Meet Rachel Khong, Author of Real Americans

Join San Mateo County Libraries on Tuesday, June 11 at 6:30 PM for a live, virtual discussion with Rachel Khong, author of the highly anticipated novel Real Americans!

Keep an eye out for a limited supply of free giveaway copies of Real Americans available on a first come, first served basis at our libraries.

An Expansive, Immersive Exploration of Identity, Destiny and Self-Determination

What does it mean to be a "Real American"? And how much does anyone—from any nationalities, ethnicities, families and tangled history—get to choose the direction of their life?

These questions and more weave through Khong's intergenerational novel. The book opens with Lily, an aimless Chinese American woman nearly her college graduation and wondering how to find her place in 1999.

We then jump ahead to 2021, when Lily's blond, blue-eyed son, Nick, begins to search for the father he's never met. Why, Nick wonders, did Lily sweep them away to a remote island after his birth? And why is it he hardly resembles his mother at all?

These mysteries eventually unravel to the book's final section, set in 2030 and narrated by Lily's dying mother, May. Why did May flee China during Mao's Cultural Revolution? And what does this seemingly far-off past have to do with Nick?

With a sprinkle of science fiction and magical realism, Real Americans asks how we are formed by the past, and how we might then form our futures.

Praise for Real Americans

“A disorienting, 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? This concern spirals quietly, like a double helix, through Rachel Khong’s enigmatic second novel, Real American. Khong manages these twisting threads with masterful deftness, an irresistible puzzle of a novel.” —Aimee Liu, Los Angeles Times, opens a new window

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

“By encompassing a family as a whole, Real Americans asks big questions about our lineage and futures, how much is really up to us, whether the facts of our pasts guarantee our fate, or whether we have agency over the lives we live.” —"Most Anticipated Books of 2024,” Literary Hub, opens a new window

About Rachel Khong

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 was born in Malaysia and lives in California.

Learn more about Rachel Khong.