2019: Round-up of “Best Books” lists

2019-6

How did Asia fare in the “Best Books” sweepstakes of 2019? This is partly keeping score, but there are also undoubtedly many excellent recommendations and hidden gems in these many lists.

In this (unscientific) sampling, we take a broad view of what constitutes an “Asian” book. Japanese literature makes a strong showing, while there seem to be an increasing number of Asian-American authors listed, even if their books make have little if anything explicitly to do with Asia (which may also be a good sign). Asian authors seem to do particularly well in specialized lists, such as those for debut novels, which is (hopefully) a leading indicator.

In translated fiction, The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa seems to come out on top, while in Asia-set English-language fiction, Julia Phillips’s novel about Kamchatka, Disappearing Earth, received many mentions.

Click on the title for our review; and see the ARB’s own list of the favorite Asian books from 2019.

New York Times 100 notable books of 2019

 

Washington Post 50 Notable Works of fiction

 

Foreign Policy: Best Books of 2019

  • An Impeccable Spy: Richard Sorge, Stalin’s Master Agent by Owen Matthews
  • The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny of Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong Un by Anna Fifield
  • They Will Have to Die Now: Mosul and the Fall of the Caliphate James Verini
  • Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy, 1945–1975 by Max Hastings
  • Armies of Sand: The Past, Present, and Future of Arab Military Effectiveness by Kenneth M. Pollack
  • The Thirty-Year Genocide: Turkey’s Destruction of Its Christian Minorities, 1894–1924 by Benny Morris and Dror Ze’evi
  • Challenging Beijing’s Mandate of Heaven: Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement and Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement by Ming-Sho Ho
  • Special Duty: A History of the Japanese Intelligence Community by Richard J. Samuels

Time: 100 Must-Read Books of 2019

  • The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa
  • China Dream by Ma Jian
  • Good Talk by Mira Jacob
  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
  • Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok
  • Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
  • The Unpassing by Chia-Chia Lin
  • Quichotte by Salman Rusdie
  • Where Reasons End by Li Yiyun
  • Oculus: Poems by Sally Wen Mao
  • The Collected Schizophrenias, Essays by Esmé Weijun Wang
  • Dear Girls by Ali Wong
  • This Land Is Our Land by Suketu Mehta

37 books for history lovers: BBC History Magazine’s Books of the Year 2019

  • Maoism: A Global History by Julia Lovell
  • The Scythians: Nomad Warriors of the Steppe by Barry Cunliffe
  • Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resis­tance and British Dissent by Priyamvada Gopal
  • Crusaders: An Epic History of the Wars for the Holy Lands by Dan Jones
  • Chinese Thought: From Confucius to Cook Ding by Roel Sterckx
  • The Greek Experience of India by Richard Stoneman

World Literature Today’s 75 Notable Translations of 2019

  • Flowers of Mold by Ha Seong-nan
  • The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa
  • The Factory by Hiroko Oyamada
  • Muslim: A Novel by Zahia Rahmani
  • Paper-Thin Skin by Aigerim Tazhi
  • Nour’s Escape, by Abir Ali, ill. Gulnar Hajo
  • I Will Never See the World Again by Ahmet Altan
  • The Book of Collateral Damage by Sinan Antoon
  • The Book of Disappearance by Ibtisam Azem
  • Broken Stars: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation, ed. by Ken Liu
  • Waste Tide by Chen Qiufan
  • Dawn by Selahattin Demirtaş
  • Older Brother by Mahir Guven
  • Death Is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa
  • Children of the Ghetto: My Name Is Adam by Elias Khoury
  • Women of the Family by Mahmoud Shukair
  • Zuleikha by Guzel Yakhina
  • Hysteria by Kim Yideum

Publishers Weekly Top-10, Best Fiction & Non-Fiction

  • Good Talk by Mira Jacob
  • The Factory by Hiroko Oyamada
  • The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay
  • Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS by Azadeh Moaven
  • Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
  • The Sweetest Fruits by Monique Truong
  • Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
  • Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS by Azadeh Moaveni
  • The Collected Schizophrenias, Essays by Esmé Weijun Wang

Kirkus Reviews: Best Fiction

  • Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad
  • Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
  • The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa
  • The Fox and Dr Shimamura by Christine Wunnicke
  • Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima
  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
  • Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi
  • Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha
  • Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
  • The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
  • Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

 

Library Journal

  • Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
  • Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA by Amaryllis Fox
  • Good Talk by Mira Jacob
  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
  • Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha
  • Home Remedies: Stories by Xuan Juliana Wang
  • Oculus: Poems by Sally Wen Mao
  • Grass by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim
  • A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves: One Family and Migration in the 21st Century by Jason DeParle

New York Public Library: Best Boooks for Adults

  • Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
  • Good Talk by Mira Jacob
  • The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa
  • Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
  • Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
  • The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
  • Broken Stars: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation, ed. by Ken Liu
  • Tsunami vs. the Fukushima 50 by Lee Ann Roripaugh

 

Chicago Public Library

 

Vanity Fair

 

Christian Science Monitor: Best fiction of 2019

  • Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
  • The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See
  • The Parisian by Isabella Hammad

 

Esquire: The Best Books of 2019 (So Far)

 

Glamour: The Best Books of 2019 (So Far)

  • The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
  • The Collected Schizophrenias, Essays by Esmé Weijun Wang
  • Dear Girls by Ali Wong

 

AV Club 15 Favourite Books of 2109

 

Entertainment Weekly 10 + 10 Best Books of 2019

  • Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
  • Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

 

BuzzFeed: These Are The Best Books Of 2019

  • Good Talk by Mira Jacob
  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
  • Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha
  • The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung
  • The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays by Esmé Weijun Wang

 

New Yorker: The Best Books of 2019 & Favourite Non-Fiction Books of 2019

  • Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
  • A Woman Like Her: The Short Life of Qandeel Baloch by Sanam Maher

    Parade: These Are the 25 Best Books of 2019

  • The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
  • Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

 

Vulture: The Best Overlooked Books of 2019

 

Paste: The 19 Best Novels of 2019

  • Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad
  • The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang
  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

 

Entertainment Weekly: The 10 best debut novels of 2019

  • Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
  • The Unpassing by Chia-Chia Lin
  • Frankly in Love by David Yoon

 

BookRiot: Best books of 2019 and 50 Must-Read Books You Might Have Missed in 2019

  • They Called Us Enemy by George Takei
  • Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad
  • Home Remedies by Xuan Juliana Wang
  • Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali
  • The Plotters by Un-su Kim
  • The Unlikely Adventures Of The Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal
  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
  • Natalie Tan’s Book Of Luck And Fortune by Roselle Lim
  • The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays by Esmé Weijun Wang
  • Soft Science by Franny Choi
  • Realm of Ash by Tasha Suri
  • We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir by Samra Habib
  • Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
  • The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
  • Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha
  • The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

LitHub’s 50 Favorite Books of the Year

  • Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima
  • Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha
  • The Collected Schizophrenias, Essays by Esmé Weijun Wang
  • Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

CBC: The best international fiction of 2019

  • We, The Survivors by Tash Aw
  • Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
  • Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi
  • Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
  • Where Reasons End by Yiyun Li
  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

 

The AU Review: The 16 Best Books of 2019

Boston Globe: 18 best books of 2019

  • Where Reasons End by Yiyun Li
  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

PopMatters: The Best Books of 2019: Non-Fiction and Fiction

  • They Called Us Enemy by George Takei
  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
  • Palestine + 100: Stories from a Century After the Nakba
  • The Sea Cloak & Other stories by Nayrouz Qarmout
  • Star by Yukio Mishima
  • The Sweetest Fruits by Monique Truong
  • A Beginner’s Guide to Japan by Pico Iyer
  • No Friend But the Mountains by Behrouz Boochani
  • Pious Fashion: How Muslim Women Dress by Elizabeth Bucar
  • The Sakura Obsession: The Incredible Story of the Plant Hunter Who Saved Japan’s Cherry Blossoms by Naoko Abe
  • This Land is Our Land: An Immigrant’s Manifesto by Suketu Mehta