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  • Published: 30 April 2024
  • ISBN: 9781529153712
  • Imprint: Hutchinson Heinemann
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 416
  • RRP: $34.99

Real Americans

'A mesmerizing multigenerational novel' BRIT BENNETT


'Insightful and heartfelt' GLAMOUR

'Easy to inhale' GUARDIAN

'Mesmerizing' BRIT BENNETT, author of THE VANISHING HALF



On the precipice of Y2K, unpaid intern Lily Chen is attempting to live the American dream in New York City. But her scientist parents imagined so much more for her when they fled Mao's cultural revolution, hoping for a better life. Despite the glamour of her media job, Lily can barely make rent - until she falls into the arms of Matthew. This young financier can give her a fairy tale life of luxury, and for the first time her dreams appear within reach.

High school student Nick Chen and his best friend Timothy are plotting to break free. College promises escape from an isolated and close-knit island in Washington State, space from his strict and secretive mum Lily, and the chance to finally fit in. But when Nick sets out to find his long-lost father, a world of questions opens, and it is one unexpected member of the Chen family who holds the key to it all.

Real Americans is a family epic about identity, sacrifice, choices and fate. It is a wildly imaginative and profound story of betrayal and forgiveness that asks us how far we should go for those we love.


'Traverses time with verve and feeling' RAVEN LEILANI, author of LUSTER

'An eye-opener, imaginative and exhilarating' HA JIN, author of WAITING

'Gorgeous, heartfelt, soaring, philosophical and deft' ANDREW SEAN GREER, author of LESS

  • Published: 30 April 2024
  • ISBN: 9781529153712
  • Imprint: Hutchinson Heinemann
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 416
  • RRP: $34.99

About the author

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 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.

Also by Rachel Khong

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Praise for Real Americans

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

Khong is a magician . . . Brilliant

Lauren Groff on Rachel Khong


Independent on Rachel Khong

Khong manages to imbue seemingly mundane topics with charm and pathos through her attentive, humorous and personable writing

Spectator on Rachel Khong

Like a chain of fairy lights in the darkness

Financial Times on Rachel Khong

A million small, human and often deeply funny details gather force to tell a tale that is ultimately, incredibly poignant

Miranda July, author of The First Bad Man, on Rachel Khong

Real Americans traverses time with verve and feeling. Khong captures how people can be strange to themselves, how bewilderment can be a site of creation (or change, or becoming)

Raven Leilani

Gorgeous, heartfelt, soaring, philosophical and deft, Real Americans turns the multigenerational novel inside out. Fate, honesty, our bargains with life. You will keep turning it over and over in your mind

Andrew Sean Greer

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

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

Rachel Khong’s gripping second novel explores how biology, our parents’ abstract hopes for us, sheer luck, and the forces of history itself make us who we are. Real Americans is both a tender story of the intimate relationships between people and a sharp examination of very big questions of ethics, politics, and fate

Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind

Real Americans is a truly special novel. It’s an elegant portrait of how we disappoint those we love, despite trying our best, and how attempts to tame humanity misunderstand its complexity. Khong masterfully unfolds each character before us, revealing their dreams and regrets, and their undying hope for better.

Nicola Dinan, author of Bellies


Marie Claire

A tale of identity, belonging and betrayal


Beautifully written . . . a confident, immersive story that explores three very different-but-interconnected lives . . . binding the story together is a clear-eyed look at money and power, lost connections and what we inherit from our families - with an unexpected sprinkling of sci-fi and magic too


Easy to inhale . . . Khong observes this pervasive sense of unbelonging with cutting precision, and perfectly captures the dislocation, insecurity and erasure that are facets of Asian-American life . . . The novel’s real beauty lies in its amazement at the sheer luck of being alive.


A poignant and contemporary multi-generational novel . . . Khong's candid and humorous storytelling shines as she explores the challenges and complexities of straddling multiple cultural worlds . . . An expansive story of secrets, betrayal, and forgiveness. Khong's narrative resonates deeply, offering readers an insightful and heartfelt exploration of race, family, and the pursuit of the American Dream.