Author of East-West novels and all sorts of nonfiction, ghostwriter, MFA advisor, former painter… and current photopainter!

Image by Carolyn Hall Young

If you love novels about Americans in Asia and Asians in America and the families that form between them, you may have read my fiction. In the 1990s I published two novels, Face and Cloud Mountain, based on my family’s mixed-race history and my examination of my own Chinese-American identity.

Then I shifted my focus to Americans in India, where my first memories were formed during the years my family lived in New Delhi, way back in the 1950s. My 2003 novel Flash House was inspired by my mother’s musing about the risks my father had run flying all over…


Excerpt from the novel Glorious Boy

“The most memorable and original novel I’ve read in ages.” — Pico Iyer

“For readers who are unafraid to be swept away” — STARRED review in Booklist

“Riveting… a fascinating, irresistible marvel.” — STARRED review, Library Journal

Photo by Aimee Liu

Glorious Boy is a tale of war and devotion set in India’s remote Andaman Islands before and during WWII. …

The pandemic has made your reader reviews more essential than ever

Photo by Rajesh Rajput on Unsplash

I tend to be a quiet reader. I absorb, savor, ruminate, and learn from books. I will share my opinions about them freely with students and friends, but I haven’t made a habit of posting reader reviews online. Until this year.

The experience of launching my novel Glorious Boy in the middle of a pandemic (after spending 17 years writing it!) has given me a new appreciation for individual readers who raise their voices in support of books they love. Especially now, if readers don’t spread the word about these books, hardly anyone else will.

The Pandemic Plunge in Publishing

Make no mistake: our entire…

My grandparents’ marriage became a national ‘scandal’ because of anti-Asian hate

Denver Post, May 29, 1906. Image: Author

“Los Angeles Heiress Elopes With a Chink”

That headline still shocks me. It shouldn’t. Epithets like “chink”and “Chinaman” may have fallen from favor, but as we’ve seen throughout the past year, anti-Asian hate seethes just below America’s surface. And historically, nothing triggers racist venom like the prospect of “mongrelization.” To prevent intermarriage between the races, America kept anti-miscegenation laws on the books for three centuries, from the 1600s until 1967. …

On the negative side, the pandemic screwed with my writing by stomping all over the release last spring of my novel, Glorious Boy. But that's by now a familiar story for almost all 2020 authors.

On the plus side, the pandemic subverted my writing by sending me outside, which instead ignited my visual art! I found it impossible to focus on writing my memoir, but every day I'd go for a walk that served as a treasure hunt. I'd come home with a trove of images snapped with my phone, and each night I'd edit the best images into "photopaintings."…

Denis McCarthy and the incredible story of Operation Baldhead

The Andaman Islands, occupied by Japanese forces from March 1942-September 1945. Photo by Steve Douglas on Unsplash

Major A. Denis McCarthy was a complicated hero. Before World War II (WWII), as Superintendent of Police for India’s Andaman Islands, he led a brutal attack on the remote archipelago’s indigenous Jarawa tribe. And just days before Japan seized the islands in March 1942, McCarthy and 11 others fled across the Bay of Bengal by motor launch. He managed to navigate 850 miles of shark-and submarine-infested waters rather than face the enemy alongside British officials and Indian troops who remained in the Andaman capital of Port Blair.

But McCarthy had a secret agenda. In the two months after Japanese reconnaissance…

Learning to Embrace the Consoling Power of Coincidence

Photo by Kyle on Unsplash

I kept a large green votive candle burning as a form of prayer during the last six months of my niece’s life. The eldest of my brother’s four daughters, Amelia was only thirty-six. She’d spent her last decade tending, advising, loving, supervising, and comforting teens in a group home of last resort, and she had a toddler of her own. Now fighting a virulent form of breast cancer, Amelia was always in my thoughts, even though I rarely saw her in person.

She lived in San Diego, just two hours away from me, but she didn’t invite me to visit…

From meditative thesis novel to Book of the Month

Photo by Leonard Laub on Unsplash

When you teach creative writing, few joys can compare with the publication of a student’s first book. When that book is a grand success, pride and awe add to the ride. JoAnne Tompkins’s debut novel, ‘What Comes After’, is enjoying just such a launch. Even before its publication, it received rave advance reviews. The New York Times called it a “nail-biting wallop of a debut.” The Washington Post described it as a “gritty meditation on loss and redemption, drenched in stillness and grief.” Oprah listed it as one of the most anticipated books of 2021. And the Book of the…


A progress report after four months of intermittent fasting

Photo by Manki Kim on Unsplash

I just received my best cholesterol results in six years, which is as far back as my current doctor’s medical records go. They’ve improved by more than 10% just since last year. And my triglyceride levels have dropped by a whopping 26%! I’ve made only one change to my lifestyle that could possibly explain this dramatic shift.

Fifteen weeks ago, I started intermittent fasting — consuming nothing but plain tea, coffee, and water for sixteen hours each day. (If you’re curious, you can read about my first two months here.) I do all my eating in the eight hours between…

Aimee Liu

Asian-American novels (Glorious Boy, Cloud Mountain, Flash House, Face), nonfiction on creative writing, wellness, history, and psychology. More@

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