Guiyou Huang traces the history of Asian American literature from the end of World War II to the beginning of the twenty-first century. Huang covers six genres: anthology, autobiography/memoir, drama, fiction, poetry, and short fiction; reviews major historical developments and social movements; explains key literary terms; and offers a narrative, A-to-Z guide of major Asian American writers and their works, plus their critical reception.

This guide covers Canadian and U.S. authors with cultural and ethnic origins in East Asia, South Asia, and the Pacific Islands. It begins with a discussion of works written shortly after World War II that explore the personal and political impact of the conflict, such as John Okada's "No-No Boy" and Hisaye Yamamoto's short fiction. Huang then focuses on the 1980s, when Asian American literature blossomed into a diverse, heterogeneous field characterized by a variety of themes, genres, and styles, and writers with multiple ethnic and cultural backgrounds. He considers the work of novelists Amy Tan and Maxine Hong Kingston, the poets Ai and Agha Shahid Ali, and more than 100 additional authors, including Frank Chin, David Henry Hwang, Jessica Hagedorn, Nora Okja Keller, Bharati Mukherjee, Gish Jen, Chang-rae Lee, Jhumpa Lahiri, Chitra Divakaruni, and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha.

Huang points the reader toward further study for individual authors, and his selected bibliography suggests works of a more general nature, including literary criticism and histories, reference works, and collections of essays. Comprehensive though concise, clearly written but richly detailed, "The Columbia Guide to Asian American Literature Since 1945" is an invaluable resource.