What I'm Looking For
Actively looking for: literary, upmarket, book club, autobiographical fiction, political perspectives, social critiques, postcolonial literature, magical realism, nature writing, philosophical themes, classical retellings, character-driven stories, topical issues, narrative memoir, global voices, diaspora.
I am looking for global voices in literary, upmarket and book club fiction that tell compelling stories reflective of the human experience, as well as autobiographical fiction and narrative non-fiction.
On the literary and upmarket end, I am drawn to powerful ideas that say something about our world through a social, political, philosophical or cultural lens. I am particularly looking for stories with a postcolonial emphasis, and stories where traditionally marginalised characters are brought centre stage and possess depth, complexity and heart as in Natasha Brown’s Assembly, Min Jin Lee’s Free Food for Millionaires or Han Kang’s The Vegetarian. I am a fan of novels like The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón and The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak with hints of magical realism that shine a light on deeper aspects of human nature. I also enjoy inventive retellings such as Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie. Above all, I am drawn to writing that is precise and visceral, as though I can sit inside the author’s world and feel close to the characters themselves. In this regard, authors such as Ruth Ozeki, Mohsin Hamid, and Donna Tartt inspire me.
In book club fiction, I love a character-driven story with a satisfying, distinctive plot that explores topical issues. I adored Sorrow & Bliss by Meg Mason for its acerbic humour and its examination of mental health, Piglet by Lottie Hazel for its unpacking of a doomed relationship through the lens of food, If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha for its unpacking of contemporary South Korean beauty standards and social pressures, and Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid, the whip-smart debut scrutinising the messy dynamics of race and class within the modern American liberal elite.
I admire autobiographical fiction in the vein of Rachel Cusk’s Outline, with its sharp prose and quiet observations of regret, family dysfunction and personal desire, and would love to find an intimate memoir like Once Upon A Time in the East by Xiaolu Guo or Inferno by Catherine Cho.
Other favourite books that I have not mentioned
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
A Little Life by Hanya Yanigihara
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki
Circe by Madeline Miller
A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo
Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez
Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner