Thanks to Hanif Kureishi writing in Asia House for these recommendations of the best Asian Fiction f 2014.
‘Fans of Asian fiction were spoilt for choice in 2014, with the year bringing a mixture of new novels from established authors and impressive entries from lesser-known ones.’
Neel Mukherjee’s second novel The Lives of Others was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize. ‘His brilliant storytelling was displayed as he looked at the heart-breaking tale of a family in 1960s Calcutta’.
Japanese author Haruki Murakami delivered Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, – ‘signature Murakami – mind-bending plots suffused with cultural references’. It sold over one million copies in 2013 in Japan alone in the first week of publication. It was translated into English in 2014. His earlier classics include Kafka on the Shore and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Kashmir-born Mirza Waheed (previous novel The Collaborator) has a great second book, The Book of Gold Leaves. ‘A love story set in the war-torn region – intelligent, gripping read, building in anticipation with each page’.
Susan Barker takes readers on a tour of China’s most dramatic historical periods with The Incarnations, which ‘tells the story of a 21st century Beijing taxi driver who is haunted by a mysterious someone professing to be his soul mate’.
Turkey’s Elif Shafak has produced a magical story with The Architect’s Apprentice. In her 16thC tale, she reconstructs the glorious Ottoman Empire and uses its architecture as a metaphor on how lives are built and destroyed.
Chinese-British novelist Xiaolu Guo’s I Am China is also about the coming together of different cultures. It looks at one of China’s biggest battlegrounds, free speech, and how it manifests in a globalised context. Her previous book was the acclaimed A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary For Lovers
Another one of China’s most prominent writers, Yiyun Li, author of The Vagrants, continued her gritty style with Kinder Than Solitude, a tale of attempted murder, power and corruption set between America today and China in the 1990s.
Mamoon is an eminent Indian-born writer who has made a career in England – but now, in his early 70s, his reputation is fading, sales have dried up, and his new wife has expensive taste. Harry, a young writer, is commissioned to write a biography to revitalise both Mamoon’s career and his bank balance. Harry greatly admires Mamoon’s work and wants to uncover the truth of the artist’s life. Harry’s publisher seeks a more naked truth, a salacious tale of sex and scandal that will generate headlines. Meanwhile Mamoon himself is mining a different vein of truth altogether. Harry and Mamoon find themselves in a battle of wills, but which of them will have the last word?