5 Books Written By Asian American Women We’d Love To See Made Into A Movie Or TV Show Someday

The Asian-American experience, especially for women, is unlike any other experience in this country. And, as a black man, I would have no idea about that experience since, well, I’m not Asian. Or a woman. However, through the power of literature, I can get a sense of what that experience might be like by reading books by Asian American women. Now, as a voracious reader, I’ve read several Asian American women’s books over the course of a few years without even realizing it, because I always choose what sounds interesting. And some of those books would make great movies or TV shows. So for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I thought I’d highlight a few.

Now, some books by Asian authors have already been brought to the screen with great success. the animated comedy, Crazy Rich Asians (which was written by Kevin Kwan), was a very popular film that received good reviews. And that of Jenny Han, To all the boys The series was a big hit on Netflix.

Additionally, you currently have original properties that are do not based on books that also feature Asian actors, like Everything, everywhere, all at once, which you seriously need to see right now. So here are some books written by Asian American women that would make great TV shows or movies. And hey, if they never make it into movies or TV shows, you can always, you know, read the book!

white ivy book cover

(Image credit: Simon & Schuster)

White Ivy: A Novel – Susie Yang

Oh my God. white ivy. I’ve recommended this book so many times this year that I might as well work on Susie Yang’s publicity team. The book, released in 2020, is about a young Asian girl who flies. Like, all the time. She learned it from her grandmother, who came from China. But, because of her thefts and failing most of her classes, she is shipped off to China, then later returns when her parents think she has calmed down. If only they knew.

What follows is… complicated. Ivy grows up and experiences ups and downs with her relationships, until she meets an old flame from her college days. I’ll just stop there, though, because there’s so much twist here, that to say anything more would be saying too much. But, let’s just say my mouth literally dropped at one point in the story, and I had to sit down. For real. It’s not a thriller, but it reads like one, and it’s also rich in Asian culture, making it a book I’d like to see as a movie one day. Seriously, READ this book.

Separation by Ling Ma

(Image credit: Picador)

Severance pay – Ling Ma

Not to be confused with the original Apple+ TV series Breakup (or similar shows), Ling Ma’s first novel, Breakupreleased in 2018, is a zombie story, but clever, much like George Romero’s night of the living dead movies. In it, a pandemic travels around the world from China causing people to subconsciously repeat things over and over again until it eventually kills them. So, World War Z (which is very different from the book), it is not.

There are people who are immune to the virus, like our protagonist, Candace Chen, and she documents the decline through photographs. But along the way, she somehow wonders what the purpose of existence is now, and so begins her search for understanding. That said, it’s not a serious drama, more of a satire. In this way, I would like to see a television series of Breakup which follows Candace and the characters she meets along the way in her quest for self-discovery.

When you trap a tiger

(Image credit: Random House Books for Young Readers)

When You Trap A Tiger – Tae Keller

Winner of the 2021 Newbery Medal, as well as the Asia-Pacific American Literature Award, When you trap a tiger is not a book for adults, but it is a book that adults will also enjoy. The story is about a biracial girl named Lily who one day sees (or thinks she sees) a tiger on the road while driving to her Korean grandmother’s house. But, what follows is that Lily learns a lot about her family (and her own identity) while living under her super hip grandma’s roof. It may not look like it, but this one is actually a tearjerker.

That’s why I would like to see it in film one day. Being a mid-level novel, this one deals with ethnicity in a way that many others don’t, in that you experience the protagonist’s understanding of their own identity with the character. All of the characters, especially Lily’s mother, sister, and grandmother, are very vibrant and alive on the page, and it would be amazing to see them on the big (or small) screen one day.

Book Spirit Hunters Island of Monsters

(Image credit: HarperCollins)

The Spirit Hunters Series – Ellen Oh

Written by We Need Diverse Books co-founder Ellen Oh, Spirit hunters is actually a mid-level book series that consists of the eponymous first novel and sequels island of monstersand the forthcoming third book, something nasty, which comes out in July. The first book features a seventh grader named Harper Raine who moves to a new house and must help her younger brother who is now seeing ghosts. Think of the scary horror movie, Insidious, meets ghost hunters (But for kids!) and you’re not too far off.

And doesn’t that sound like a great premise? Spirit hunters would make an amazing TV series that’s safe enough for young people that I could imagine it being on Disney+, although it would fit in nicely with any of the streaming services. Harper Raine and her friend, Dayo, are great characters, and I could see kids really warming up together for their spooky adventures.

Journey to the heart

(Image credit: Pocket Star)

Journey to the heart – Tif Marcelo

Now full disclosure, but I actually know the author of the Journey to the heart series, and his name is Tif Marcelo. She actually has several books, but I think she Journey to the heart books, which consists of novels North to you, Is in paradiseand west coast love, are all warm and heartwarming love stories that have food as their central idea. They’re also distinctly Filipino, which we don’t see enough of on TV.

And me To do think they would be fine in the television format. Each season could be a different story, but could also have connective tissue, like similar actors or locations. I’m really not a fan of romance as a genre, but the author creates such charming characters that it’s fun to accompany him.

These are just five Asian women authors among many others that I could have chosen. I would be remiss if I did not also mention authors like Erin Entrada Kelly and her book Hello, Universe (which apparently is get a Netflix movie)or Sylvia Liu and her delicious book MG, Manatee’s Best Friend, but I thought I’d just give you a sample. For more on other great Asian American women, be sure to stop by here often!

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