Category: Other Asian 5 out of 5s

Janie Chang’s — Dragon Springs Road *****

Janie Chang’s — Dragon Springs Road *****

When the Fong’s estate near Shanghai is sold and the Yangs arrive, Jialing’s mother disappears and Jialing becomes a bond servant to the new family. Through her friendship with the spirit fox and Anjuin, the Yangs oldest daughter, she survives. A group of teachers rent a section of the estate and Jialing is given an opportunity to go to school. But even with her education and perfect English no one will employ her because she is zazhong— half Chinese, half Eurasian. How will she survive once the Yangs move to Shanghai leaving her behind?

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Vaddey Ratner’s — In the shadow of the banyan *****

Vaddey Ratner’s — In the shadow of the banyan *****

This book was recommended by fellow blogger Renee, the Global Bookwork and it’s definitely a five out of five (like every book I mention on this site).

Raami has an idealistic childhood in her Phnom Penh home with loving parents and servants. But when war breaks out in 1975 and the Khmer Rouge force everyone to flee from the city, the family joins the throngs of people and head to their holiday home with Raami’s extended family. They are lulled into a false sense of security until they are ordered to leave not only their second home, but their car. They trudge along with the rest of the hoards where soldiers watch over them, their guns poised, without knowing where they are headed.

This compelling novel is based on the writer’s personal experiences with names and locations changed.

Kobo Abe’s — The woman in the dunes ******

Kobo Abe’s — The woman in the dunes ******

Over two decades ago I saw a haunting Japanese movie based on Kobo Abe’s book that has always stayed with me. It was time to read this strange story of a man who walks into the sand dunes in search of beetles that survive in this unique environment. When the day draws to a close, Niki seeks shelter in a strange village he encounters. He is billeted with a woman living alone and only when he wakes the next morning does he learn his fate. This unique story will have you spitting sand and brushing it off your shoulders with every page turn.

Haruki Murakami’s — Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his year of pilgrimage *****

Haruki Murakami’s — Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his year of pilgrimage *****

Through his high school years Tsukura has a special relationship with his four best friends. But after he moves to Tokyo to continue his studies, he returns to Nagoya to discover none of his friends want anything to do with him. He is deeply hurt and only sixteen years later when he meets Jane, she encourages him to revisit his friends and find out the mystery behind why he was ostracized.

A moving story about friendships, loss and new beginnings.

Shan Sa’s — The girl who played Go

Shan Sa’s — The girl who played Go

A sixteen year old school girl is not interested in marrying her cousin Lu or her lover, Min. All she wants to do is play Go and hang out with Min and Jing — the two boys who are both in love with her.

Waiting for an opponent in the Square of a Thousand Winds, a disguised Japanese soldier approaches and she invites him to play the board game. The game progresses day after day against a background of Japan’s invasion of Manchuria. The soldier becomes intrigued, but nothing can prepare them for their final meeting.

Pearl S. Buck’s — Good earth *****

Pearl S. Buck’s — Good earth *****

Several years after Wang Lung marries O-lan, they begin to prosper from their hard work. But a lazy uncle soon wants to take advantage of Wang Lung’s success. At the same time, mismanagement within the emperor’s court leads to its decline.

This Pulitzer prize winning novel may have been written sixty years ago, but it is still captivating in its portrayal of the upheaval that took place in China at the beginning of the 1800s, seen through the eyes of this farming family.

Anchee Min’s — Wild Ginger *****

Anchee Min’s — Wild Ginger *****

Set during the Cultural Revolution, Wild Ginger joins the Red Guards to save herself after her father is labelled a traitor and her mother commits suicide. But after she rises in the ranks, she’s faced with a dilemma. Evergreen loves Wild Ginger, but Mao prohibits romantic love. When Evergreen moves on to Maple, Wild Genger’s response is unpredictable.