At first glance, Lawrence Osborne’s latest novel, On Java Road, seems to focus on the 2019 political climate in Hong Kong, but it soon becomes apparent that this serves more as a setting for what is a story of friendship, betrayal and, perhaps, redemption. The book, indeed, could possibly have been set at any time in Hong Kong’s modern history. The city has had its share of upheaval over the decades; Osborne’s story isn’t dependent on his choice of the most recent. He is a master of noir and it’s the atmosphere and place that are at the heart of this book.

Island of Bewilderment is a recent English translation of Jazire-ye Sargardāni, a historical novel by the late Simin Daneshvar, originally in Persian and published in 1992. Daneshvar (1921- 2012) was considered Iran’s first female novelist. Her books were about the lives of ordinary people, especially women, through the lens of political and social events in the country. She was also a renowned translator and counted Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard among her translations into Persian. She was the wife of the famous social critic and writer, Jalal Ale-Ahmad, also a writer of acclaim.