“The Enclave” by Rohit Manchanda
Asian Review of Books
by Mahika Dhar
18h ago
It’s the early 2000s in Bombay. The air is damp, the streets are crowded, and hedonism abounds. The Enclave is Rohit Manchanda’s second novel, published long after the Betty Trask-winning A Speck of Coal Dust. It’s a propulsive, character-focused study of the growth of Indian liberalism that unwittingly sets a middle-aged woman, Maya, down a path of self-destruction. The novel is written in Manchanda’s signature style, reflective of the protagonist’s own interest in the diminishing art of “the cadence and classicism of early 19th and 20th diction.” Maya is newly divorced, and her son—from whom ..read more
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“Murder in the Maloo” by Qi Fanniu and Zhu Dagong
Asian Review of Books
by Susan Blumberg-Kason
2d ago
Paul Bevan is the one of the most prominent scholars of early 20th-century Shanghai and it’s thanks to him that English language readers have learned of the contributions of Chinese illustrators, writers, publishers and other artists in late-Qing and Republican-era Shanghai. A few years ago, he translated a novel titled The Adventures of Ma Suzhen: An Heroic Woman Takes Revenge in Shanghai. This novel was originally written in the early 1920s, but takes place several decades before that. Bevan now has a new translation of the prequel, Murder in the Maloo, written by two novelists, Qi Fanniu an ..read more
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“The Bookshop Woman” by Nanako Hanada
Asian Review of Books
by Mary Hillis
4d ago
Nanako Hanada’s The Bookshop Woman chronicles the unique magic books have to connect people. In her 30s with her marriage and career on the brink, Nanako joins an online matching service that she refers to as PerfectStrangers. Though it resembles a dating site, it’s meant to connect people for thirty-minute conversations around shared interests. To make her profile stand out, she sets a goal to give personalized book recommendations to every person she meets through the site. Her profile reads:   Hello, I’m the manager of a very unusual bookshop. I have access to a huge database of over t ..read more
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Podcast with Bill Lascher, author of “A Danger Shared: A Journalist’s Glimpses of a Continent at War”
Asian Review of Books
by Nicholas Gordon
4d ago
Melville Jacoby was a US war correspondent during the Sino-Japanese War and, later, the Second World War, writing about the Japanese advances from Chongqing, Hanoi, and Manila. He was also a relative of Bill Lascher, a journalist—specifically, the cousin of Bill’s grandmother.     A Danger Shared: A Journalist’s Glimpses of a Continent at War, Bill Lascher, Melville Jacoby (photos), Paul French (foreword) (Blacksmith, April 2024) Bill has now collected Mel’s work in a book: A Danger Shared: A Journalist’s Glimpses of a Continent at War, with photos detailing Mel’s early days as an e ..read more
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“Alexander at the End of the World: The Forgotten Final Years of Alexander the Great” by Rachel Kousser
Asian Review of Books
by Peter Gordon
1w ago
There are any number of serious and worthy reasons to write a book on Alexander the Great, and author and historian Rachel Kousser gives several—including that Alexander’s world was more “globally connected” and “integrated” than our own and how “Alexander’s story does not just give us a different perspective on the past; it also helps us to imagine the future”—but one suspects that in the end it’s that Alexander’s is a ferociously good story. Kousser can be forgiven for that: Alexander has been considered the best of stories going on for 24 centuries. And she tells it well. Kousser starts Ale ..read more
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New Book Announcement: “Laos: Why We Cannot Forget” by Jose V Fuentecilla
Asian Review of Books
by Editor
1w ago
Laos: Why We Cannot Forget; Memoirs of Shared Histories, Jose V Fuentecilla (July 2024) In the 1960s, bands of adventurous Filipinos found themselves spending years in communal, austere lifestyles while doing foreign aid work. They were healthcare workers, engineers, teachers, agriculturists, nutritionists. The existing model for international assistance during that period was Northern white rich to Southern black or brown. The Filipinos were going to do something else not tried before in Laos. It was an Asian-to-Asian effort that exemplified an interesting example of development aid unique in ..read more
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“Dugo Sa Bukang-Liwayway: Bleeding Sun” by Rogelio Sicat
Asian Review of Books
by Rosanne Salazar
1w ago
Rogelio Sicat (or Sikat), often referred to as “one of the greatest pioneers of Philippine fiction”, along other young writers in the 1960s, chose to write in Tagalog in deliberate reaction to the literature written in English during the American occupation. Sixty years after his Bleeding Sun was written, this translation by his daughter Maria Aurora is a step towards making Sicat’s work more accessible... not just beyond the archipelago but also within, where for three-quarters of the population (including me), Tagalog is not the mother tongue. Bleeding Sun is the story of an illite ..read more
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“Asa: The Girl Who Turned into a Pair of Chopsticks” by Natsuko Imamura
Asian Review of Books
by Christopher Corker
1w ago
All three of the short pieces included in Asa: The Girl Who Turned into a Pair of Chopsticks by Akutagawa Prize-winning author Natsuko Imamura are stories of escalation—in each, the mundane finds itself quickly replaced by the tragically absurd. The opening tale, for example, begins with a familiar domestic scene of hulling sunflower seeds, only to end with the startling metamorphosis in the title. Throughout the collection, events snowball with surprising haste: minor scuffles in the schoolyard result in arrests, career-ending compound fractures and a life on the streets; careless rumors caus ..read more
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“Skies of Thunder: The Deadly World War II Mission Over the Roof of the World” by Caroline Alexander
Asian Review of Books
by Francis P Sempa
1w ago
The China-Burma-India (CBI) theater of the Second World War gets far less attention than the battles in Northwest Europe, Italy, the Eastern front, North Africa and the Pacific. Author Caroline Alexander in her new book Skies of Thunder presents a riveting, faced-paced account of the action there both on the ground and in the skies that would make for a best-selling movie.  The characters are fascinating: Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek, who simultaneously fought the Japanese and China’s communists and other warlords, and who convinced Franklin Roosevelt that he could lead China to bec ..read more
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Podcast with Eric C Thompson, author of “The Story of Southeast Asia”
Asian Review of Books
by Nicholas Gordon
1w ago
Does Southeast Asia “exist”? It’s a real question: Southeast Asia is a geographic region encompassing many different cultures, religions, political styles, historical experiences, and languages, economies. Can we think of this part of the world as one cohesive “place”?     The Story of Southeast Asia, Eric C Thompson (NUS Press, April 2024) Eric Thompson, in his book The Story of Southeast Asia, suggests that we can, as he tells the region’s history from way back in prehistory, through its time as Buddhist and Hindu kingdoms, the introduction of Islam and Theravada Buddhism, and end ..read more
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