Easily one of the best books of 2012, Katherine Boo's expose of life in the slum of Annawadi (sandwiched between Mumbai's main airport and the 5-star Hyatt Hotel), will without a doubt leave you enraged, hopeful and never anything less than fully engaged and fascinated by this harrowing portrait of life among India's underclass. Written in a flowing narrative style that at time jars with the true life subjects Boo followed over the course of 9 months living by the sewerage lake at the centre of the slum, this remarkable book begs to be red in one wondrous, reflective sitting.
The best work on the Mongols since its first edition publication in 1986, this revised 2nd edition of David Morgans essential work is the essential starting point to learning about histories greatest land empire and dispelling the myths of the Nomadic Mongols as barbarians. A student of Middle East studies luminaries such as Anne Lambton and Bernard Lewis, Morgan guides us through the empire, from its formation on the steppes of Central Asia to its dominance, in the forms of the Golden Horde, Ilkhanate and Yuan Dynasty (in Russia, the Middle East and China respectively), of the majority of Eurasia. A must-read.
Shortlisted as one of the best of 40 years of Booker prize-winners, J. G. Farrell's modern classic is the blackly humorous account of an isolated Indian colonial town under siege during the mutiny of 1857. As conditions deteriorate, the British colonials struggle to keep their stiff upper lip absolutely stiff and the locals watch on with palpable glee.
Alice Albinia's remarkable voyage along 2,000 miles of the Indus River. A combination of traveller's tales and fascinating history, she traces the river from Karachi, through Pakistan, into India and then up into Tibet. Highly recommended.
Eight carefully woven tales set in the Punjab, which tell the story of the Harouni family and their cooks, drivers, gardeners and servants. These hypnotic stories of love, longing and loss rise up and sink back into a background of modern, chaotic, turbulent Pakistan.
Novelist, environmentalist and founder of the Paris Review, Peter Matthiessen travels to study the wild blue sheep of the Himalayas. Matthiessen is also hoping to catch a glimpse of the rarely seen snow leopard and, as a Zen Buddhist, to make a spiritual journey of self-discovery. He will find one perhaps as elusive as the other. Winner of the National Book Award, this is a wonderful book of mysticism, magic and mountaineering.
This epic, colourful narrative encompasses 100 years of history from the British invasion of Mandalay in 1885 until the present day. Through the intimate stories of 3 different families, across 3 different generations, Amitav Ghosh's intoxicating story wonderfully evokes the sights and smells of both old and modern Burma.
Written by an American journalist who spent over 15 years living in Vietnam, this is the definitive single volume history of Vietnam. Gaining access to secret documents, conducting hundreds of interviews, Karnow has written a brilliant history for which he won the Pulitzer Prize.
Published in typically beautiful fashion by Eland, Lewis describes his travels through Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in the late 1940s. He speaks to French colonists, slaves, emperors and peasants on the eve of massive change and widespread devastation to the land, its architecture and its people. Fascinating, insightful and deeply poignant. Probably our favourite of Lewis' books.
The creme de la creme of guides, beautifully designed by local craftsmen, printed on hand made paper and placed inside a silk bag. Inside, hand-drawn illustrations sit beside the best recommendations from Bangalore locals.
Beautiful art work and interesting, fresh writing - this is a joy to read and a must for anyone keen to read new work. By collecting together the work of Kamila Shamsie, Mohammed Hanif and Daniyal Mueenuddin, among others, Granta has also succeeded in capturing a momentary snapshot of the country on the brink of a cultural explosion.
A bag of letters lost in a train crash nineteen years earlier mysteriously reappears and brings to light forgotten secrets. Combines a description of provincial life while alluding to the political corruption, fundamental religious control and violence in historical as well as contemporary Pakistan.
A fascinating look at one of the most arresting and unique features of Pakistani culture, this book examines the art of truck decoration. It has often been described as 'art on wheels' and this book is perfect for anyone who has travelled to Pakistan, or who is interested in art as a popular cultural phenomenon. Exhaustively researched, and highly recommended.
Still the best-selling English novel set in Sri Lanka, this tragic and deeply sympathetic story was written after Leonard Woolf spent seven years serving as a District Commissioner in Sri Lanka. Not only a damning indictment of colonialism based on first-hand experience, but a lyrical, sensory evocation of the country.
A sensual novel set in Colombo in the 1970s that reflects the social and political upheaval of the time. Eleven year old Triton is sent to be a cook and house boy to an eminent marine biologist but, just as in the city outside their windows, the peace and contentment of the household begins to disintegrate. Shortlisted for the Booker prize.
It is the Cultural Revolution and two boys from intellectual families are sent to be 're-educated' by the State. They are kept in good spirits by their good-natured friendship, the appearance of a pretty, local seamstress and the discovery of a suitcase full of highly subversive Western, nineteenth century literature. A delightful and clever novel about the awakening of passion, set against a fascinating historical backdrop.
Time Out guides are consistently reliable with great recommendations for restaurants, bars and activities and excellent maps. For the mid-range traveller this is the perfect guide to Beijing although hotel listings in this example could be a little more detailed.