at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Summer Beach Reads on Southeast Asia


China Rich Girlfriend: A Novel
Kevin Kwan

Kevin Kwan, bestselling author of Crazy Rich Asians, is back with a wickedly funny new novel of social climbing, secret e-mails, art-world scandal, lovesick billionaires, and the outrageous story of what happens when Rachel Chu, engaged to marry Asia’s most eligible bachelor, discovers her birthfather. On the eve of her wedding to Nicholas Young, heir to one of the greatest fortunes in Asia, Rachel should be over the moon. She has a flawless Asscher-cut diamond from JAR, a wedding dress she loves more than anything found in the salons of Paris, and a fiancé willing to sacrifice his entire inheritance in order to marry her. But Rachel still mourns the fact that her birthfather, a man she never knew, won’t be able to walk her down the aisle. Until: a shocking revelation draws Rachel into a world of Shanghai splendor beyond anything she has ever imagined. Here we meet Carlton, a Ferrari-crashing bad boy known for Prince Harry-like antics; Colette, a celebrity girlfriend chased by fevered paparazzi; and the man Rachel has spent her entire life waiting to meet: her father. Meanwhile, Singapore’s It Girl, Astrid Leong, is shocked to discover that there is a downside to having a newly minted tech billionaire husband. A romp through Asia’s most exclusive clubs, auction houses, and estates, China Rich Girlfriend brings us into the elite circles of Mainland China, introducing a captivating cast of characters, and offering an inside glimpse at what it’s like to be gloriously, crazily, China-rich.

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In the Country: Stories
Mia Alvar

These nine globe-trotting, unforgettable stories from Mia Alvar, a remarkable new literary talent, vividly give voice to the women and men of the Filipino diaspora. Here are exiles, emigrants, and wanderers uprooting their families from the Philippines to begin new lives in the Middle East, the United States, and elsewhere—and, sometimes, turning back again.A pharmacist living in New York smuggles drugs to his ailing father in Manila, only to discover alarming truths about his family and his past. In Bahrain, a Filipina teacher drawn to a special pupil finds, to her surprise, that she is questioning her own marriage. A college student leans on her brother, a laborer in Saudi Arabia, to support her writing ambitions, without realizing that his is the life truly made for fiction. And in the title story, a journalist and a nurse face an unspeakable trauma amidst the political turmoil of the Philippines in the 1970s and ’80s.

In the Country speaks to the heart of everyone who has ever searched for a place to call home. From teachers to housemaids, from mothers to sons, Alvar’s powerful debut collection explores the universal experiences of loss, displacement, and the longing to connect across borders both real and imagined. Deeply compassionate and richly felt, In the Country marks the emergence of a formidable new writer.

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The River of Lost Footsteps
Thant Myint-U

In The River of Lost Footsteps, Thant Myint-U tells the story of modern Burma, in part through a telling of his own family’s history, in an interwoven narrative that is by turns lyrical, dramatic, and appalling. His maternal grandfather, U Thant, rose from being the schoolmaster of a small town in the Irrawaddy Delta to become the UN secretary-general in the 1960s. And on his father’s side, the author is descended from a long line of courtiers who served at Burma’s Court of Ava for nearly two centuries. Through their stories and others, he portrays Burma’s rise and decline in the modern world, from the time of Portuguese pirates and renegade Mughal princes through the decades of British colonialism, the devastation of World War II, and a sixty-year civil war that continues today and is the longest-running war anywhere in the world. The River of Lost Footsteps is a work both personal and global, a distinctive contribution that makes Burma accessible and enthralling.

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Mother’s Beloved Stories from Laos
Outhine Bounyavong (Author), Bounheng Inversin (Editor), Daniel Duffy (Editor), Peter Koret (Introduction)

Outhine Bounyavong is one of the most prominent contemporary writers in Laos. His stories are animated with Laotian virtues of simplicity, compassion, respect for age, and other village mores; they breathe with a gentleness that is fresh and distinctive. Outhine is interested in his own memories, in how to behave with compassion, and in the chain of life among men and women that reaches into the earth. Rather than writing through an ideological lens, Outhine focuses on the passions and foibles of ordinary people. Their good luck, disappointments, and plain but poignant conversations reveal the subtle textures of Lao culture. The tragedy of war and the threat of environmental degradation are themes woven into his stories.

This book presents fourteen of Outhine Bounyavong’s short stories in English translation alongside the Lao originals, marking his formal debut for an American audience. It is also the first collection of Lao short stories to be published in the English language. Peter Koret’s Introduction explores the history of modern Lao literature and considers Outhine’s writing within this broader context.

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