Wednesday 12 April 2017

Really Mini Reviews! - 3 #OwnVoices Asian Historical Novels

Asian girls reading

Over half of the world's population lives on the continent of Asia, without counting people of Asian descent or birth who live elsewhere.

My reading certainly doesn't reflect that, does yours?

Given the size and rich history of the region, that most people in the West know so little about Asia is something that needs to change.

I've audiobooked* three #ownvoices historical novels, written by people from the countries they are set in, and am happy to bring you my really mini-reviews of each!

Obviously, given that my knowledge is, in fact, extremely limited, if I say something stupid and/or offensive, then I'd be really grateful if you told me!

*'to audiobook' is the verb I've decided to now use as neither listened to nor read seems to work with audiobooks, and I make my own rules dammit!!!!!

Bangladesh outline with flag overlay

Title: A Golden Age

Author: Tahmima Anam

Amazon: UK - USA


Set at the time of the Bangladeshi Liberation War, this is the story of mother Rehana Haque and her grown-up family.

I love how exceptionally strong Rehana is in this book - she rocks.

I also love how there's no 'right' side as such, and Rehana feels herself torn between the different factions and national identities.

That said, I have extremely limited knowledge of the political history of this area, so I really can't make a judgement as to the historical accuracy, especially of the events of the war.

There's a lot of stuff going on in this book, so potentially distressing content includes: rape, murder, torture, kidnapping, war, religious prejudice, oppression and atrocities.

Buy Now UKBuy Now USAGoodreadsAuthor's Twitter


A Golden Age - Rehana rocks. #OwnVoices

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China outline with flag overlay

Title: Wild Ginger

Author: Anchee Min

Amazon: UK - USA


Growing up in Maoist China, Maple, Wild Ginger, and a boy named Evergreen, become entangled in each other's lives, with consequences that none of them could have predicted.

This is an absorbing three-way triangle, with an F/F element.

Although this is about teenagers, it's not really YA - so don't make the mistake of placing it in that genre.

Potentially distressing content in this book includes: suicide, self-harm, sexual assault, attempted rape, grief, xenophobia, internalised xenophobia, oppression, torture, capital punishment.

There're also some awkward sex scenes.

My one big downer on this book is that the perpetrator of the sexual assault and attempted rape isn't punished or blamed, and basically is treated the same way is he was before. And that's not OK.

Overall though? Wild Ginger is absorbing, complex, and exceedingly well-written.

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Wild Ginger is absorbing and complex
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Iranian flag pic

Title: The Lemon Grove

Author: Ali Hosseini

Amazon: UK - USA


This book is set in Iran after the revolution of the 1970s. It's very character-driven, so those looking for an action-packed plot maybe need to look elsewhere.

This book follows Behruz, returned from America to a country he no longer recognises, a brother he struggles to help, an illicit love affair, and memories that seem more real than the reality.

Struggling, Behruz finds refuge in his family's Narenjestan - the lemon grove - and begins to piece his life back together.

This is a great book - highly unique, and incredibly involving.

Potentially distressing content includes: suicide attempts (from the beginning,) depression, PTSD, selective mutism, child abuse, capital punishment, stoning of women, references to war and injury, as well as war-related mental health problems.

Buy Now UKBuy Now USAGoodreads

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The Lemon Grove is incredibly involving
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  1. Great post! I'd love to read more own voices Asian (historical) fiction! I'm definitely looking all three up on Goodreads.

    I read The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel last year, and absolutely loved it. I still need to read the second book of the duology though. It's historical fiction, set in China around 600-700 AD, and revolves around the life of empress Wu (and how she became empress). :)

    1. Ooh, that looks interesting! o.o TO GOODREADS!!!!! *plays fanfare!* ;)

  2. Thanks for the reviews, Cee! I definitely agree that I need to read more widely, specifically in Asian culture. A Golden Age definitely sounds like something I'd be interested in!

    1. A Golden Age was awesome! So interesting, and with a really strong female lead :)

  3. Cee,
    This is such a true statement about how my reading is as inclusive to diverse groups as I want it to be. I definitely need to try to read more books from different places, especially #ownvoices ones. Marie Lu is probably the most prominent Asian American author I know. I have her books.

    1. I haven't read any books by her, but I know a lot of people like them! :)

  4. I am actually in love with Asia, and the cultures. I don't read much set there. I went through a period a few years ago where I only read Indian mythology and fiction. And then I read some novels about Chinese immigrants who were adapting to American life. I've been to China once. But I do need to read more novels. A Golden Age sounds great to me :)

    1. I think you'd really enjoy that one - it seems like a Liv kind of book! :)


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