South-East Asian Authors you must Read!

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They spin tales like no other. JFW gives you a peek at the literary world from South East Asia. Here are five authors you must read, whose works have left an indelible mark on book lovers from around the world.

Every author infuses in his or her writing, an essence of where he or she comes from: the land they have lived on, the culture they have grown up with and the life they have experienced- it’s all consciously or subconsciously a part of their writing. These five authors have given us a glimpse of life in the South East of Asia, the lives of immigrants and woven tales that encapsulate their simple lives in the most heartwarming and sometimes magical ways.

  1. Amy Tan

Born in California to parents of Chinese origin, Amy Tan is one of the most loved authors. Her lyrical writing style captures the life and conflict of people, especially women of Chinese descent. Her most famous work, The Joy Luck Club, has received a lot of acclaims and was also made into a movie. Apart from this, other works by her, like The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Bonesetter’s Daughter etc., have been highly praised by bibliophiles globally. Most of her books touch upon the relationship between daughters and mothers, apart from focussing on love, forgiveness and differences between different generations. Sagas woven by her are intense, moving and emotional to define them simply. Most of the books are considered to be influenced by her own life and the lives of people around her, making them all the more appealing and real. Amy Tan’s books are perfect if you wish to explore the Chinese culture along with an understanding of human bonds and emotions.

  1. Keigo Higashino

He is one of the most famous and bestselling authors in Japan. Honoured with many awards pertaining to literary work under the genre of thrillers and mysteries, Higashino’s work has been widely translated and enjoyed by patrons of this genre. The Devotion of Suspect X was the second highest selling book in all of Japan, the year it was published and was also made into a movie that ruled the charts commercially as well. Other titles by him like Salvation of a Saint, Malice, Journey under the Midnight Sun etc., have also been widely acclaimed for his sheer brilliance as a storyteller. His books are engaging and have a unique way of keeping the reader rapt. He is the perfect choice for readers who enjoy reading thrillers.

  1. Han Kang

    Korean author Han Kang poses for a photograph with her book The Vegetarian at a photocall in London on May 15, 2016, ahead of tomorrow’s announcement of the winner of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize. / AFP / Leon NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)

The Vegetarian became the first Korean-language novel to win the Man Booker International Prize. It is written by Han Kang, daughter of novelist Han Seung-won. This Korean author has been subject to praise and criticism for her recent work The Vegetarian and Human Acts. While she has more writing to her credit, it is these two books that have been acclaimed globally. Both the writing and the subject of the books are moving and intense, leaving readers shaken and awed. Her writing shines through language barriers and brings to its readers the life and culture that she is trying to portray. If you enjoy books that move you, books that make you think and wonder and at times disturb you – Han Kang’s translated work is definitely something that you must pick up.

  1. Haruki Murakami

This contemporary Japanese writer has shaken the literary world up with his writing. His life has always been influenced by the Western culture, and this can be seen in his work too. Murakami studied theatre in Tokyo, and his love for music, dance, etc., can be seen in his literary work. His writing often falls under the category of “magical realism” as it has elements of magic and surprise that spring at you at the most unexpected places.  Titles like Norwegian Wood, 1Q84 , Sputnik Sweetheart etc., are some of his most loved novels. His writing is alluring in the most mysterious ways and it captures the most mundane events, the most uninteresting characters and presents to you a magical concoction that you will eagerly drink up! Reading Murakami is an experience like no other. So if you are still looking for that perfect book – perhaps this is where your search ends.

  1. Kazuo Ishiguro

A British novelist of Japanese origin and Nobel Laureate in Literature, Ishiguro writes novels that are quite unmatched in their brilliance. Heartwarming at its core, his books have been very widely accepted and awarded for their appeal to the global reading community. A Pale View of Hills, an Artist of the Floating World, and The Remains of the Day (which was adapted into a film) are just a few of his books that have been highly applauded. His writing style is unique, integrating an understanding of the past with characters that are drawn intimately to create a story that transports its reader to a different place and time. He writes fiction, science fiction and fantasy and has screenplays and song lyrics to his credit. If you enjoy books that are a mix of magic, history, human nature and values, all laced with a hint of dark humour to present a moving tale about mankind, then Ishiguro should be on your reading list already!

While there are many more authors of South East Asian origin creating a niche for themselves, this list integrates authors writing under different genres and styles giving you a tiny glimpse at the contribution of this region to the world of literature. the list could go on, but this is a perfect place to start with.


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