He is the author of two books, Translation and the Languages of Modernism (Palgrave/St. Martins, 2002) and Foreign Accents: Chinese American Verse from Exclusion to Postethnicity (Oxford, 2010) which was selected by the Association for Asian American Studies for its Book Award in Literary Studies. He is also co-editor of Sinographies: Writing China (Minnesota 2008), Pacific Rim Modernisms (Toronto 2009), and Ezra Pound and Education (2012).
In 2012 he was awarded an ACE Fellowship for the 2012-13 academic year. In 2005 Yao was awarded a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies and he also served as a Stanford Humanities Center External Junior Faculty Fellow for 2005-06.