A novel based on anthropologist and author Nigel Barley’s writing career might well be called The Man Who Collected Colorful European Characters from the History of Southeast Asia.
If you don’t like creepy crawlies, have no fear: Miss Benson’s Beetle is a comic quest to find oneself rather than the eponymous insect.
Alan Mikhail’s much-publicized and lavishly-illustrated new book on Selim I, which he calls “a revisionist account, providing a new and more holistic picture of the last five centuries,” would seem, at first, to be a very welcome addition to a rather sparse list of books, especially biographies, on Ottoman sultans.
For the countries of Southeast Asia, geographical proximity to China is a blessing and a curse. In the Dragon’s Shadow, Southeast Asia in the Chinese Century, by Sebastian Strangio, manages to sketch the history these nations have with China and detail the current geopolitical situation in an engaging fashion. While the book is prefaced with an imposing list of acronyms for the political parties and economic agreements discussed, this Yale University Press publication is the work of a journalist with an excellent grip on history rather than an academic.
With the exception of Singapore and Malaysia, where English is relatively widely used, and with the further exception of so-called “expat fiction” featuring foreign protagonists, Southeast Asia seemingly generates fewer novels in English—whether in translation or written directly in the language—than other regions of South and East Asia. This situation has ameliorated somewhat in recent years, a period that has coincided with the rise of a regional Southeast Asian culture and media market. Southeast Asian publishers are increasing sourcing and marketing books regionally.
Danilo Cruz, the protagonist of Danton Remoto’s Riverrun, is a young Filipino man raised near an American army base. From the get-go, something about Danilo is different, and everyone in his village can make it out. Even as a young boy, going to watch television at a friend’s house, the mother responds by slamming the door in his face. His reaction is violent.
Last Mission to Tokyo is the story of the 1946 war crimes trial of four Japanese men for the torture and death of three American airmen who bombed Japan in the famous and daring Doolittle Raid four months after Pearl Harbor. It is told from the perspective of a US Department of Defense criminal defense lawyer who has defended accused terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and who has been publicly critical of the work of US Military Commissions in the so-called “War on Terror”.