Asia Bookroom's Book Club

Asia Bookroom runs a book group! Join a friendly, informal group of people interested in reading and discussing books of Asian interest.
 
When Does the Group Meet?
Book group members meet every 6 - 8 weeks at Asia Bookroom's premises in Macquarie in Belconnen. We welcome new members.
 

What Types of Books Does the Group Read?

Asia Book Group reads a wide variety of books on all parts of Asia. The books are chosen by the group and might be fiction or non fiction, literary or popular - all of them have in common interesting Asia related themes and ideas which are ideal for discussion. From time to time we are privileged to have the author present.

The list of the books we are reading this year together with dates of this year's meetings can be found below.

Who Can Join?

Everyone is welcome. We know how daunting it can be to join a new group but rest assured everyone is welcome in our friendly group. We really value everyone's input - the more disparate the views the more interesting. Members come from a variety of different backgrounds and include people who have travelled or lived in Asia, people with an Asian family background, people who have studied an Asian language or culture, as well as people who have never left Australia but are interested in reading and discussing something different! The group size varies from time to time but usually about 15 - 20 people attend a meeting.

Does It Cost to Belong?

No, there is no charge to belong to the group but we do ask that you buy the book group book from Asia Bookroom. The good news is that book group members receive a 10% discount on all book group books.

When Does Asia Book Group Meet?

Our meetings are held between 6pm and 7.30pm on a Thursday every 6 - 8 weeks but can occasionally vary from this. At the foot of this page you will see the names of the forthcoming books and the dates we will be meeting to discuss them.

I Am Not Sure That I Can Attend Every Meeting - Does This Matter? No it doesn't matter, you are welcome to come as regularly or irregularly as you like. We understand that members' lives are busy and we welcome you when you can come but understand when you can't. RSVPs for seating and refreshment purposes are appreciated but not essential.

How Do I Know What Books to Read and the Date of the Next Meeting? Contact Asia Bookroom by email books@AsiaBookroom.com or phone 6251 5191. Our book Group email list which you are now subscribed to will keep you up-to-date with book details and meeting dates.

 

The Ballad of a Small Player - Lawrence Osborne

Thursday February 7, 2019 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

'I waited patiently for the next hand to be played out, and I had a feeling it was going to be a Natural, a perfect nine.'

His name is Lord Doyle.

His plan- to gamble away his last days in the dark and decadent casino halls of Macau.

His game- baccarat punto blanco -- 'that slutty dirty queen of casino card games.'

Though Doyle is not a Lord at all. He is a fake; a corrupt lawyer who has spent a career siphoning money from rich clients. And now he is on the run, determined to send the money - and himself - up in smoke.

So begins a beguiling, elliptical velvet rope of a plot- a sharp suit, yellow kid gloves, another naughty lemonade and an endless loop of small wins and losses. When Lady Luck arrives in the form of Dao-Ming, a beautiful yet enigmatic lost soul, so begins a spectacular and unnatural winning streak in which millions come Doyle's way. But in these shadowy dens of risk and compulsion, in a land governed by superstition, Doyle knows that when the bets are high, the stakes are even greater.

The Ballad of a Small Player is a sleek, dark-hearted masterpiece- a ghost story set in the land of the living, and a decadent morality tale of a Faustian pact made, not with the devil, but with fortune's fickle hand.

The Missing guests of the Magic Grove Hotel - David Casarett

Thursday March 21, 2019 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

As a nurse ethnicist, Ladarat Patalung works to save the lives of her patients, and to make sure the ones she can't save have at least the dignity of a "good death."

But when wealthy foreign travelers start to go missing all across Thailand, Detective Wiriya Mookjai fears that death is in their future, and not the good kind, and turns to Ladarat for help. The travelers have nothing in common, except for brief stays at a mysterious resort, known as the Magic Grove Hotel...

Meet Ladarat Patalung - the first and only nurse detective in Thailand.

Man Tiger - Eka Kurniawan

Thursday May 2, 2019 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

A slim, wry story set in an unnamed town near the Indian Ocean, Man Tiger tells the story of two interlinked and tormented families, and of Margio, an ordinary half-city, half-rural youngster who also happens to be half-man, half-supernatural female white tiger (in many parts of Indonesia, magical tigers protect good villages and families).At once elegant and bawdy, experimental and political, Man Tiger will help to establish Indonesia's new voice, underrepresented in world literature, while demonstrating the influence of world literature on Indonesian writers.

"After half a century," writes renowned Indonesia scholar Benedict Anderson, "Pramoedya Ananta Toer has found a successor." Eka Kurniawan has been described as the "brightest meteorite" in Indonesia's new literary firmament, the author of two remarkable novels whose sheer beauty, elegance, cosmopolitanism, and ambition have brought comparisons not only to Pramoedya, universally considered Indonesia's modern literary genius, but also to Salman Rushdie, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Mark Twain. A new generation of young literary figures in Indonesia, emerging after decades of repressive dictatorship ended in 1998, is renewing the culture of the world's largest Muslim nation (and its language, which was only nationally instituted in 1945). Kurniawan's Beauty Is a Wound and Man Tiger are the capstones of this movement.

Danger Music - Eddie Ayres

Thursday June 13, 2019 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

'A timely, powerfully-told tale, written with forthrightness and compassion.' The Age

'. . . opens our eyes to the beauty that can be found in the worst of places. It is a brave and incredibly inspiring story.' OUTInPerth
 
Eddie Ayres has a lifetime of musical experience -- from learning the viola as a child, to playing with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and moving to Australia to present an extremely successful ABC Classic FM morning radio show.

In 2014 Eddie was spiralling into a deep depression - he quit the radio, travelled, and decided on a surprising path to salvation. Eddie applied for a position at Dr Sarmast's renowned Afghanistan National Institute of Music in Kabul, teaching cello to orphans and street kids in a war zone.

In Danger Music, Eddie takes us through the bombs and chaos of Kabul, into the lives of the Afghan children who are transported by Bach, Abba, Beethoven and their own exhilarating Afghan music. Alongside these epic experiences, Eddie determines to take the final steps to secure his own peace; he allows himself to become the man he always knew was waiting for him.
 
'Captivating, moving and relevant . . . this book is one of the best memoirs I've ever read.' The Bibliophile's Bookshelf

The Civil Servant's Notebook - Wang Xiaofang

Thursday July 18, 2019 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

Dongzhou City needs a new mayor. Devious plots, seduction, blackmail and bribery are all on the table in a no-holds-barred scramble for prestige and personal gain as the city's two vice-mayors compete for the top honour. At the centre of it all is a humble witness to events, a notebook whose pages contain information they should not ......    Penned by a former insider, The Civil Servant's Notebook is a political page-turner that offers a glimpse into the complex psyches of those who roam the guarded halls of Chinese officialdom.

A Rising Man - Abir Mukherjee

Thursday August 15, 2019 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

This book is selected as a Book of the Year 2016 in the Daily Telegraph. The winner of the Harvill Secker/Daily Telegraph crime writing competition Captain Sam Wyndham, former Scotland Yard detective, is a new arrival to Calcutta. Desperately seeking a fresh start after his experiences during the Great War, Wyndham has been recruited to head up a new post in the police force. But with barely a moment to acclimatise to his new life or to deal with the ghosts which still haunt him, Wyndham is caught up in a murder investigation that will take him into the dark underbelly of the British Raj.  A senior official has been murdered, and a note left in his mouth warns the British to quit India: or else. With rising political dissent and the stability of the Raj under threat, Wyndham and his two new colleagues - arrogant Inspector Digby and British-educated, but Indian-born Sergeant Banerjee, one of the few Indians to be recruited into the new CID - embark on an investigation that will take them from the luxurious parlours of wealthy British traders to the seedy opium dens of the city. The start of an atmospheric and enticing new historical crime series.

The Book of Tea - Okakura, Kakuzo

Thursday September 26, 2019 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

For a generation adjusting painfully to the demands of a modern industrial and commercial society, Asia came to represent an alternative vision of the good life: aesthetically austere, socially aristocratic, and imbued with spirituality. "The Book of Tea" was originally written in English and sought to address the inchoate yearnings of disaffected Westerners. In a flash of inspiration, Okakura saw that the formal tea party as practiced in New England was a distant cousin of the Japanese tea ceremony, and that East and West had thus 'met in the tea-cup'.

Fish Girl - Miranda Riwoe

Thursday October 31, 2019 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

In conjunction with Fish Girl we will also read Somerset Maugham's The Four Dutchmen and discuss the two stories together. The Four Dutchmen is very short and a link to this story will be sent out.

Sparked by the description of a "Malay trollope" in Somerset Maugham's story, The Four Dutchmen, Mirandi Riwoe's novella, The Fish Girl tells of an Indonesian girl whose life is changed irrevocably when she moves from a small fishing village to work in the house of a Dutch merchant. There she finds both hardship and tenderness as her traditional past and colonial present collide.

Told with an exquisitely restrained voice and coloured with lush description, this moving book will stay with you long after the last page.

Shortlisted for the 2018 Stella Pr

Pachinko - Min Jin Lee

Thursday December 5, 2019 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

A victorian epic transplanted to Japan, following a Korean family of immigrants through eight decades and four generations.    Shortlisted for the National Book Award     One of the New York Times's 10 Best Books of 2017     Yeongdo, Korea 1911. In a small fishing village on the banks of the East Sea, a club-footed, cleft-lipped man marries a fifteen-year-old girl. The couple have one child, their beloved daughter Sunja. When Sunja falls pregnant by a married yakuza, the family face ruin. But then Isak, a Christian minister, offers her a chance of salvation: a new life in Japan as his wife.   Following a man she barely knows to a hostile country in which she has no friends, no home, and whose language she cannot speak, Sunja's salvation is just the beginning of her story.   Through eight decades and four generations,  Pachinko  is an epic tale of family, identity, love, death and survival.

We have read well over 70 books since the book group began.