Asia Bookroom's Book Group

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.

 

Two Afternoons in the Kabul Stadium - Tim Bonyhady

Thursday December 1, 2022 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

"An exciting social history of Afghanistan told through art.

From the complete coverage of chadaris to mini-skirts, and back again. From ancient carpet designs to woven depictions of tanks and Kalashnikovs. From photographs of unveiled women to an image of horror-the execution of a kneeling woman known as Zarmeena, videoed covertly by one of the few watching women. This remarkable book provides a history of Afghanistan through the visual.


The Kabul Stadium looms large because it was there, one afternoon in August 1959, that women first appeared in western dress at a celebration of Afghanistan's independence-a turning point, not only for women in Afghanistan's cities but also for the country itself, symbolising its embrace of the modern. It was also there, one afternoon in November 1999, that the Taliban killed Zarmeena.

Two Afternoons in the Kabul Stadium offers both a new way of seeing Afghanistan and a new way of understanding it." (Publisher's description).

Meshi: A Personal History of Japanese Food - Katherine Tamiko Arguile

Thursday January 19, 2023 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

"For Katherine Tamiko Arguile, the Japanese food her mother cooked was a portal to a part of her that sometimes felt lost in the past. In Japan, food is never just food: it expresses a complex and fascinating history, and is tied to tradition and spirituality intrinsic to Japanese culture.

Exploring the meals of her childhood through Japan's twenty-four sekki (seasons), Katherine untangles the threads of meaning, memory and ritual woven through every glistening bowl of rice, every tender slice of sashimi and each steaming cup of green tea.

With rich, visceral prose, vivid insight and searing emotional honesty, Meshi ('rice' or 'meal') reveals the culture and spirit of one of the world's most beloved cuisines." (Publisher's description).

The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida - Shehan Karunatilaka

Thursday February 23, 2023 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

"Colombo, 1990. Maali Almeida, war photographer, gambler and closet queen, has woken up dead in what seems like a celestial visa office. His dismembered body is sinking in the serene Beira Lake and he has no idea who killed him. At a time where scores are settled by death squads, suicide bombers and hired goons, the list of suspects is depressingly long, as the ghouls and ghosts with grudges who cluster round can attest.

But even in the afterlife, time is running out for Maali. He has seven moons to try and contact the man and woman he loves most and lead them to a hidden cache of photos that will rock Sri Lanka." (Publisher's description).

A New Sun Rises Over the Old Land - Suon Sorin

Thursday April 6, 2023 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

"A New Sun Rises Over the Old Land traces the story of Sam, a young man who leaves the countryside for the capital after the death of his parents. Once there he is exposed to the hardships and injustice of the city's capitalist society. All Sam wants to do is earn an honest wage for an honest day's work, but he is constantly thwarted by those with money: his landlord, the woman from whom he rents his cyclo, factory bosses and politicians.

The city takes its toll on Sam and his wife, Soy, despite the kindness and generosity offered by their friends who are also only barely managing to scrape by. Sam's humanity is denied him at every turn leading to the devastation of his small family and his surrender to temptation. As the country develops and Sam's fortunes change, he realises that while the life of a farmer is far from easy, it is one that has the potential to bring fulfilment and happiness.

First published in 1961, eight years after Cambodia gained independence from French colonial rule, A New Sun Rises Over the Old Land by Suon Sorin is an iconic work of modern Khmer literature. The novel - a singularly illuminating historical document of the new nation - offers a fresh view into a period of profound transformation in Cambodia and a region that was coming to know itself and to be known as Southeast Asia."(Publisher's description).

'Cherry' Ingram: The Englishman Who Saved Japan's Blossoms - Naoko Abe

Thursday May 18, 2023 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

"Collingwood Ingram, born in 1880, became known as 'Cherry' for his defining obsession. As a young man, he travelled to Japan and learned of the astonishing displays of cherry blossoms, or sakura.

On a return visit in 1926, Ingram witnessed frightening changes to the country's cherry population. A cloned variety was sweeping the landscape and being used as a symbol for Japan's expansionist ambitions. Determined to protect the diversity of the trees, Ingram began sending the rare varieties from his own garden in England back to Japan with the help of a network of 'cherry guardians'.

This is an eloquent portrait of an extraordinary man whose legacy we enjoy every spring, and his unsung place in botanic history." (Publisher's description).

Happy Stories, Mostly - Norman Erikson Pasaribu

Thursday June 29, 2023 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

"Happy Stories, Mostly is a playful, charged and tender collection of twelve stories - a blend of speculative fiction and dark absurdism, often drawing on Norman Erikson Pasaribu's Batak and Christian cultures. Pasaribu's stories ask what it means to be almost happy - almost to find joy, almost to be accepted, but never quite grasp one's desire. Joy and contentment shimmer on the horizon, just out of reach.

In one story, an employee is introduced to their new workplace - a department of Heaven devoted to archiving unanswered prayers. In another, a woman on holiday in Vietnam attempts to find solace following the suicide of her son. In a third, a young man befriends a university classmate obsessed with verifying the existence of a mythical hundred-foot-tall man.

Throughout the collection, queerness is a fact of life from which tragicomic events spring, amidst the forces that keep people from those whom they yearn for most, and the miraculous, melancholy ability to survive such loneliness. In the words of one of the stories' narrators, 'I work in the dark. Like mushrooms. I don't need light to thrive.'" (Publisher's description).

A Passage North - Anuk Arudpragasam

Thursday November 2, 2023 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

"It begins with a message: a telephone call informing Krishan that his grandmother's former care-giver, Rani, has died in unexpected circumstances, at the bottom of a well in her village in the north, her neck broken by the fall. The news arrives on the heels of an email from Anjum, an activist he fell in love with four years earlier while living in Delhi, bringing with it the stirring of distant memories and desires.

As Krishan makes the long journey by train from Colombo into the war-torn Northern Province for the funeral, so begins a passage into the soul of an island devastated by violence. Written with precision and grace, A Passage North is a poignant memorial for the missing and the dead, and a luminous meditation on time, consciousness, and the lasting imprint of the connections we make with others." (Publisher's description).

Time for a Tiger - Anthony Burgess

Thursday December 7, 2023 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

The first book in the Malayan Trilogy.

"Anthony Burgess was an officer in the Colonial Service. In The Malayan Trilogy - Time for a Tiger, The Enemy in the Blanket and Beds in the East - he satirises the dog days of colonialism.

Victor Crabbe is a well meaning, ineffectual English man in the tropics, keen to teach the Malays what the West can do for them. Through Crabbe's rise and fall and a series of wonderfully colourful characters, Burgess lays bare racial and social prejudices of post-war Malaya during the upheaval of Independence." (Publisher's description).

We have read well over 150 books since the book group began.