    Mona in the Promised Land

    Seeing Gish Jen at a reading on my college campus when I was an undergrad was a life-changing experience for me. There was such warmth and laugh-out-loud humor in her writing, and she was also such an instantly engaging person who spoke so winningly about her process. This book is a master class in capturing a specific voice that feels fully realized but that also foreshadows the brilliant fiction yet to come in the author’s career. 

     
  • The cover of the book The Moor’s Last Sigh

    The Moor’s Last Sigh

    I’ve read almost all of Rushdie’s work, and although Midnight’s Children is, of course, a masterpiece, this is the book that surprised me the most with the scope of its storytelling, its deft incorporation of real-life political events, and a stunning portrayal of Bollywood’s dark underbelly juxtaposed with a contemporary mystery set in Spain. It also features the thrilling characterization of the wild Goan matriarch Aurora Zogoiby, as well as a queer-themed wedding escape scene that informed a key plot point of my new novel.

     
  • The cover of the book A Tale for the Time Being

    A Tale for the Time Being

    Not to be shallow, but the sales success of this book is incredibly heartening to someone like me who writes fiction and works in book publishing. The writing is electrifying, the global sweep of the storytelling astonishing, but there is also a lot of downright, decidedly odd stuff afoot in this book that explores the limits of cultural propriety, sexuality, and the struggle for identity. It’s also hiccup-in-your-throat funny in many parts. I could re-read it every year for the rest of my life.

     
  • The cover of the book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

    The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

    There’s a reason why this book has become ubiquitous on bookshelves worldwide: There are simply few writers who have Díaz’s endless energy and ability to humanize his characters fully while stunning you with the complexity of his prose. And it has quite possibly the most bittersweet, laugh-out-loud ending lines of all time.