Summer Reading 2021
Book Recommendations by Members, Speakers and Asia Society Global Staff
Like every half year we asked for favourite books and received recommendations from colleagues, speakers and friends. The following ten books will keep you busy throughout the summer, whether you prefer fiction or non-fiction.
Thanks to all contributors for the great recommendations!
It's fictional but you will find that it's quite revealing about Bhutan's society and culture. – Recommended by Kunga Tenzin Dorji, also know as Supe, in "A Closer Look at Bhutan"
The catalogue for the exhibition Grenzgänge – Border Crossings. North and South Korean Art from the Sigg Collection complements the still ongoing and very extraordinary exhibition at Kunstmuseum Bern. The paintings from the North in their socialist-realist tradition face varied and pungent contemporary from South Korea and China. In the book Uli Sigg talks about the origins of this special collection that is shown for the first time in Berne this year. – Recommended by Serena Jung (Asia Society staff)
Veteran China scholar Orville Schell has written a dozen books on China, but his latest book – which Schell published at the age of 80 – is his first novel. My Old Home: A Novel of Exile is a bildungsroman that follows the life of Li Wende and his father, Li Shutong, from the early days of the Cultural Revolution to the tragedy of Tiananmen in 1989. – Kaiser Kuo of Sinica in the podcast episode in conversation with Orville Schell about the book
One of my evergreen absolute favorites is: Orphan of Asia, depicting Taiwan's difficult situation at the crossroads between China, Japan and simply being a country of its own. The book dates back to 1945 but it is brilliantly written and engaging and very good to understand contemporary Taiwan. It is a classical of modern Asian Literature. – Recommended by Simona Grano (senior lecturer at the University of Zurich and Director of the Taiwan Studies Project at UZH, speaker and moderator at Asia Society 2021)
This book talks about the third Biennale of Art in Shanghai and the collateral events that took place to unpack the backdrop to both the Shanghai's re-globalization as well as the rapid rise of Chinese contemporary art. – Recommended by Ying Zhou (assistant professor for architecture at the University of Hong Kong, speaker at Asia Society 2021)
An absolutely heartbreaking memoir filled with a mother’s love, grief, and delicious descriptions of Korean food. – Recommended by Janine Mae Arostique (Asia Society staff)
A very personal, thoughtful, and insightful book, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, that will make you look at everyday products "Made in China" – which we all own – with very different eyes. – Recommended by Madelaine Wiebalck (Asia Society staff)
Easy reading but I simply did not want this book to end. A thoughtful reflection on how one English woman transformed her palate and, indeed, her entire mindset while living in Sichuan. – Recommended by Monica Parks (Asia Society staff)
Shaheen Akhtar’s mesmerizing and moving novel, set against the background of the Bangladesh war of independence, explores the violence done to women, their courage and heartbreak, their search for love and their betrayal. Taalash (The Search) was awarded the Prothom Alo Literary Prize in 2004. – from the publisher; recommended by Sara Hossain in "A Closer Look at Bangladesh"
A dense, academic exploration of the Chungking Mansions mall / residence / business center. This work shines a light on Hong Kong's grittier side and contextualizes and humanizes the folks that live, work, and play there. – Recommended by Monica Parks (Asia Society staff)
Finished all the listed books? Find more suggestions on previous reading lists.
Share your book recommendations!
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Thank you very much in advance!