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.

 

Botchan - Soeseki

Thursday February 23, 2017 6:00 PM

Botchan is a modern young man from the Tokyo metropolis, sent to the ultra-traditional Matsuyama district as a Maths teacher after his the death of his parents. Cynical, rebellious and immature, Botchan finds himself facing several tests, from the pupils - prone to playing tricks on their new, naive teacher; the staff - vain, immoral, and in danger of becoming a bad influence on Botchan; and from his own as-yet-unformed nature, as he finds his place in the world. One of the most popular novels in Japan where it is considered a classic of adolescence, as seminal as "The Catcher in the Rye", "Botchan" is as funny, poignant and memorable as it was when first published, over 100 years ago. In J. Cohn's introduction to his colourful translation, he discusses "Botchan's" success, the book's clash between Western intellectualism and traditional Japanese values, and the importance of names and nicknames in the novel.

Something Different in May! Two Books on Nagaland – Choose to read one or both

Wednesday May 3, 2017 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

For this months meeting we are doing something different. You are free to choose one of the following--or both--and we will discuss them both on the night:

Nagaland: A Journey to India’s Forgotten Frontier – Jonathan Glancey (Non Fiction)
And/Or
Bitter Wormwood – Easterine Kire (Fiction)

Nagaland: Nagaland has been fighting a secret, often brutal, war for independence for more than half a century. Portrayed either as a land of ruthless guerrillas or exotic natives, Nagaland is in fact a complex and divided region, with an incredible history. The breathtaking Naga hills take us to the offices of Adolf Hitler and Emperor Hirohito, via well-meaning colonialists and anthropologists, and one of the most important battles of the Second World War. Through extensive travels beyond the tourist zone, and through the voices of the Nagas he meets, and his family's links with the region, Johathan Glancey tells the true story of this forgotten land.

Bitter Wormwood: A young man has just been gunned down in cold blood - the latest casualty in the conflict that has brutalized the people of Nagaland, in the neglected northeastern corner of India. Rich in culture and history, "Bitter Wormwood" traces the story of one man's life from 1937 to 2007, offering poignant insight into the human cost behind the political headlines of one of India's most beautiful regions. In a gripping story that brings to life the processes that propel social change and transform communities, Easterine Kire skillfully renders the small incidents of Mose's childhood, his family, and the routines and rituals of traditional village life, painting an evocative picture of a peaceful way of life, now long-vanished. The coming of radio into Mose's family house marks the beginning of the changes that will connect them to the wider world. They learn of partition, independence, a land called America. Mose and his friends become involved in the Naga struggle for independence and are caught in a maelstrom of violence that ends up ripping communities apart.

The Vegetarian – Han Kang

Thursday June 8, 2017 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

Yeong-hye and her husband are ordinary people. He is an office worker with moderate ambitions and mild manners; she is an uninspired but dutiful wife. The acceptable flatline of their marriage is interrupted when Yeong-hye, seeking a more 'plant-like' existence, decides to become a vegetarian, prompted by grotesque recurring nightmares. In South Korea, where vegetarianism is almost unheard-of and societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye's decision is a shocking act of subversion. Her passive rebellion manifests in ever more bizarre and frightening forms, leading her bland husband to self-justified acts of sexual sadism. His cruelties drive her towards attempted suicide and hospitalisation. She unknowingly captivates her sister's husband, a video artist. She becomes the focus of his increasingly erotic and unhinged artworks, while spiralling further and further into her fantasies of abandoning her fleshly prison and becoming - impossibly, ecstatically - a tree. Fraught, disturbing and beautiful, The Vegetarian is a novel about modern day South Korea, but also a novel about shame, desire and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another.

Flood of Fire – Amitav Ghosh

Thursday July 20, 2017 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

The thrilling climax to the Ibis trilogy that began with the phenomenal Booker-shortlisted Sea of Poppies.  It is 1839 and tension has been rapidly mounting between China and British India following the crackdown on opium smuggling by Beijing. With no resolution in sight, the colonial government declares war. One of the vessels requisitioned for the attack, the Hind, travels eastwards from Bengal to China, sailing into the midst of the First Opium War. The turbulent voyage brings together a diverse group of travellers, each with their own agenda to pursue. Among them is Kesri Singh, a sepoy in the East India Company who leads a company of Indian sepoys; Zachary Reid, an impoverished young sailor searching for his lost love, and Shireen Modi, a determined widow en route to China to reclaim her opium-trader husband's wealth and reputation. Flood of Fire follows a varied cast of characters from India to China, through the outbreak of the First Opium War and China's devastating defeat, to Britain's seizure of Hong Kong.  Flood of Fire is a thrillingly realised and richly populated novel, imbued with a wealth of historical detail, suffused with the magic of place and plotted with verve.
It is a beautiful novel in its own right, and a compelling conclusion to an epic and sweeping story - it is nothing short of a masterpiece.

My Name is Red – Orhan Pamuk

Thursday August 31, 2017 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

In Istanbul, in the late 1590s, the Sultan secretly commissions a great book: a celebration of his life and his empire, to be illuminated by the best artists of the day - in the European manner. But when one of the miniaturists goes missing and is feared murdered, their master seeks outside help.

Home – Leila Chudori

Thursday October 12, 2017 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

"Night had fallen, without complaint, without pretext. Like a black net enclosing the city, ink from a monster squid spreading across Jakarta's entire landscape-the color of my uncertain future."  

So begins the novel "Home" ("Pulang") and Leila S Chudori's remarkable fictional account of the impact of the September 30 Movement of 1965. This "movement," blamed by military leaders on the Indonesian Communist Party, led to the murder of a million or more presumed Communists and the imprisonment of tens of thousands presumed leftists and sympathizers. Thousands of Indonesian citizens who were abroad at the time had their passports revoked and were left to live in exile. Thereafter, history was manipulated by the Soeharto government to portray its involvement in this atrocity in a favorable light. A whole generation of Indonesians was raised in world of forced silence, where facts were suppressed and left unspoken.  

While the tumultuous events of 1965 are the backdrop of the story, "Home" is not a novel about ideology or political power. Going back and forth, both temporally and geographically, between Jakarta and Paris in 1965 and 1998, "Home" is about the lives of the Indonesian exiles, their families and friends, including those left behind in Indonesia. This story is one of love, lust, and betrayal but one that also includes laughter, adventure and food.

"Night had fallen, without complaint, without pretext. Like a black net enclosing the city, ink from a monster squid spreading across Jakarta's entire landscape-the color of my uncertain future."  

So begins the novel "Home" ("Pulang") and Leila S Chudori's remarkable fictional account of the impact of the September 30 Movement of 1965. This "movement," blamed by military leaders on the Indonesian Communist Party, led to the murder of a million or more presumed Communists and the imprisonment of tens of thousands presumed leftists and sympathizers. Thousands of Indonesian citizens who were abroad at the time had their passports revoked and were left to live in exile. Thereafter, history was manipulated by the Soeharto government to portray its involvement in this atrocity in a favorable light. A whole generation of Indonesians was raised in world of forced silence, where facts were suppressed and left unspoken.  

While the tumultuous events of 1965 are the backdrop of the story, "Home" is not a novel about ideology or political power. Going back and forth, both temporally and geographically, between Jakarta and Paris in 1965 and 1998, "Home" is about the lives of the Indonesian exiles, their families and friends, including those left behind in Indonesia. This story is one of love, lust, and betrayal but one that also includes laughter, adventure and food."Night had fallen, without complaint, without pretext. Like a black net enclosing the city, ink from a monster squid spreading across Jakarta's entire landscape-the color of my uncertain future." So begins the novel "Home" ("Pulang") and Leila S Chudori's remarkable fictional account of the impact of the September 30 Movement of 1965. This "movement," blamed by military leaders on the Indonesian Communist Party, led to the murder of a million or more presumed Communists and the imprisonment of tens of thousands presumed leftists and sympathizers. Thousands of Indonesian citizens who were abroad at the time had their passports revoked and were left to live in exile. Thereafter, history was manipulated by the Soeharto government to portray its involvement in this atrocity in a favorable light. A whole generation of Indonesians was raised in world of forced silence, where facts were suppressed and left unspoken. While the tumultuous events of 1965 are the backdrop of the story, "Home" is not a novel about ideology or political power. Going back and forth, both temporally and geographically, between Jakarta and Paris in 1965 and 1998, "Home" is about the lives of the Indonesian exiles, their families and friends, including those left behind in Indonesia. This story is one of love, lust, and betrayal but one that also includes laughter, adventure and food. - See more at: http://www.asiabookroom.com/pages/books/155988/leila-s-chudori-john-h-mcglynn/home#sthash.oaVIx0F4.dpuf

Bones of the Dark Moon – Richard E. Lewis

Thursday December 7, 2017 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

During construction on an idyllic Bali seashore, workers uncover skeletons, victims of brutal mass murder. The discovery sets the village of Batu Gede astir. The life of Made "Nol" Ziro, a stalwart member of the community with a little gambling problem, is turned upside down. Could one of those skeletons be that of his schoolmaster father, who disappeared during the massacres of 1965? As Nol sets out to find the truth, his path crosses that of American anthropologist Tina Briddle, who has secrets of her own, and who is determined to give a voice to the unknown bones. She suspects that the key to their mystery lies with Reed Davis, an enigmatic retiree dwelling among the Ubud expat community and rumored to have been a CIA spy. Drawing them together is the mysterious Luhde Srikandi, who fifty years ago whispered her enchantments from the shadows of conspiracy and who begins to whisper again. What happened on that sleepy beach isn't all dusty memory. Secrets are revealed, vengeance is unleashed, and a forbidden love flares to life. Arguably the most traumatic cataclysm of Bali's rich and fascinating history, the massacres of 1965 remain mostly unknown to the island's visitors. Interweaving historical drama with contemporary Bali life, Bones of the New Moon is compulsively readable, a page-turner with unexpected twists leavened with dashes of humor, laying bare the love and hatred, the tragedy and irony, and the joy and despair of our common human predicament.

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