- Photo book
- After Dark
- By Liam Wong
A photo book by Scottish photographer and video-game designer Liam Wong explores cities at night — from London to Tokyo to Hong Kong to Rome. The photos were captured during the Covid-19 pandemic, when Wong wandered the quiet and empty streets after nightfall. It’s full of beautiful cityscapes: neon lights, shadowy corners, individuals sharing quiet moments when everyone else is asleep. Wong’s images evoke a dystopian world during the dark days of the pandemic, and the inspiration he gets from video games shines through his choices of color and composition.
- By Anthony Veasna So
This collection of short stories offers snapshots into the lives of Cambodian immigrant communities in Southern California. Many are children of refugees, navigating family life, sexual identity, and intergenerational trauma like the Cambodian genocide. Anthony Veasna So was a rising Cambodian-American literary star who died unexpectedly in 2020; Afterparties was his debut book.
- Africa 2.0: Inside a Continent’s Communications Revolution
- By Russell Southwood
There aren’t many books that illustrate how technology has evolved in Africa, and influenced everything from business to politics and communication. This book, though patchy at some points, is a very good attempt at filling that gap. Russell Southwood, a telecommunications consultant in Africa, divides this work into three sections. First, he covers the hardware and its widespread adoption, before dwelling on how phones fueled the use of mobile money and e-commerce. Finally, he assesses how it all impacted politics, culture, and society.
Buy from Manchester University Press
- Alguien Camina Sobre Tu Tumba (Someone Walks Over Your Grave)
- By Mariana Enríquez
The Argentinian author, famous for her thrilling and chill-inducing novels, has an odd yet fitting fascination with cemeteries in general and graves in particular. This Spanish-language book is a compilation of Enríquez’s writings on the 24 cemeteries she visited around the world: from the famed Montparnasse in Paris to the lesser-known yet equally intriguing Presbítero cemetery in Lima, Peru. Far from a scary read, it’s a morbid, often funny, and always fascinating observation on how grief shapes culture, traditions, and even cities.
Author profile by The Guardian
- South Asia
- Brotherless Night
- By V. V. Ganeshananthan
Brotherless Night tells the story of a young medical student who gets caught up in the grim violence of the Sri Lankan civil war. The book does an extraordinary job documenting human rights violations by all parties during the three-decade-long conflict, and the lives and hopes that were lost. Ganeshananthan’s meticulous research and powerful writing hooks the reader from the beginning to the end. This is a book about many things, but the one that stands out is the role women play in our lives — as sisters, mothers, educators, and mentors.
- Chip War
- By Chris Miller
A book for anyone who’s suddenly become aware of the monumental significance of semiconductors to our daily lives. An economic historian, Chris Miller provides an account of a decades-long battle over the microchip, arguably the world’s most critical resource, and how it is at the core of the U.S.-China geopolitical conflict. The book centers on Moore’s Law: the well-known projection that illustrates how the number of transistors in a chip can double roughly every two years. It has long been used as an indicator of the increasing growth in the capabilities of computers — and, as Miller argues, our increasing dependence on them.
- Crying in H Mart
- By Michelle Zauner
Michelle Zauner’s moving memoir makes you cry, and also very, very hungry. The book, which began as an essay in The New Yorker, weaves together memories of the author’s late mother with those of food — meals she cooked, ate, bought, longed for, and shared with her daughter. It is a beautiful, honest examination of a mother-daughter relationship, forged through ingredients from Korean cuisine that the author is reminded of whenever she visits H Mart, a U.S. supermarket chain of Asian products.
Original essay in The New Yorker
- Photo book
- Middle East
- Glad Tidings of Benevolence
- By Moises Saman
This book is photographer Moises Saman’s magnum opus on Iraq, timely published 20 years after the U.S. invasion. Glad Tidings of Benevolence brings together photographs Saman has taken in Iraq over the past two decades, and includes competing narratives of the war through image and language. More than being just a record, the book questions the role of a photographer and his subject matter in a narrative of conflict: Whose story gets told? Whose suffering is remembered? Whose faces, if any, are printed on newspapers the day after a bombing?
- By Han Song
A dark and surreal narrative about one man with a mysterious illness, trying to navigate a dystopian hospital system. Author Han Song is one of China’s most lauded science fiction writers. He works as a journalist at the state-run Xinhua News Agency by day, and pens sci-fi — often scathing critiques of Chinese society — by night. Originally published in Chinese in 2016, the book is now available in English. Despite being written before the pandemic, Hospital reads as eerily resonant of present times, given how deeply entwined our lives have become with medical care and hospital systems.
Review by Asian Review of Books
- South Asia
- By Arundhati Bhattacharya
Arundhati Bhattacharya was the first woman to lead the State Bank of India, the country’s largest government-owned bank. In her book, she provides glimpses of her personal and professional life as a regular, middle-class woman who beat the odds and reached the leadership position at one of the largest banks in the world. Besides presenting the banking profession in a new light, her story is a great example of how government systems can be changed to make way for the new world, especially one that is more inclusive of the female workforce.
Review by The Hindu Business Line
- South Asia
- Jungle Nama
- By Amitav Ghosh
Amitav Ghosh is an Indian author who has won the Jnanpith award, the country’s highest literary honor. Jungle Nama is his second book set in the Sundarbans forest, a mangrove area where the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna rivers meet in the Bay of Bengal. The novel recreates a folk tale about Bon Bibi — the guardian of the forest — and a formidable man-eating tiger. It’s short, wonderful, and lyrical, written in verse for that exact purpose. The book leaves the reader with food for thought about the state of our forests and the need for their preservation.
- South Asia
- Midnight’s Machines: A Political History of Technology in India
- By Arun Mohan Sukumar
The book traces the long and often tortuous political history India has had with technology. Arun Mohan Sukumar writes about how the country’s early leaders perceived and considered technology, how some reconciled their faith with it, and how others have grappled with the dilemma of using tech as a political instrument. For those who want to understand the dichotomy of an almost Luddite level of skepticism with technology in some sectors of India and its uncritical embrace in others, this book is a must-read.
- On Lighthouses
- By Jazmina Barrera
Ostensibly about the cultural history of lighthouses, Jazmina Barrera’s book is more about her personal obsession with these unique structures. Barrera’s identity as Mexican plays into her travels and personal anecdotes, as well as into the broader global history of lighthouses. Partly a travelogue, partly an autobiography, the book takes the reader into the mysterious world of lighthouses, and of those who worked in them, trusted them, or have — like the author — found them fascinating.
- Palo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism, and the World
- By Malcolm Harris
A Marxist’s history of California, Malcolm Harris’ book has been one of the most anticipated and talked-about books in U.S. tech media so far this year. It’s full of fun tidbits about the region’s history — like the fact that Bank of America was founded in San Francisco as the “Bank of Italy” — but the bigger ambition of the book shows how colonial expansion shaped the tech industry. It offers a different, quite-overlooked perspective on the consequences Silicon Valley’s power has had, both inside and outside the U.S.
- Latin America
- By Fernanda Melchor
What happens when youth, boredom, social inequality, and gender violence combine in the confined space of a luxury condo? Fernanda Melchor is one of Mexico’s rising young novelists, capturing through fiction the effects violence has on younger generations from different socioeconomic backgrounds. She writes compelling and crude descriptions of distinct Mexican realities — all crippled by the drug cartels, the government’s corruption, and the general sense of despair that years of a slow war have produced in the country.
- The Pleasure of Thinking
- By Wang Xiaobo
The book compiles the newly translated essays of Wang Xiaobo, one of the most influential and overlooked contemporary Chinese intellectuals. Although Wang passed away from cancer in 1997, his way of thinking — wry, humorous, fiercely independent, undogmatic — has shaped an entire generation of university students and grassroots intellectuals in China. One of the essays in the collection, “The Silent Majority,” sheds some light on why and how people choose to remain silent in repressive societies, and why others decide to speak out.
Author profile by Los Angeles Review of Books
Buy from Penguin Random House (English translation available in July)
- South Asia
- The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida
- By Shehan Karunatilaka
Set in Sri Lanka during the civil war of the 1980s, this ghost story follows a dead war photographer as he moves between real life and the afterlife, trying to uncover the mystery of his own death. Shehan Karunatilaka is a Sri Lankan who has lived through his country’s conflict. While his novel offers an insight into the nation’s dark past, Karunatilaka’s genre-defying work blends humor and supernatural satire with a thoughtful perspective on contemporary politics in the region. The novel won the 2022 Booker Prize.
Author profile by The Guardian
- Amit Chaudhuri
This novel by the multifaceted Amit Chaudhuri — poet, essayist, singer, and music composer — revolves around a young, unnamed Indian man living in Berlin, and the experiences of alienation and intimacy he undergoes during that stay. The people he meets there, both Indian and Western, make him question his identity and the ways in which he engages with the local culture. It’s beautifully written — spare yet emotionally raw, full of fascinating details of place and time and personal impression.
Review by The Wall Street Journal
Buy from New York Review Books
- Latin America
- Una Cita Con La Lady (A Date With That Lady)
- By Mateo García Elizondo
This novel offers a terrifying look into a man’s failure to overdose in a small town that wants him gone. This is what an old hamlet in the middle of nowhere looks like in 21st century Mexico: no sombreros or mariachis, just a lot of beer and constant background music, as the voices of lost and dead loved ones haunt the protagonist’s recurring trips on an ever-waning supply of the titular drug, heroin (The Lady). This is García Elizondo’s debut novel.
Author profile in The Guardian
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