Today I wanted to talk about a region of the world called South Asia, which is – unsurprisingly – comprised of countries located in the south of Asia. The term usually refers to sub-Himalayan countries like Bangladesh and Nepal.
I’ve collected a list of the very few books I’ve read set in these countries, and thought I’d share them here!
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini Set in Afghanistan, this book is a bildungsroman that follows the life of an Afghan boy called Amir. The book works through contemporary issues of religion, totalitarianism and violence in the country, while weaving a movingly beautiful story. I first had to read this book as part of my English course at sixth form, and it’s a really rich and interesting book to get your teeth into. I gave it five stars!
The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul – Deborah Rodriguez Also set in Afghanistan, this book follows a mixture of Western and Afghan characters in their various walks of life. It does explore the conflict and corruption of the country, but there is also an emphasis on the beauty and adventure that thrives in that part of the world. The book focuses especially on the place of women in the Islamic society, and I found it really interesting to see it through the changing narratives. Another five star novel!
Blood Money – Chris Ryan This is the seventh in the ‘Alpha Force’ series, which I loved between the ages of 11 and 14.The premise is that a group of teenagers find themselves in various situations across the globe and have to fight for justice/safety/The Right Thing – for example in this book, the team are confronted with the illegal trade of human body parts in India. It’s an exciting read that gives a basic insight into a many-layered country. I gave it four stars.
Breakfast with the Nikolides – Rumer Godden While this book didn’t completely float my boat, I did really enjoy the insight that discovering a country through a Westerner’s eyes divulges. The story revolves around a family who have had to move to India from France, and it’s interesting to see how the different family members cope with the change in climate, culture and company. I gave it three stars.
Life of Pi – Yann Martel This is probably the best-known book in the list! The sole human survivor of a tragic shipwreck, our Indian protagonist – Pi – finds himself drifting on a life-boat in the middle of the ocean. With a tiger. While it’s not really set in India for the most part, it does offer some insights into the religious and societal diversity present. Also it’s just quite a nice story. I gave it four stars.
Battleground – Chris Ryan Next up is another Chris Ryan book: this one is part of the ‘Code Red’ series, in which British protagonist Ben gets thrown into a multitude of crazy adventures abroad. This book is set during his school exchange trip to Pakistan, where the poor lad manages to get himself tangled in a Taliban plot to kill hundreds of people. Obviously the story is heavily centred around the violence and conflict in the country, but I felt like it made the effort to portray a fairer view of the country. I gave this one four stars.
That’s all for my books set in South Asia – have you read any of these? Are there any books set in this region that you’ve enjoyed?
Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!