Southeast Asian Historical Fiction
Uyen Nicole Duong’s Daughters of the River Huong takes listeners on a century-long journey into the extraordinary history of Vietnam, all seen through the eyes of Simone, a precocious and passionate teenager who reveals the lives of her Vietnamese ancestors. Beginning in the Violet City of Hue, these stories of a Vietnamese royal concubine and her descendants span four generations, portraying Vietnam’s struggle for independence. Starting with Huyen Phi, the Mystique Concubine from the extinct Kingdom of Champa, to her daughters, Madame Cinnamon and Ginseng, and finally to Simone’s own mother, Duong gives listeners a compelling, historic, and sometimes voyeuristic view into a world few have experienced. From the monarchy to French colonialism, from American intervention to the fall of Saigon and Communist rule, the lives of these women are profoundly changed by history. The writing is poetic, the stories gripping, and whether you are a lover of romance, history, or the human condition, this novel delivers.
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A Woman of Angkor
by John Burgess
Published by: Antique Collectors Club Ltd, 2013
“Pure and beautiful, she glows like the moon behind clouds.” The time is the 12th Century, the place Cambodia, birthplace of the lost Angkor civilisation. In a village behind a towering stone temple lives a young woman named Sray, whom neighbors liken to the heroine of a Hindu epic. Hiding a dangerous secret, she is content with quiet obscurity, but one rainy season afternoon is called to a life of prominence in the royal court. There her faith and loyalties are tested by attentions from the great king Suryavarman II. Struggling to keep her devotion is her husband Nol, palace confidante and master of the silk parasols that were symbols of the monarch’s rank. This lovingly crafted first novel by former Washington Post correspondent John Burgess revives the rites and rhythms of the ancient culture that built the temples of Angkor, then abandoned them to the jungle. In telling her tale, Sray takes the reader to a hilltop monastery, a concubine pavilion and across the seas to the throne room of imperial China. She witnesses the construction of the largest of the temples, Angkor Wat, and offers an explanation for its greatest mystery–why it broke with centuries of tradition to face west instead of east.
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The Phaulkon Legacy
by Walter J. Strach III
Published by: iUniverse, 2013
In the seventeenth century, a determined and driven young Greek made his way by ship to Southeast Asia in search of wealth and fame. His name was Constantine Phaulkon. He arrived in Siam, learned the language, and soon became a dear friend to King Narai. Befriending the king was the first step to securing his legacy, but he had much more in mind. Phaulkon was appointed to the position of foreign minister of trade. He lured the French to join his life of luxury in Siam, and he soon secured several Europeans in positions of power. With the help of King Narai he has the Society of Jesuits believing Siam is about to become a Jesuit state. Only time will tell how history will view his actions. His story is told through the eyes of twentieth-first-century historian Dylan Montgomery, who specializes in Southeast Asia. His friend Theo is recovering from life’s bumpy road when they decide to investigate Phaulkon. How did a single man recreate the political fiber of a nation, and what became of his great wealth after his death? Dylan and Theo set out together to solve one of modern history’s great mysteries: the truth about Constantine Phaulkon.
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This Earth of Mankind (Buru Quartet)
by Pramoedya Ananta Toer
Published by Penguin Books, 1996
Minke is a young Javanese student of great intelligence, sensitivity and ambition. Living equally among the colonists and colonized of late nineteenth-century Java, he battles against the confines of colonial strictures. The son of a noble Javanese, he moves easily among the Dutch and their ideas and language but is prevented from enjoying their rights. He also falls desperately in love with the beautiful Indo-European Annelies, and it is through her and her extraordinary family that Minke finds the strength to embrace his world – the world of Indonesia – and all its beauty and possibility, brutality and anger. This remarkable tale, the first in the Buru Quartet, was originally recited orally by Indonesian political prisoner Pramoedya Ananta Toer to his fellow cellmates in daily installments.
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