top of page
“With its cast of unforgettable characters and delightful prose, Tenorio has delivered a near-perfect novel."
– Chika Unigwe, Judge's Citation
A Recommended Book From: 
Publisher's Weekly (starred review), USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Refinery 29, Lambda Literary, A Best Book of the Month from Amazon and Kirkus    






is flat out brilliant."           


-- Kevin Wilson, author of Nothing To See Here


"A wonderful achievement ...the kind of book readers will wish would never end."

  -- Publishers Weekly  (starred review)  


 "A tribute to the extreme inner strength it takes to make any life decision look like fate."

--The New York Times

"THE SON OF GOOD FORTUNE couldn't come at a better time..."

-- The San Francisco Chronicle

"Sharp and compassionate...Tenorio is a gifted, expressive writer..."

--USA Today


"Tenorio creates characters who are as lovable as they are real."



"Like his earlier work, [Tenorio] offers another fierce, revelatory literary experience."

--The Christian Science Monitor


"When you don’t belong where you are, where exactly do you belong?  Tenorio’s   


engaging and comic first novel about immigration and identity asks this question


with compassion and savage humor."

-- The Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"Tenorio's gifts as a writer are on display in this gorgeously written tale of a family

haunted by past mistakes, struggling toward the future.  A remarkable novel

by an author I plan to follow for years to come." 

-- Charles Yu, National Book Award-winning author of Interior Chinatown

"Superbly written, ingeniously plotted, and acutely poignant...This book didn't just


move me--it changes the way I look at the world. " 


– Molly Antopol, author of The UnAmericans

"Tenorio is a master storyteller, and—like his brilliant collection Monstress—this

is a gorgeous, searing wonder of a book."  

– Mia Alvar, author of In The Country


About the author

Lysley Tenorio is the author of the novel THE SON OF GOOD FORTUNE and the story collection MONSTRESS, which was named a book of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle. He is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a Whiting Award, a Stegner fellowship, the Edmund White Award, and the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as residencies from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the Bogliasco Foundation.  His stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Zoetrope: All-Story, and Ploughshares, and have been adapted for the stage by The American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and the Ma-Yi Theater in New York City.  Born in the Philippines, he lives in San Francisco, and is a professor at Saint Mary’s College of California. 


Also, it's pronounced "Less-lee."   = )

                         Photo credit: Laura Bianchi

My Books


An affecting portrayal of just how potently a parent can shape the expectations of her child...[The Son of Good Fortune] is a tribute to the extreme inner strength it takes to make any life decision look like fate." 

The New York Times

"A wonderful achievement." 

Publisher's Weekly (starred review)

"A masterfully constructed story of identity and ambition and an authentic portrait  of an unforgettable Filipino family." 


“Lysley Tenorio’s funny and poignant second novel, The Son of Good Fortune, couldn’t come at a better time…. Tenorio skillfully wrings high comedy from his characters’ boxed-in lives in a country that doesn’t know what to do with them…. Timely.”

–The San Francisco Chronicle

"Tenorio is a gifted, expressive writer about the Filipino American diaspora...[The Son of Good Fortune]  delivers a powerful story about what it takes to uncover a sense of oneself when you've been forced to keep it under wraps."

USA Today

"When you don’t belong where you are, where exactly do you belong? Lysley Tenorio’s engaging and comic first novel about immigration and identity asks this question with compassion and savage humor."

Minneapolis Star Tribune

" immigrant tale, a character study, a heartfelt and hilarious adventure."

–InStyle Magazine (best books of 2020)

"Funny, quirky, and at times exhilarating..."

Washington Independent Review of Books

The Son of Good Fortune is a reminder that many experiences comprise the definition

of what makes a person American. . . . Tenorio skillfully sketches out what an all-American boy like Excel experiences in his in-betweenness. . . . A damning yet clear-eyed acknowledgment that for many, the American dream is merely survival.”


"Bold, ambitious, and entirely unforgettable."

Refinery 29

“[The Son of Good Fortune] sympathetically illuminates the tenuous lives of undocumented immigrants, those who are ‘not really here’.… Tenorio's characters are humorous and loving, in spite of the exclusion overshadowing their very existence.”

Shelf Awareness (starred review)

"You know the feeling of picking up a book and realizing within ten pages that what you're reading is something...special?  Something different?  Well, that's what it's like reading Lysley Tenorio's novel...A funny and kind novel about home and identity." 


"The Son of Good Fortune is flat-out brilliant, and what makes it so wondrous is how Tenorio controls the complexity of the narrative. How can a book be filled with so much humor, such a light touch, and yet still touch that weird place in our heart that can break us apart? Excel and his mother, Maxima, are characters you won't forget, and the world in which they exist, stuck between belonging and not belonging, does not deserve them.”

– Kevin Wilson, author of Nothing To See Here

“With compassion and quirky brilliance, Lysley Tenorio’s debut novel, The Son of Good Fortune, delivers memorable characters who seek to carve out meaningful lives while caught in situations by turns timely and utterly shocking. With grace and earned authority, Tenorio shows us what it means to live life on the margins and in the shadows, and reminds us that even the humblest among us deserves respect. I loved every page.”  

–Natalie Baszile, author of Queen Sugar

“In this perceptive and sensitive novel, Lysley Tenorio views the troubled American dream through the eyes of Excel, an undocumented immigrant literally born in the air between the Philippines and the United States. The result, in The Son of Good Fortune, is a nuanced and subtle account of that most basic American dynamic: the melancholic and sometimes devastating fluctuation between promise and failure, happiness and its opposite.” 

– Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer

“Living with this extraordinarily human undocumented family will make you laugh, weep, and think, sometimes all at once. Tenorio brilliantly makes these characters so original that they’re nearly tangible.”  

—James Hannaham, author of Delicious Foods

“Full of heart, wisdom, and humor, The Son of Good Fortune is an unforgettable novel of mothers and sons, secrets and truth, and what it means to belong, told through the story of one undocumented Filipino family.”

–Lisa Ko, author of The Leavers

“I have a new favorite novel on my shelf. Tenorio’s great talent lies in underpinning

every moment of flash and humor with love, longing, and the ever-forlorn question of identity. The Son of Good Fortune is a field study of the glamorous allure of the American dream and the eternal ache of its exclusion."

–Adam Johnson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Orphan Master's Son



"SF Author’s ‘Son of Good Fortune’ Explores ‘Myth of the American Dream"

The San Francisco Chronicle


"Lysley Tenorio’s Latest Book Tells of Coming of Age in Colma"



"Lysley Tenorio Explores Lives of the Undocumented in Debut Novel"

The San Diego Union-Tribune

"Mining Humor in Serious Fiction, featuring Lysley Tenorio"

–Write-Minded Podcast

"Gulf Coast Life: Interview with Lysley Tenorio"

–WGCU/ NPR Florida

"Broken Oath: PW Talks with Lysley Tenorio"

Publisher's Weekly

"Meet: Lysley Tenorio"

Diablo Magazine

"Being Really Here in 'The Son of Good Fortune'"

The Chicago Review of Books

bottom of page