Born in 1971 in Taipei, Taiwan, to Malaysian parents, Tash Aw returned to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at the age of two, and grew up there. He had a multilingual upbringing, speaking Malay, Mandarin, Cantonese and English during his youth. He eventually relocated to England to study law at Jesus College, Cambridge and at the University of Warwick before moving to London to write. After graduating, he worked at a number of jobs, including as a lawyer for four years while writing his debut novel, which he completed during the creative writing course at the University of East Anglia.
His first novel, The Harmony Silk Factory, was published in 2005. After Malaysian journalists reported that he had been paid more than £500,000 for the novel, The Star and The New Straits Times called him the "RM3.5 million man", and local interest in his book deal continues today, even though the novelist himself has consistently denied the size of this advance, preferring to talk about the novel, which was longlisted for the 2005 Man Booker Prize and won the 2005 Whitbread Book Awards First Novel Award as well as the 2005 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Novel (Asia Pacific region). It also made it to the long-list of the world's prestigious 2007 International Impac Dublin Award and the Guardian First Book Prize. It has thus far been translated into twenty languages. Aw cites his literary influences as James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Marguerite Duras, William Faulkner and Albert Camus.
His second novel, titled Map of the Invisible World, was published in May 2009. Time magazine called it "a complex, gripping drama of private relationships," and praised "Aw's matchless descriptive prose", "immense intelligence and empathy." His 2013 novel Five Star Billionaire was longlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize. In 2016, he published The Face: Strangers on a Pier, a memoir on immigration through the experience of his Chinese-Malaysian family, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His novel, We, The Survivors, was published in 2019.
Based on royalties as well as prizes, Aw is the most successful Malaysian writer of recent years. Following the announcement of the Booker longlist, the Whitbread Award and his Commonwealth Writers' Prize award, he became a celebrity in Malaysia and Singapore, and is now one of the most respected literary figures in Southeast Asia.
As of 2017, he is among the writers-in-residence at Nanyang Technological University.
In January 2018, his alma mater, the University of Warwick, awarded him an honorary Doctor of Letters degree.
- The Harmony Silk Factory (2005)
- Map of the Invisible World (2009)
- Five Star Billionaire (2013)
- We, The Survivors (2019)
- "Notes from a Desert Sketchbook", Off the Edge, Issue 07 (2005) - Off the Edge was a Malaysian English-language magazine, now defunct
- "The American Brick Problem", Prospect, Issue 122 (May 2006)
- "To The City", Granta, 100 (Winter 2007)
- "Sail", A Public Space, Issue 13 (Summer 2011) - won the 2013 O. Henry Prize; republished in The O. Henry Prize Stories 2013, Laura Furman (ed.)
- "Tian Huaiyi", McSweeney's 42 (December 2012)
- "Tiger" (January 2013)
- The Face: Strangers On A Pier (2016)
- "Look East, Look To The Future", Granta.com, 25 May 2012
- "My Hero, Rudy Hartono", The Guardian, 9 August 2013
- "You Need To Look Away: Visions of Contemporary Malaysia", The Weeklings, 4 April 2014
- "Heart and Soul in Every Stitch", Granta.com, 16 April 2014
- "A Stranger at the Family Table", NewYorker.com, 11 February 2016
- "Bridge to Nowhere", The Fabulist, Issue 16
- "Burgess and the Malay Novels", Burgess at 100, Episode 2
- "Living and Writing as a Divided Southeast-Asian: On Privilege, Unfairness, and Wanting More From Life", Literary Hub, 10 September 2019
- Collected Op-Ed Articles from The New York Times, nytimes.com, 2014-
- X-24: Unclassified (2007) (co-editor with Nii Parkes)
- Official website
-  The Guardian, interview 2019
-  The Guardian, 2019, review by John Burnside
-  Times Literary Supplement, 2019, review by Francesca Wade
- The first chapter of The Harmony Silk Factory in PDF file
- Biography from the international literature festival berlin
- Cover Story: Tash for Cash in TheEdgeDaily.com
- Whitbread Book Awards
- The man behind the author, an interview on a Malaysian website
- 2013 interview in The New York Times
- Staying true to his beliefs
- Is Tash Aw the Malaysian Graham Greene? by Charles R. Larson
-  Electric Lit, interview with YZ Chin, 2019
-  The Believer Magazine, in conversation with Chia-Chia Lin, 2019