Real Americans: A novel (Large Print / Paperback)

Real Americans: A novel By Rachel Khong Cover Image
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May 2024 Indie Next List

“Rachel Khong’s latest tells the story of a first generation American’s adulthood and her teenage son looking for answers 20 years later. Real Americans grapples with racial identity, family inheritance, and becoming one’s true self.”
— Rebekah Rine, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, KS


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER READ WITH JENNA’S MAY BOOK CLUB PICK • From the award-winning author of Goodbye, Vitamin: How far would you go to shape your own destiny? An exhilarating novel of American identity that spans three generations in one family and asks: What makes us who we are? And how inevitable are our futures? 

"Mesmerizing"—Brit Bennett • "A page turner.”—Ha Jin • “Gorgeous, heartfelt, soaring, philosophical and deft"—Andrew Sean Greer • "Traverses time with verve and feeling."—Raven Leilani

Real Americans begins on the precipice of Y2K in New York City, when twenty-two-year-old Lily Chen, an unpaid intern at a slick media company, meets Matthew. Matthew is everything Lily is not: easygoing and effortlessly attractive, a native East Coaster, and, most notably, heir to a vast pharmaceutical empire. Lily couldn't be more different: flat-broke, raised in Tampa, the only child of scientists who fled Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Despite all this, Lily and Matthew fall in love.

In 2021, fifteen-year-old Nick Chen has never felt like he belonged on the isolated Washington island where he lives with his single mother, Lily. He can't shake the sense she's hiding something. When Nick sets out to find his biological father, the journey threatens to raise more questions than it provides answers.

In immersive, moving prose, Rachel Khong weaves a profound tale of class and striving, race and visibility, and family and inheritance—a story of trust, forgiveness, and finally coming home.

Exuberant and explosive, Real Americans is a social novel par excellence that asks: Are we destined, or made? And if we are made, who gets to do the making? Can our genetic past be overcome?

About the Author

RACHEL KHONG is the author of Goodbye, Vitamin, winner of the California Book Award for First Fiction, and named a Best Book of the Year by NPR; O, The Oprah Magazine; Vogue; and Esquire. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Cut, The Guardian, The Paris Review, and Tin House. In 2018, she founded The Ruby, a work and event space for women and nonbinary writers and artists in San Francisco’s Mission District. She lives in California.

Praise For…

A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2024, at publications including: The New York Times, Oprah Daily, Today, TIME, and more!

"If you liked Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin, read Real Americans by Rachel Khong." —The Washington Post

"It's a tale as old as time: Poor girl meets rich boy, they fall in love, and they live happily ever after. Well, not quite... A profound read."—People

"Remarkable... Folded into [Real Americans] are doomed love stories, fancy parties, a subplot about epigenetics, Chinese people who look white and yummy treats... The book also poses a dizzying array of questions: What does it mean to be American, and who gets to say who is one?” —Robert Ito, The New York Times

“A…masterful, shape-shifting novel about multiracial identity….What makes Americans 'real'? Is it our competitive drive? Our craving for wealth and status? Our insatiable quest for scientific advancement? Or is it—inevitably—the color of our skin and eyes?... [Rachel] Khong manages these twisting threads with masterful deftness.... [An] irresistible puzzle of a novel."—Aimee Liu, Los Angeles Times

"[Rachel] Khong layers the lives of her characters to challenge how well we can really know one another... [Khong]…captures the feeling of floating in the in-between, not firmly tethered to one pole of identity or another but instead looking for a way to feel secure in your own space... And that title—Real Americans—evokes more questions than any single book could answer. What is American, and what is real?" —Lucy Feldman, TIME

"Real Americans is both a novel of ideas and of beautiful sentences. Khong's prose is a pleasure to read... even as the questions she raises are chilling, indeed."—May-lee Chai, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Riveting in its unexpected turns, Real Americans is a novel about past mistakes and their echoes — and a reminder that those histories need not be binding."—Hannah Bae, San Francisco Chronicle

"An absolute page turner, this multi-generation family saga is quietly suspenseful... Spanning between the 1960s to present day, Khong weaves a gripping tale you are, for sure, not going to want to miss."—"Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2024," Kami Tei, Amazon Editor

"Unforgettable...Vibrant, tender and one to pass onto a friend."—"Best New Books of Spring," Oprah Daily

"This multigenerational stunner asks a thought-provoking question: Do we have any control over our destiny, or do some people just get lucky?"—Real Simple

"[A]n ambitious, spacious book...I was entirely entranced...from the start, and I talked about it endlessly to anyone who would listen when I finished.” —Jana Pollack, Skimm Reads editor

"By encompassing a family as a whole, [Real Americans] asks big questions about our lineage and futures, how much is really up to us."—"Most Anticipated Books of 2024," Literary Hub

Real Americans is a grand novel that explores the American psyche, dramatizing the fundamental American belief in the ability to change the world and improve humanity. Rachel Khong shows infinite and colorful perceptions of the world, which are often leavened with wisdom. Besides being a page turner, this book is also an eye-opener, imaginative and exhilarating.”—Ha Jin, author of Waiting

“Aglow with love in its many forms, suffused with questions of where—and to whom—we belong, Real Americans is a book of rare charm. Khong untangles the roots of family with a wry, tender attention that will leave readers as comforted as they are challenged.”—C Pam Zhang, author of Land of Milk and Honey

“Khong masterfully explores a family splintered by science, struggling to redefine their own lives after uncovering harrowing secrets. Real Americans is a mesmerizing multigenerational novel about privilege, identity and the illusions of the American dream.”—Brit Bennett, author of The Vanishing Half

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593862766
ISBN-10: 0593862767
Large Print: Yes
Publisher: Random House Large Print
Publication Date: April 30th, 2024
Pages: 608
Language: English