Summer Reading 2022
Book Recommendations by Members, Speakers, and Asia Society Global Staff
Summer is here! And with it, our bi-annual reading list with books from and about Asia. Like always, we asked for your favorite 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!
Kevin Rudd applies the Foucauldian concept of the 'truth regime' to a real-life example to explain a highly complex, geopolitical relationship in a concise, comprehensive manner. Even though the topic is quite difficult, he manages to make it an uncomplicated and easy read – great for anyone who wants to read up on the relationship between China and the U.S. – Recommended by Joséphine Lim, Asia Society Staff
The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi (2020) [fiction]
Vivid and compelling in its portrait of one woman’s struggle for fulfillment in a society pivoting between the traditional and the modern, The Henna Artist opens a door into a world that is at once lush and fascinating, stark and cruel. "It was immersive, moving, and triumphant. I didn't want it to end and have to leave the lives of the characters." – Recommended by Deborah McNulty, Asia Society Staff
Uncovering the Pan-Asianism of the periphery and its critical role in shaping modern Asia, Asian Place, Filipino Nation offers a vital new perspective on the Philippine Revolution's global context and content. – Recommended by Kaitlyn Magtoto, Asia Society Staff
Woman, Eating by Claire Kohda (2022) [fiction]
“I've just finished reading this brilliant vampire novel with an Asian theme and undercurrents of discussion of race and belonging.” – Recommended by Fuchsia Dunlop, a 2022 speaker for Big Picture. Hungry for non-fiction? Read one of her fantastic cookbooks – for example, The Food of Sichuan.
Grass by Keum-Suk Gendry Kim (2020) [non-fiction]
If you want to enjoy non-fiction in a different format, this recommendation is for you – the author interviewed an elderly Korean woman and turned her story into Grass – “a graphic novel narrating the story of a Korean woman who survived the horrors of being enslaved as a "comfort woman" for the Japanese imperial army. Heart-breaking but also full of hope.” – Recommended by Pablo Rahul Das, Asia Society Member, and Gen A alumnus
While I bought this book on a whim because of its beautiful cover, by the time I had turned over the last page, it had already gained a spot on my all-time favorites list. It's a breathtakingly beautiful story about life and death, written with lots of humor and wit. – Recommended by Martina Froehlich, Asia Society Staff
This lively and accessible perspective on China's global ambitions draws from authoritative Chinese-language sources. The resulting analysis will inform policymakers, executives, China watchers, students, and other globally engaged citizens seeking to understand China's ambitions and how our governments and societies can respond. – Recommended by Asia Society President and CEO Kevin Rudd
Might be the best book I’ve read this year, and I’m not even a fan of graphic novels. Funny at times, infuriating at others, and super creative throughout, it also serves as a good primer on the history of Singapore from a critical perspective. – Recommended by Martin Mosteiro, Gen A Alumnus
Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy by Eri Hotta (2013) [non-fiction]
Thrilling read on how big governments commit to bad & fatal decisions, against their better and rational judgment. – Recommended by Jesper Koll, Asia Society Japan Board of Directors
The Republic of Wine by Mo Yan (2001) [fiction]
An intensely poetic, stream-of-consciousness-type novel by the Nobel Prize-winning Chinese author Mo Yan. I thoroughly enjoyed this twisted story of a fictional Chinese province, where drunken debauchery and sadistic gluttony rule. – Recommended by Timoteo Cozzio, Gen A Alumnus
Finished all the listed books? Find more suggestions on previous reading lists.
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