kaya publishes books of the asian pacific diaspora

✚Other Authors

Ed Lin

Ed Lin, a journalist by training, is the author of several award-winning books, including: Waylaid, his literary debut; the Robert Chow crime series, set in 1970s Manhattan Chinatown (This Is a BustSnakes Can’t Run and One Red Bastard); and the Taipei Night Market crime series (Ghost MonthIncensed and 99 Ways to Die). Lin is the first author to win three Asian American Literary Awards. He lives in New York with his wife, actress Cindy Cheung, and his son.



This is a Bust

Kaya Press 2007

Now available from HarperCollins!

This Is a Bust, the second novel by award-winning author Ed Lin, turns the conventions of hard-boiled pulp stories on their head by exploring the unexotic and very real complexities of New York City’s Chinatown, circa 1976, through the eyes of a Chinese-American cop. A Vietnam vet and an alcoholic, Robert Chow’s troubles are compounded by the fact that he’s basically community-relations window-dressing for the NYPD: he’s the only Chinese American on the Chinatown beat, and the only police officer who can speak Cantonese, but he’s never assigned anything more challenging than appearances at store openings or community events. Chow is willing to stuff down his feelings and hang tight for a promotion to the detective track, despite the community unrest that begins to roil around him. But when his superiors remain indifferent to an old Chinese woman’s death, he is forced to take matters into his own hands. This Is a Bust is at once a murder mystery, a noir homage and a devastating, uniquely nuanced portrait of a neighborhood in flux, stuck between old rivalries and youthful idealism.



Kaya Press 2002

Waylaid is the story of a Chinese American boy struggling to grow up amidst the drudgery and sexual innuendo of his parent¹s sleazy motel on the Jersey Shore. Conscripted into the family business, the protagonist spends his summer days and after-school hours renting out rooms to johns and hookers, lonely old men, and families whose homes have been repossessed. He becomes obsessed with losing his virginity, a preoccupation whose very intensity reflects a society that delivers sex as a distraction from despair. In its blackly humorous exploration of immigrant dreams and working class realities, Waylaid is a switchblade in the gut to stories of overachievement and success that ignore the human cost.


David Tung Can’t Have a Girlfriend Until He Gets Into an Ivy League College

Kaya Press October 28, 2020

David Tung is a Chinese American high-school student in an upscale, Asian-majority, New Jersey suburb who works every day at his family’s restaurant and strategizes every homeroom about how to improve his class rank so he can get into an Ivy League college. His only release? Hanging with his “real” friends once a week at Chinese school in NYC’s working-class Chinatown.

But when the pretty and popular Christina Tau asks him to a high school dance, David’s tightly regimented life gets thrown into a tailspin—especially since, as his mother likes to remind him, he’s not allowed to have a girlfriend! Should he defy his mother and go to the dance? Or defy Christina’s wishes and spend Saturday night studying for the MCATs? And how is he going to explain all this to Betty Jung, the standout pupil from Chinese School whose opinion he can’t help but care about?

Ed Lin’s YA-novel debut takes on coming-of-age in the Asian diaspora with a heartwarming and humorous exploration of race, class, young love, and the contradictory expectations of immigrant parents.

More Ed Lin Books
One Red Bastard
Minotaur 2012
Snakes Can’t Run
Minotaur 2010

“Part New York neighborhood portrait a la American-theater staples Street Scene and Dead End, part hard knocks but optimistic little-guy’s story a la Edward Dahlberg’s novel Bottom Dogs (1929), Lin’s juicy, dialogue-heavy sophomore effort is rich, flavorful, and humane.”
— Roy Olson, Booklist (Starred Review)

“Rich with political intrigue and a cultural landscape acutely alive, This Is a Bust takes the reader on a journey few are privileged to know…. A satisfying literary read that reads with the quickness of a summer fling read—but don’t read it quickly, you’ll want to savor this novel. Dark, beautiful, and humorous and not to be missed.”
— Debra Magpie Earling, author of Perma Red

“Reading This Is a Bust as well as Ed Lin’s first novel, Waylaid, is like fixing the frayed wiring of a light socket while standing in your bare feet in water during a lightning storm. Outside. We’re talking about Chinese-American characters who don’t play it safe and never went to medical school or got straight A’s in calculus. Take a risk, read this detective story and encounter a Chinatown well beyond the tourist neon and Grandma-arriving-in-America story.”
— Shawn Wong, author of Homebase and American Knees

“Wonderful… In Waylaid, Lin has crafted an unforgettable story from the rundown landscapes of the New Jersey Shore and from the ambivalant geographies of his young narrator’s heart… A coming-of-age novel that is both piercing and tender… Lin is an astonishing talent.”
— Junot Díaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

“Ed Lin has wrought an Asian American Holden Caulfield, whose view from his tightly conscripted life of working at his parents’ motel is to get laid without getting fucked. No model minority success here, this is the harsh universe of working class immigrants, a nether world that both fascinates and repels.”
— Helen Zia

“There’s great humor here, and great storytelling. What Ed does best is what only great writers do – he tells the truth. I’m a fan for life.”
— Wayne Kramer, co-founder of MC5 and Mad for the Racket

“Lin demonstrates David’s adeptness at code-switching and shows him seeing his world both as an insider, being Chinese American, and as an outsider, since his economic situation matches neither that of his wealthier Shark Beach or poorer Chinese school classmates. Many readers may see themselves in aspects of David’s highly pressured life, and will cheer him on in navigating his complex situation.”

Rebecca Moore, School Library Journal

“David’s self-deprecating humor wraps up these observations into a hilarious package. A fun and insightful read.”

Reinhardt Suarez, Booklist

“College admissions, immigrant parents, weekend Chinese school, working at his family’s restaurant, and fending off bullies are just a start for David Tung’s sophomore year at the notorious Shark Beach High. Ed Lin has conjured up a fast-paced, acid-tongued, hilarious teen drama for our age, and David Tung is a nerd-hero readers will cheer on to the end.”
Marie Myung-Ok Lee, author of Finding My Voice

“You’ll fall hard for David Tung, a high-achieving teen with a heart of gold. Lin writes with a keen sense of character; even the most minor characters spring alive off the page. From the crowded streets of New York’s Chinatown to the McMansions of suburban Shark Beach, this joyful, funny and tender chronicle of a young man’s quest for love will resonate with readers of all ages.”
Sheba Karim, author of Mariam Sharma Hits the Road

“This book is a complete joy. With tender and hilarious insight, Ed Lin offers an irresistible tale of first love, complete with swooning crushes, tongue-tied blunders, overbearing-but-well-meaning parents, and an outrageous cast of supporting characters only New York and New Jersey can produce. Along the way, Lin imbues David’s journey with a generous spirit and a contagious devotion to all things good in the world, making this a triumphant, uplifting read for teens and adults alike.”
JJ Strong, author of Us Kids Know

“Equally an outsider at his cutthroat suburban high school and in Chinatown New York, the inspiring David Tung one-ups unexpected bullies, runs out of data while texting his top-secret crush, and works around the clock to live up to the expectations of his demanding parents. This heartwarming coming-of-age story proves that fitting in happens after you gather the courage to assert yourself, and will engross any reader who is chasing success while feeling pulled between worlds: old country and new, suburb and city, parent and kid. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll get straight As.”
Chris L. Terry, author of Black Card

“Ed Lin’s New Jersey is entirely Chinese American and way, way more complex and threatening than the Soprano’s version of NJ. There are rich Chinese, really rich Chinese, Ivy League Chinese, super educated Chinese, and then there’s David Tung who has never been on airplane, works in his family’s Chinese restaurant, and ranks a shameful (according to his mother) number eight academically in his school. For Chinese American readers who survived high school, it’s a hive-inducing horror movie from our past.”
Shawn Wong, author of American Knees

“Ed Lin delightfully captures the sense of ‘in-between’ so many adolescents wrestle with, from wanting to make your parents proud to hating all their rules. I cringed, I cheered, I wished this book had been there for me as a teen. Teens (and adults) will identify with the earnest and likeable David Tung as he wrestles with all of the world’s problems…as a sophomore in high school.”
Jung Kim, teacher-educator and Associate Professor of Literacy at Lewis University, co-author of Using Graphic Novels in the English Language Arts Classroom

“A beautifully-observed, hilariously truthful, uplifting coming of age story which captures the heart and humanity of a Chinese American male teenager. I am impressed and inspired by Ed Lin’s achievement and wish I could’ve read this book when I was in high school.”
David Henry Hwang, playwright of Soft Power


Ed Lin news

Asian American YA with Ed Lin and R. Zamora Linmark

Before the Young Adult became the edgy, best-selling genre it is today, Kaya Press was publishing cutting edge stories about Asian diasporic young people that changed the world. R. Zamora Linmark’s Rolling The Rs tells the stories of young people in Kalihi, Hawaii in a way that no one had ever allowed children to exist […]

David Tung Can’t Have A Girlfriend Virtual Book Tour!

2021 Thursday, February 18th, 2021 – 6 pm PST / 9 pm EST Ed Lin in Conversation with writer Alexander Chee at the Beverly Hills Public Library!   Saturday, March 20th, 2021 – 9am to 10am PST / 12 pm – 1 pm EST RSVP Here! Coming of Age in YA Fiction: Novelists Mahogany Browne […]

David Tung Can’t, But You Can!

At long last, Ed Lin’s debut YA novel David Tung Can’t Have a Girlfriend Until He Gets Into an Ivy League College is available for pre-order, and will be published this September. UPDATE: David Tung will now be officially published in October, but available to pre-orders by September! In these times, when the day-to-day challenges […]

Visions & Voices: Contemporary Chinese Diasporic Fiction

Join us for a reading and conversation with four outstanding Chinese writers whose works upend the notion of a monolithic Chinese identity and uncover a much more complicated story about the diversity of Chinese diasporic experiences in America: 2017 National Book Award finalist Lisa Ko (The Leavers), crime-writer-turned-YA-author Ed Lin (David Tung Can’t Have a […]