Award-Winning Books by Asian Authors You Should Read Part II

If you enjoyed our previous book recommendations written by Asian authors, you will surely love this other set of suggestions. We picked the most relevant novels that would make you entertained while also learning the compelling struggles, social norms, and cultures of the Asian communities.

Sit back, relax, and delve into the beautiful and excellent literary works of our Asian brothers and sisters!

Photo credits to Urdu Bazaar

1. Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer
    by Cyrus Mistry

The book is about the Parsi community of corpse bearers, who transport the dead bodies to be buried in Bombay during the pre-Independence era of India. A poor student and the son of a priest, Phiroze, upholds his family's dismay by falling in love with Sepideh, a "khandhia" or a corpse bearer. He later weds her and takes on the role of a corpse bearer as well. Upon Sepideh's passing, Phiroze and his daughter are left in mourning.

Cyrus Mistry's remarkable book, which is based on a true story, is a stirring chronicle of tragic love that also vividly visualizes the humiliation faced by individuals who live on the merciless fringes of history. The engrossing conflict between socio-economic classes and norms that develops in the story is an intriguing exploration of modern Indian society and the identities of all minorities that are currently marginalized. Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer won the coveted DSC Prize for South Asian Literature in 2014.

Photo credits to Simon & Schuster

2. The White Tiger
    by Aravind Adiga

The plot centers on Balram Halwai, a self-described "self-made entrepreneur." He is the son of a rickshaw driver who masterfully climbs India's social ladder to become a chauffeur and ultimately a prosperous businessman. In an open letter to Premier Wen Jiabao of China, Balram shares his life narrative in an effort to inform the premier about entrepreneurship in India.

Through a retrospective narration from the life of Balram Halwai, the novel offers a darkly humorous view of India's class struggle in a globalized world. In the book, Hinduism, caste, loyalty, corruption, and poverty in India are all examined. The book has been critically acclaimed – it was on the New York Times bestseller list and won the Booker Prize. Aravind Adiga, who was 33 at the time, was the second-youngest writer and at the same time the fourth debut author that won the award. The Independent, a British online newspaper, has also named it as one of the top 12 Indian novels.

Photo credits to Fully Booked

3. The Garden of Evening Mists
    by Tan Twan Eng

Tan Twan Eng, a Malaysian author, first released The Garden of Evening Mists in November 2011. It is his second book to be published in English. The protagonist of the story, Teoh Yun Ling, was a Japanese prisoner during World War II who ultimately rose to the position of war crimes judge. She ends up working as an apprentice to a Japanese gardener in Cameron Highlands for several months during the Malayan Emergency in an effort to construct a garden in remembrance of her sister, who was imprisoned with her but did not survive, after the war. Years after the events of the novel, she is still attempting to make sense of her life.

The book's critical reception was generally positive. It received the Man Asian Literary Prize, and the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, and was named on the Booker Prize shortlist. In collaboration with three other production organizations, HBO Asia turned it into a feature film that was released in 2019.

Photo credits to Goodreads

4. Goat Days
    by Benyamin

The story revolves around Indian immigrant Najeeb Mohammed, who goes missing in Saudi Arabia. Najeeb had always wanted to work in the countries of the Persian Gulf and make enough money to send back home. He succeeds in achieving his dream, but a string of unfortunate events forces him into a life of slave-like reality, herding goats in the midst of the Saudi desert. Najeeb ultimately sets up a risky plan to escape his incarceration in the desert. The work is referred to as "a universal narrative of loneliness and alienation" and "the odd and bitter comedy of Najeeb's life in the desert" in the introduction by Penguin Books India.

The book, which is based on real events, was very popular in Kerala. With the release of this "hard-hitting story," Benyamin infamously became an "overnight phenomenon" and is today one of the best-selling authors in Malayalam. Goat Days' original Malayalam translation has been printed more than 100 times. The novel's English translation was included on the Man Asian Literary Prize 2012 longlist and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2013 shortlist. Benyamin also received the Kerala Literary Academy Award in 2009.

These books are award-winning for a reason: they were all written with passion and an intention to inform, educate, entertain, and give a glimpse of the stunning cultures and communities of Asia.

Widen your horizon, open up your imagination, and get lost in the amazing worlds created by these sensational Asian authors! Happy reading!


Marjorie Ann M. Patricio is a Digital Marketing and Brand Development intern of PS Media Enterprise. She is currently a 4th-year Communication Research student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Sta. Mesa, Manila.


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item Award-Winning Books by Asian Authors You Should Read Part II
Award-Winning Books by Asian Authors You Should Read Part II
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