#TTWIBRAT: My favorite books and authors from Asia & Africa

What a perfect discussion post to get me going through my stacks and favourites! Being Asian, I have a soft spot for stories that are set in Asia. In the course of the Travel the World in Books Reading Challenge, I have also recently discovered so many wonderful stories set in Africa.

The goal of Travel the World in Books Reading Challenge:

Explore countries other than the one where you live. Read as much as you can of books set in a different country or by an author from a different country. Read for your own pleasure or learning, read with your kids or both. Travel the world from the comfort of your own home and learn about different cultures. Expand your horizons and show publishers that #WeNeedDiverseBooks to promote cultural understanding and diversity in our reading. Support diverse authors and books.

Here are some books that I've read, loved and recommend. This is not an exhaustive list and I plan on getting to a full listing over time!

You can check also out my Book Map for the settings of all my reads. Check out my sidebar and look for the drop down "Travel the World in Books" which lists the country settings.

And here we go ... click on the titles for full reviews:



I've actually been to China but never got to see the Great Wall! Here are two very different books that celebrate this ancient country.  

A masterful story build around the theme of reincarnation, highlighting the fascinating people of and the brutal history of China.

A charming and fascinating look into China and Chinese culture in this travelogue memoir. Definitely worth the read!


India has always fascinated me and books set in India will almost always captivate me by that mere fact. Here are a few outstanding books I've had the pleasure of reading.

A recent read for #Diversiverse! A devastating family secret is finally revealed in this tragic tale of struggle, love and grief set in India. A non-linear and poetic quality of a narrative, this award-winning novel has the power to intimidate you ... or entrance you. I hope it's the latter.

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Read this ages ago and I still can't let go of my copy.The White Tiger exposes the dark side of an impoverished India where the small are eaten up by the big, moneyed and powerful ... if they let them. A provokingly realistic read which I highly recommend!

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
I plan on rereading this because I remember how affected I was the first time around ... in 2007! 


I have two go-to Japanese authors that I love and auto-buy. Unfortunately I don't seem to review their books much! Both Haruki Murakami have a minimalist and rather alienating writing.

After the Quake by Haruki Murakami
Other books I've read and I'd recommend written by Murakami are Norwegian Wood, Kafka on the Shore, The Wind-Up Chronicle, The Elephant Vanishes, A wild Sheep Chase, and Blind Willow Sleeping Woman. I know, I know, I really should write those reviews.

N.P. by Banana Yoshimoto
Yoshimoto is well-known for her novel Kitchen, but I was most captivated by her short story collections N.P. and Asleep.

The Philippines

I hail from the Philippines and find it embarrassing not to be able to recommend more. It's because I haven't read very many to begin with, but I am slowly infusing my reading with books authored/set in my country. 

Being a short story nut, I couldn't help picking this up. I highly recommend this collection of short stories by renowned Filipino author. Each story is a gem with its unique take on family life, love, and faith during the Spanish colonial period in the Philippines.

Gagamba: The Spider Man by F. Sionil Jose
F. Sionil Jose is a national artist for literature. I highly recommend this  collection of vignettes of the common man and woman, a portrayed in this story featuring a disfigured beggar called Gagamba.

Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco
This won the Man Asian Literary prize and was funny! I couldn't understand why most people didn't pick up on the joke ... must be too snide? No, I was kidding -- it's because it's very culturally rooted and what is funny in the Filipino context may come across total differently for someone else.


Aunty Lee's Delights: A Singaporean Mystery by Ovidia Yu
Aunty Lee's Deadly Specials by Ovidia Yu
I loved my mysteries and this series of foodie mysteries set in Singapore featuring the nosy Aunty Lee appeals to me with its perfect combination of food, sleuthing with a distinctly Singaporean flavour!

This is a tragedy and an illumination of self-identity tied in to the symbol of the veil. I highly recommend this for those who enjoy multicultural stories and those who are looking for a better understanding of the pressures modern women face within traditional cultures.

This is about self-awareness and self-identity. Who are we? Are we simply the product of our environment, of what we read, of what we absorb? Is there a "you" who exists apart from these influences? Is it even possible to exist without these influences?


A chilling collection of ghost stories which is an unusual treatment to drive home the themes of immigration, grappling with the past and tradition, and discovering one's identity. This is an unsettling read that I recommend this to those who enjoy immigrant stories, short stories, and those who'd like to experience a different type of scary.

AVietnamese immigrant's life story told in poetic snapshots. A story that I will keep close to me to remind myself that I too had a different life and have a world of possibility in this new life I've chosen.


While graphic and disturbing, these stories told by children in a conflict-ridden Africa, is a brave voice that speaks of the inequities and the horrors that exist in the world. A short story collection that will challenge and provoke you.


An eye-opener of a book about the moral dilemma of how poverty can drive people to a resourceful survival at the expense of integrity. While set in a Nigeria, readers will be able to relate to the timeless values of providing for and taking care of family, and the hope for a better life.

This is a realistic portrayal of war set in Nigeria. Be ready for a gutwrenchingly brutal story of what zealous patriotism can result in for a country and the lives of its peoples. The impacts are lasting and real despite this being a fictionalized retelling.

Have you read any of these? Which ones would you like to read?

Can you recommend any fantastic books you've read from Asia and Africa?

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© guiltless readingMaira Gall