There are a wealth of books based in the region to read, offering both a factual and fictitious look at life in Southeast Asia.
To Cook A Spider By Mark Bibby Jackson
There’s not much in Cambodia that’s conventional, so it’s only fitting that To Cook a Spider sits in the unconventional love story bracket. When recently retired entrepreneur Don Oake accepts a mysterious Facebook invitation from long-lost school friend, George Defaux, to visit him and his family at their hotel in Battambang, the bland Brit is expecting some relaxing time out. However, what starts off as a light tale soon takes a sinister twist as the seedy underbelly of Cambodia infiltrates. Spanning the shores of both Cambodia and the Thai capital of Bangkok, To Cook a Spider is packed full of all the elements that make a riveting read, and takes readers on a journey of deceit, betrayal, forbidden love, drugs, prostitution, blackmail and murder – all laced with a delicate seasoning of humour.
Yangon Echoes: Inside Myanmar’s Heritage Homes By Virginia Henderson and Tim Webster
Many of Yangon’s antique properties – and the stories of their inhabitants – are being lost in the rush to modernise. Virginia Henderson and Tim Webster visit these buildings to gather untold tales. Their research uncovers people’s thoughts about living through the country’s emergence from decades of stagnation to a rapidly developing country. In the new Yangon, many residents have to make tough decisions. To stay or to go? To rebuild or to maintain? An unprecedented work of oral history, Yangon Echoes is a rich anthology of fascinating life stories exploring notions and values of heritage and home in the cosmopolitan city formerly known as Rangoon, Burma.
Mrenh Gongveal: Chasing the Elves of the Khmer By Keith Kelly
Mrenh Gongveal: Chasing the Elves of the Khmer is a photo essay that delves into a common, but lesser understood, belief of the Cambodians. While learning about the culture and customs of Cambodia, Keith Kelly’s adopted home of 10 years, he was especially fascinated by its folklore. One particular type of shrine dedicated to the Mrenh Gongveal, Elves of the Khmer, caught his imagination. As a personal project, he started documenting the more interesting “houses” he came across during his travels. While talking to people, most could give little explanation for the houses other than they “brought luck”. Wanting to know more led the author on a five-year journey collecting photos and information, which presented in this book.
The Sympathizer By Viet Thanh Nguyen
The Sympathizer is set in April 1975 in a chaotic Saigon. At his villa, a general in the South Vietnamese army and his trusted comrades are drawing up a list of those who will be given safe passage to America aboard the final flights out of the country. As they start a new life in Los Angeles, little do the compatriots know that one of them, the Captain, is secretly reporting back to the Viet Cong. The Sympathizer follows the story of this captain: a man brought up by an absent French father and a poor Vietnamese mother, who went to university in America but returned to Vietnam to fight for the Communist cause. This gripping spy novel delves inside the mind of this double agent, a man whose ideals necessitate his betrayal of the people closest to him.
Ghost Money By Andrew Nette
Australian writer Andrew Nette’s debut novel is set in Cambodia. It’s 1996, and the long-running Khmer Rouge insurgency is fragmenting, and competing factions of the coalition government are scrambling to gain the upper hand. Missing in the chaos is businessman Charles Avery. Hired to find him is Vietnamese Australian ex-cop Max Quinlan. But Avery has made dangerous enemies, and Quinlan is not the only one looking. Teaming up with local journalist Heng Sarin, Quinlan’s search takes him from the freewheeling capital Phnom Penh to the battle-scarred western borderlands. As the political temperature soars, he is drawn into a mystery that plunges him into the heart of Cambodia’s bloody past.