Award for fiction

Winner for the Asian American Literary Award in Fiction

Once the Shore, Paul Yoon (Sarabande Books)
Judge: Richard Jean So
Paul Yoon’s Once the Shore is a deceptively quiet, small collection of stories. Tiny gestures, ambivalent stares, and unspoken sentences frame the world it describes, a small island off the coast of South Korea. Yet, worlds are contained within that world, one being the increasingly complex, changing world of our present. Yoon captures well America’s troubled gaze of Asia, while recovering lost histories that provide a new, Eastern-looking genealogy of who we are and will be. Another, however, is a world defined by its very transcendence of politics and history. In Yoon’s clean, tight yet utterly open prose, specificity becomes universal, the pain and longing of its characters precise yet instantly knowable. At the end of each story, the sea, a rush of boundless emotion and thought, washes over its characters. And with them, the reader too is overcome by a vast, endless sense of worlds – their world, our own, the social world, that of inner life, past and future.

Finalists for the Asian American Literary Award in Fiction

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, Daniyal Mueenuddin (WW Norton & Company)
Judge: Don Lee
Daniyal Mueenuddin’s In Other Rooms, Other Wonders is a magnificent achievement. The interconnected stories in the collection roam from Punjab to Lahore to Karachi, revealing the social order and privations of a wealthy landowner and his family and servants, and the book is suffused with a sensuous intimacy that is startling and richly rewarding. There’s beauty and tenderness here and also sadness and fleeting joy—all rendered with nonpareil crystalline prose. Mueenuddin has a rare and wonderful talent, able to portray the nuances of a particular culture while at the same time awakening the humanity in all of us.

Miles from Nowhere, Nami Mun (Riverhead)
Judge: Alex Chee
Nami Mun's Miles From Nowhere tells the story of Joon-Mee: runaway, drop-out, the girl who fell through the cracks into the landscape of the less than ideal immigrant story. Joon-Mee struggles to survive both her parents' implosion and the world she runs away to at the age of twelve: the streets of the Bronx. Mun's spare and precise language detail Joon-Mee’s attempts to makes sense of what she might make of herself, pitch-perfect as we follow her very human choices to their shattering conclusions. This book makes an important addition to the conversation that is Asian American literature.

Fiction Long List

Judged by Whiting Award winner Alexander Chee, University of Chicago Professor Richard So, and novelist and former Ploughshares editor Don Lee.