How did Asia fare in the best books’ races in the English language press? On the whole, it seems better than last year. The following (unscientific) sampling uses a broad definition of “Asian” in it’s selection, but nevertheless, the number of books about Asia, by Asian authors, in translation seems to have increased in the past twelve months, at least as far as end-of-year listings are concerned.

Korea: The Impossible Country, Daniel Tudor (Tuttle, November 2018)
Korea: The Impossible Country, Daniel Tudor (Tuttle, November 2018)

In just fifty years, South Korea has transformed itself from a failed state, ruined and partitioned by war and decades of colonial rule, into an economic powerhouse and a democracy that serves as a model for other countries. How was it able to achieve this with no natural resources and a tradition of authoritarian rule? Who are the Koreans and how did they accomplish this second Asian miracle?

Beyond Debt: Islamic Experiments in Global Finance, Daromir Rudnyckyj (NUS Press, November 2018)
Beyond Debt: Islamic Experiments in Global Finance, Daromir Rudnyckyj (NUS Press, November 2018)

Beyond Debt describes efforts to create a transnational economy free of debt. Based on research in Malaysia, Daromir Rudnyckyj illustrates how the state, led by the central bank, seeks to make Kuala Lumpur “the New York of the Muslim world”—the central node of global financial activity conducted in accordance with Islam.