Thursday 31 August 2023

7 Asian Historical Novels From My TBR

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Title: 7 Asian Historical Novels From My TBR

Since my To-Be-Read (TBR) list is always growing exponentially -

and I may never get the time to read every book that's on it (or even a fraction of all the books that's on there - there's like 1000 books, Send. Help.)

- from time to time I like to throw together a list focussing on some of the diverse titles on there.

Partly to spotlight these books, and partly to remind me what I want to read and why I wanted to read it! 😅

This time around, it's time for a TBR post for some of the Asian historical novels on my list.

These are all (to the best of my knowledge) both set in Asia, and written by Asian authors.

(Obviously, since this is a TBR, I haven't read any of these - they might be amazing, they might be awful, they might be anywhere in between!)

The Committed book coverA Suitable Boy book cover

The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen

This is the sequel to the Pulitzer-Prize-winning The Sympathizer, which is a book that chewed me up and spat me out, so obviously I want to read the follow-up!

After the brutal events of the Vietnam war and its aftermath, our unnamed main character has fled as a refugee to Paris, where he becomes embroiled in drug-dealing while dealing with all the sh** he’s been through from the first book.

Viet Thanh Nguyen’s got this habit of turning any scenario into something much deeper, so despite how hard-hitting it’s bound to be as a read, I’m really looking forward to it. I might have to re-read The Sympathizer as a refresher first though!

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

I added this one to my TBR after seeing the BBC adaptation (because I end up doing that a lot!)

Set in the 1950s, as India begins to build itself as an independent nation, this centres on Lata, and her mother’s attempts to find a ‘suitable’ husband for her.

There’s a lot of other stuff going on, and a wide scope of characters to follow, but Lata’s potential marriage, and all of its implications and permutations, is the central plot.

I do want to read this, but I’m also aware that’s it’s a freaking ginormous book, so it might take me a while to get around to.


Ghost Bride book coverButterfly Yellow book cover

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

I loved the Netflix series of this, so onto the list it went

Set during British rule in Malaysia, the story takes place amongst members of the Chinese-Malaysian community.

Li Lan, the daughter of a family with moderate status, but impoverished circumstances, is offered a position as a ghost bride – if she accepts she will ‘marry’ the recently deceased son of the Lim family, and become his widow, with the status and mourning duties that entails.

This is paranormal-fantasy-ish, with maybe even a dash of horror, depending on where you place the line between the genres. 

But it’s set in ye olde times so it totally counts for this list! 😅

Butterfly Yellow by Thanhhà Lại

This is a YA book about two siblings, Linh and Hằng who are separated in the chaos of the US retreat from Vietnam.

Years later they are reunited in the USA – but Hằng is devastated when she realises her baby brother doesn’t remember her, or Vietnam.

Sounds like it could be a tough read, but an interesting one, and one which sadly still has too much relevance to the world we live in today.


Train To Pakistan book coverThe Valley of Amazement book coverThe Tapestries book cover

Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh

Even though this was published in 1956, it still counts as historical fiction because it was set in 1947. (I reckon that counts – and I make the rules around here.) It also probably counts as a modern classic.

Anywho, this is a novel about the partition between India and Pakistan, looking at the affects on the residents of a village that sits on the new border.

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

This is about an American woman, Lulu, working as a madame in a 1920s Shanghai brothel, and her daughter, Violet, who is biracial, and ends up working as a courtesan.

There’s a really interesting Goodreads interview with Amy Tan here which discusses her inspirations and reasoning behind this book, and really made me want to read it.

The Tapestries by Kien Nguyen

I don’t know much about this one, other than it’s set in Vietnam during French colonial rule, and is focussed on a boy named Dan who enters into an arranged marriage at the age of seven. 

Later, and against a backdrop of violence and drama, Dan falls in love with someone else. (Dun-dun-duuuun!)

Have you read any of these?
Do you have any recommendations?
Talk to me! 😊💬

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  1. Train to Pakistan sounds interesting! My grandparents tell me stories about partition often. I've been trying to read/watch more on the subject.

    1. A lot of people talk highly about Train to Pakistan, so yeah I def. wanna read it! There's a short Book Riot list on partition, if you're interested:


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