We love how a good travel book can transport the reader to different eras and faraway places, all with just a flip of the page. Here, some of our staffers share their favorite reads about Asia.
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
A student of Japanese art and language, Golden weaves a riveting story, as told through the voice of an aging woman recounting her life. The fictionalized tale follows a geisha working in Kyoto, and not only provides a telling look into the mysterious profession, but also captures life in Japan in the years leading up to World War II.
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
This screenwriter’s first novel offers an exotic and expansive look at a childhood shared by young twins in Kerala, India during the late 1960s. Unfolding in a circuitous fashion, the twins’ experiences are told against a tenuous backdrop of the crumbling caste system, encroaching Communism, local politics and family relations.
Along the Ganges by Ilija Trojanow
A Cape Town resident via Cold War-era Bulgaria, Trojanow is praised for his pan-continental view of Asian culture and religion. Weaving Hindu mythology into the story of his journey, the author draws parallels between the stories of the gods and goddesses and the physical topography of the river that runs between India and Bangladesh.
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
The first novel by journalist Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger is a captivating social commentary on the inequalities that exist in newly prosperous India. The novel’s narrator is the self-made Balram Halwai, a successful entrepreneur of humble origins. Balram’s narrative takes the form of a letter to the president of China, who is about to visit Bangalore. The letter describes Balram’s transformation and exemplifies the complications of Indian society.
River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze by Peter Hessler
A New York Times notable book and winner of the Kiriyama Book Prize, River Town is the account of Peter Hessler’s two-year stint as a Peace Corps teacher in Fuling, a small town on China’s Yangtze River. Hessler’s memoir is a riveting glimpse of his status as an “outsider,” and of Fuling’s struggle to hold on to centuries-old traditions as revolutionary ideas sweep through the region.
Looking for more travel reads? Check out our reading list of books about Africa.
What’s your favorite travel read? Tell us in the comments or tweet us at @goaheadtours!