A Million Shades of Gray by Cynthia Kadohata

It’s 1975, and Y’Tin Eban, a thirteen year old Rhade boy living in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam, is the youngest elephant keeper ever in his village. He plans someday to open the first elephant-training school in Vietnam. He has promised his elephant, Lady, that he will care for her all her life and mash up bananas for her when she’s old and has lost her teeth. Y’Tin has lots of ideas, lots of plans.

But when the North Vietnamese soldiers come to Y’Tin’s village, everything changes. The villagers run to the jungle. Some don’t make it. The North Vietnamese soldiers capture Y’Tin and some others; they burn the long houses in the village. Lady and the other two elephants that belong to Y’Tin’s village go off into the jungle, too. Everything is chaotic, and perhaps as the village shaman said, the story of the Rhade people is coming to an end. At least it’s obvious that the Americans who left in 1973 will not be coming back to keep their promises to protect their allies, the Rhade.

The story of Y’Tin reminded me of Mitali Perkins’s Bamboo People, also published in 2010. Bamboo People takes place in Burma, not Vietnam, and its protagonist, Tu Reh, is member of the Karen tribe who is living in a Thai refugee camp because of the government vendetta against his people. However, both books take place in Southeast Asia, and in both stories boys must confront the realities of war and death and enemy soldiers who are determined to destroy their families and friends. Both Tu Reh and Y’Tin must decide whether to harbor bitterness and hatred or to try to forgive. Each boy must also determine what his place will be in this war that is his world, unchosen but also unavoidable.

I actually liked Bamboo People better; it seemed that the thoughts and decisions of Tu Reh and his friend/enemy Chiko were a little less foreign to me. Y’Tin’s elephant-love is way beyond my experience, and his worries about whether the spirits have cursed his village or not are strange and hard to identify with. Still, both books give insight into the difficult decisions associated with the ongoing conflicts in Southeast Asia, and both books vividly portray what it can be like for a boy to grow up and become a man in a war zone.

I would place A Million Shades of Gray in the Young Adult fiction section because of the stark and unnerving violence (massacre) that is a necessary part of the story, but the book has been nominated for a 2010 Cybils Award in the Middle Grade Fiction category.

BBAW Interview Swap

Swapna Krishna of S. Krishna’s Books is a 20-something reader and book blogger from Washington, D.C. Since she’s about the age of my Eldest Daughter, it was a blast to swap interviews with her for Book Blogger Appreciation Week and get some reading recommendations from the younger generation.

We don’t know each other at all, but I am indebted to you for several good reading suggestions including Best Intentions by Emily Listfield and Eat, Drink and Be from Mississippi by Nanci Kincaid. I see that you also enjoyed The Help by Kathryn Stockett. That brief list makes me think we share a fondness for literature set in the South. Is that so, and if so, can you name other favorite pieces of Southern literature?

Yes!! I do very much enjoy literature set in the South. One of my favorite authors, not just of Southern fiction but generally, is Karen White. She specializes in Southern fiction – I love The House on Tradd Street, The Memory of Water, and The Lost Hours, just to name a few. I also loved Beth Hoffman’s Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, a book I know made its way around the blogosphere.

How did you get started as a reader? As a book blogger?

I’ve been a reader all my life – I started reading at the tender age of 3, thanks to my older sister who taught me to read! I started as a book blogger over 2 years ago. I had gotten to a point where I would buy books, bring them home, and realize I’d already read them but didn’t remember the titles because I didn’t keep track of what I was reading. I tried a paper journal, but I filled it up so quickly that it seemed silly. I’d already been reading book blogs by then, so I thought I’d start one to review books, but also just to keep a record of what I’d read!

If you could vacation in a book world, where would you go to get away from it all? What book would you like to enter into and interact with the characters?

Oooh, lovely question! This is cliche, but probably Harry Potter. I loved how vivid of a world J.K. Rowling created. Those books are still my escape when I need to get away from life for awhile. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read them.

I read at your website that you are a member of the National Book Critics Circle. What is that, and why did you join?

The NBCC is a association of book reviewers, mostly print reviewers. I joined when I started working with The Book Studio, a book website that features video interviews with authors. I haven’t really done much with it, but it’s nice to have!

I also noticed your South Asian Review Database and your South Asian Author Challenge, a different kind of “Southern literature.”What are those all about?

That’s so true, I didn’t think of it that way, but it is a different type of Southern literature, ha! South Asia consists of countries around the Indian subcontinent – India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, etc. My heritage is South Asian, so I’ve always been very interested in literature from the region. In mid-2009, I realized there wasn’t a huge presence of South Asian literature within the blogosphere, and the South Asian Challenge was an effort to rectify that. The South Asian Review Database is a place where anyone (challenge participant or not) can come to link up their reviews of books by South Asian authors. It’s all my effort to promote the literature of the region, I only wish I could do more!

What are your favorite books and/or authors from South Asia?

Well, I’ll have to include the cliche answers, Salman Rushdie and Jhumpa Lahiri. Rushdie got me interested in South Asian literature when I read The Satanic Verses in high school (though, knowing what I know now, there’s no way I could have fully understood it and I must go back and read it sometime). Recently, I’ve become a cheerleader for Thrity Umrigar. All of her books are good, but The Weight of Heaven just blew me away. Additionally, Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s The Secret Daughter was just amazing. I also love Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (she is an incredibly prolific author, but I’ve only read 2 of her books) and Indu Sundaresan’s historical fiction.

What book or books inspire you?

Hmmm, this is a tough one. Books with beautiful writing usually inspire me, hence why I am such a fan of Salman Rushdie. Fyodor Dostoevsky, W. Somerset Maugham – these are writers I love simply because their prose speaks to me. It really stirs something within me.

What do you like to do when you’re not reading?

When I’m not reading, I’m usually spending time with my husband. He works a lot, so when he’s not working, we’re usually together. We love watching TV, and to a lesser extent, movies. I’ve gotten him into Indian movies (he isn’t Indian), so we’ve been watching more of those lately! We love to eat good food and we travel A LOT (a little too much lately, if you ask me!) I love spending time with my friends, though many aren’t local, so I do spend too much time on the phone, and it’s why I travel so much. I also just love to experience the area I live in, Washington DC.

You’re sort of a veteran book blogger. What advice do you have for those who are new to book blogging?

Funny, I don’t think of myself as a veteran! I guess my advice to those who are new to book blogging would be to READ. I know it sounds silly, but seriously. Read anything and everything. Consistent posts are crucial if you’re trying to build an audience. Additionally, I know it’s tempting to start clamoring for review copies the second you start a blog, but resist that temptation and wait for awhile! Review your own books or library books – build up a healthy review library before you start asking publishers for books.

Thanks, Swapna. I really did enjoy getting to know you and your blog, and I’m planning to read some more South Asian fiction soon. You’ve inspired me!

And here Swapna interviews me. You know, you could just be-bop back and forth all day: Swapna to Semicolon, Semicolon to Swapna, S. Krishna’s Books to Semicolon’s reviews, etc. Have a great day.

Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins

I was once a pacifist.

When I was in high school I seriously considered becoming a Quaker or Mennonite because I read that those Christian denominations have a history and tradition of pacifism. One small glitch was that there weren’t too many Quakers or Mennonites in San Angelo (West Texas) to encourage me in my (pacifist) pilgrimage.

When I became an adult, I put away childish things, and yes, I realize how patronizing that statement sounds. I know that Christian pacifism, practiced as a life decision and a way of life, would be incredibly challenging and difficult. And war is certainly not the final answer to much of anything. But in this world I believe that self-defense and even violence are sometimes necessary evils.

All that introduction is to say that Mitali Perkins’ new book, Bamboo People, made me think again about these issues, and I love books that make me think. Bamboo People is set in modern-day Burma where the Burmese government is carrying on a vendetta against the tribal peoples of southern Burma, specifically in this novel, the Karen people, or Karenni. (Actually, according to Wikipedia, it’s a little complicated. The Karenni are a subgroup of the Karen or maybe a distinct but related group.)

In 2004, the BBC, citing aid agencies, estimates that up to 200,000 Karen have been driven from their homes during decades of war, with 160,000 more refugees from Burma, mostly Karen, living in refugee camps on the Thai side of the border. Reports as recently as February, 2010, state that the Burmese army continues to burn Karen villages, displacing thousands of people.
Many, including some Karen, accuse the military government of Burma of ethnic cleansing. The U.S. State Department has also cited the Burmese government for suppression of religious freedom. This is a source of particular trouble to the Karen, as between thirty and forty percent of them are Christians and thus, among the Burmese, a religious minority. ~Wikipedia

Chiko is a Burmese city boy, educated by his doctor father who is now in prison for using his medical skills to help a leader of the resistance movement. Chiko feels as if he is in prison, too, since he cannot read English books in public or even leave the house for fear of being drafted into the military or imprisoned for some imagined or real infraction of the law.

Tu Reh lives in a Karenni refugee camp just across the Thai border from his ancestral home. The Burmese soldiers burned his village, and now Tu Reh longs for an opportunity to take revenge.

When these two young men meet, Chiko, an unwilling draftee into the Burmese army, and Tu Reh, accompanying his father on a mission of mercy, their decisions will mean life or death, possibly for many people. Is it possible to defend the helpless and also show mercy to one’s enemies? Although it’s not over-emphasized in the book, Tu Reh’s family are obviously Christians, and a lot of the tension in the story has to do with the application of Christian concepts of justice, mercy, hospitality, and healing in a difficult and complex situation. If not pacifism or revenge, then what? How do we balance and make the right decisions?

The key scene in the novel is at the end of chapter three. Tu Reh has become responsible for a wounded Burmese soldier, Chiko. Tu Reh’s father tells him, “I won’t command you, my son. A Karenni man must decide for himself. Leave him for the animals. End his life now. Or carry him to the healer. It’s your choice.” Then a little later in chapter four, Tu Reh’s father tells him, “One decision leads to another, my son. God will show you the way.”

Profound, good stuff.

You can read more about the Christian (mostly Baptist) history and the persecution of the Karen people in this 2004 article from Christianity Today.

And here is the most recent news article I found about the conflict between the Burmese government and the Karenni. The news is not good.

And you can read more about Karenni refugee resettlement in the U.S. and how you can help here.

Escaping the Tiger by Laura Manivong

Ms. Manivong says that this fictional account of a Laotian family trapped in a refugee camp in Thailand after escaping from the Communist Pathet Lao regime in their native country is based on the true story of her husband and his family.

“My husband, Troy Anousone Manivong, spent eight months in Na Pho refugee camp in 1988, when he was eighteen years old. While Vonlai is a fictional character, many of his experiences are a reflection of stories my husband shared with me over the years. But their experiences also differ in far greater ways.”

Escaping the Tiger is about Vonlai, 12 years old at the beginning of the book, his sister Dalah, and his Meh (Mom) and Pah (Dad). As the story opens Vonlai and his family do manage to escape from Laos, but they find much more hardship and suffering to face in a refugee camp in Thailand, Na Pho. In fact the camp is in some ways worse than life Communist Laos, so the book is about the family’s struggle to hold on to hope of a better life. The wait for an interview and papers and approval to emigrate to France or to the United States is interminable and tedious and sometimes dangerous. SOme of the Thai people want the Laotians to disappear or return to Laos. And Vonlai and his family face the constant fear that the world has forgotten about them and that it will never be their turn to find a new life in a free country.

Manivong’s book is not long, only 210 pages, and the protagonist is a boy when the story begins, although he grows to be a young man of sixteen before the book’s end. Perhaps those two aspects of the book as well as the publisher’s imprint, HarperCollins Childrens Books, explain why the book was classified in the juvenile section of my library. I thought it was wonderful book, evoking my sympathy and desire to do something to help, but it’s definitely more than I would want my eleven year old to read. Vonlai’s sister must face the violence of a lecherous Thai camp guard, and although the scene is not graphic or explicit, the threat of rape is definitely obvious —and of course, very sad and probably true-to-life. I would give this one to young adults, especially those who already know the adversity that life can bring or those who need to know how blessed they are in comparison to many young people in the world.

More fiction set in Laos:
Little Cricket by Jackie Brown. Another story of refugees escaping to a camp in Thailand, and eventually to the U.S. Middle grade fiction.
Tangled Threads: A Hmong Girl’s Story by Pegi Dietz Shea. Middle grade fiction, takes place mostly in the U.S. after this Laotian girl has already immigrated from Laos via Thailand.
The Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill. Murder mystery featuring a Laotian coroner in the 1970’s. The series is up to six, the latest published in 2009, The Merry Misogynist. Adult fiction.
Carpe Diem by Autumn Cornwell. A sixteen year old American girl goes backpacking through Southeast Asia, including Laos, with her eccentric grandmother. YA fiction.


Reading Through Asia: Vietnam

Hitchhiking Vietnam: A Woman’s Solo Journey in an Elusive Land by Karin Muller. Globe Pequot Press, 1998.

I enjoyed reading this memoir/travelogue of an American woman who spent seven months in post-war Vietnam, traveling by bus, motorcycle, bicycle and on foot from the Mekong Delta to the northern border with China and along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. She endured hardships and discomforts that would have sent me scuttling back to Texas within the first few pages, but I never was sure why. Ms. Muller tries to explain in the book. She writes about her mother’s stories of growing up in Africa and about the sense of adventure she inherited from her somewhat peripatetic parents. However, and maybe it was just my underdeveloped sense of adventure, the Vietnam Karin Muller describes is not inviting; it’s full of greed, bribery, poverty, alcoholism, and political corruption. And that’s just among the tourist population. The Vietnamese themselves, with a few exceptions, are out to get as many American dollars as possible or in the case of the government bureaucrats and the police, determined to make travel as difficult as possible for anyone with fair skin and a camera. Muller keeps lookng for a “village” where she can live for awhile and enjoy her Rousseau-inspired vision of happy natives living simple, uncluttered lives. She does find such villages a couple of times during her odyssey, but the visit usually comes to an abrupt end when government officials or basic materialism intervene.

The book, while fascinating in its descriptions of modern Vietnam from a foreigner’s perspective, didn’t stir my sense of adventure, nor did it make me want to hop on a plane for Vietnam. But don’t go by me. Eldest Daughter told me today that I was a stick in the mud, and my idea of a wonderful trip involves London, Oxford, Cambridge, and Stratford-on-the-Avon. I think I’ll stick with the armchair travel route to Asia since I’m spoiled by basic conveniences such as flush toilets and clean drinking water and food that doesn’t contain parasites.

One thing I found interesting, and sad, is that Vietnam seems to be going the way of China with its one-child policy as exemplified in this account of a conversation that the author had with a group of Vietnamese soldiers:

“To my surprise, not one of them had more than two children in a land that valued family above all else, the larger the better. My driver reminded me of the billboards I had seen in almost every town, proclaiming the new government in favor of small families, with captions reading, ‘Have one or two children!’ Army doctrine apparently took a more active role, and soldiers were demoted one star for every child more than two.”

There were other stories that shed light on the current state of the people of Vietnam: Ms. Muller’s friend and erstwhile guide Tam tells her about his struggles to survive in post-war Vietnam as a former interpreter for the U.S. Marines during the war.

One chapter focuses on the Zao village in northern Vietnam where Ms. Muller spends a week living with a family of rice-growers. It’s somewhat idyllic, with a patriarchal extended family working together to build the family’s fortunes and find marriages for its young men and women. However, the chapter also includes a badly burned baby with no medical care other than a tube of athlete’s foot medication salvaged from the Red Cross at some time in the history of the village. Not so idyllic after all.

In the final analysis, I just couldn’t figure out why Karin Muller wanted to travel through Vietnam. She seemed to have some compassion for the people whose lives were so poverty-stricken. But harking back to a bad experience in the Peace Corps in the Philippines, Ms. Muller doesn’t think she can make a difference in the people’s lives nor that she has any right to try. She does try to rescue some endangered animals (a gibbon, baby leopards, and an eagle) destined for the medicinal markets of China, but the results of that attempt at good works are mixed. She says at the beginning of the book that she wants to understand the Vietnamese people and their ability to forgive their former enemies, the Americans. Maybe cultural understanding was enough of a goal to get her through sleepless nights in squalid surroundings, dysentery and scurvy, and countless bureaucratic tangles and arguments.

It wouldn’t be enough for me. I’m not only a stick in the mud; I’m also a wimp.

Other Vietnam books I have read or want to read:

I’ve heard that The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien is a good read about the Vietnam War and the American soldiers who fought and died in it. I have the book on my shelf, but I haven’t read it yet. I did read Phillip Caputo’s classic memoir A Rumor of War (a long time ago), and I remember it as fascinating, disturbing, but sometimes simplistic. Either of these books would probably teach the reader a lot about Americans in Vietnam, but not too much about Vietnam or the Vietnamese themselves.

For children or yong adults the following books might be helpful in understanding Vietnamese culture and interactions:

Goodbye, Vietnam by Gloria Whelan.
Cracker: The Best Dog in Vietnam by Cynthia Kadohata. Semicolon review here.
When Heaven Fell by Carolyn Marsden. Semicolon review here.
Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers. Perry, a teenager from Harlem, experiences the horrors of the Vietnam War.
Paradise of the Blind by Thu Huong Duong and Nina McPherson. This book is a YA coming of age novel of post-war Vietnam, originally written in Vietnamese, banned in Vietnam, and later translated into English and published in the U.S. It sounds like a wonderful window into Vietnam written by a Vietnamese author.

For today’s round-up of reviews of titles set in Southeast Asia or written by Southeast Asian authors, check out the One Shot World Tour at Chasing Ray.

Reading Through Asia: Cambodia

First I read When Broken Glass Floats by Chanrithy Him. This harrowing and honest memoir of young girl growing up in Khmer Rouge-ruled Kampuchea was my introduction to the literature of the Cambodian Holocaust. I’ve never seen the movie that everybody seems to reference when talking about the horror that was Pol Pot’s Kampuchea because I cannot watch reenactments of actual, horrible events. I’ve also never seen Schindler’s List nor The Passion of the Christ. Reading about such events and acts is bad enough.

During the time covered in the book, Chanrithy Him suffered the loss of her father, murdered in a “re-education camp”, her mother, who died in a squalid hospital from untreated disease and malnutrition, five siblings, who died of malnutrition and disease, and other family members lost to the insane and disastrous policies of the Khmer Rouge government. The book begins with some background about Chanrithy Him’s childhood, but focuses on the details of her daily life in Cambodia/Kampuchea from April 17, 1975 when the Khmer Rouge entered Phnom Pen until her escape a few years later with what remained of her family to a refugee camp in Thailand.

“Death is a constant, and we’ve become numb to the shock of it. People die here and there, all around us, falling like flies that have been sprayed with poison.”

You can read the first chapter of When Broken Glass Floats online here.
And here is an interesting review of three memoirs of the Cambodian Killing Fields, all published in 2000: Music through the Dark, written by Bree Lefreniere and narrated by Daran Kravanh, When Broken Glass Floats by Chanrithy Him, and First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung.

Next I read When the War Was Over: Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge Revolution by Elizabeth Becker. This book was a more complete history of Cambodia before and during Pol Pot’s reign of terror. The author attempted to show how Pol Pot and cohorts came into power, what kept them in power, and what the effects of their genocidal policies were on the people of Cambodia. It’s a decent enough attempt, but Ms. Becker gets bogged down in the details and sometimes fails to explain the larger picture. Pol Pot and his friends sometimes seem like sympathetic characters even in the midst of their carrying out of horrendous acts simply because they are humans who even turn against one another at intervals.

Some of the most memorable passages in the book tell about Becker’s personal experiences in Cambodia as the guest of the Khmer Rouge regime. She was invited, along with two other journalists, in December 1978 to see what the Khmer Rouge had accomplished in a little over three years of rule in Cambodia. She, of course, saw only what the government wanted her to see, and she was unable to talk to people or see anything without the ever-present guides and translators who presented the Communist propaganda line in spite of the general appearance of grinding poverty and escalating violence and paranoia. Becker’s visit came to a climax with the midnight murder of one of her fellow journalists, Malcolm Caldwell, a sympathizer with the Khmer Rouge government, who nevertheless became a victim of its incompetence and general craziness.

Read this one for all the detailed information and for an idea of what was going on when all over the country and in foreign countries in relation to Cambodia. Read some of the memoirs and personal stories listed above to get a feel for what horror was perpetrated by the this so-called “agrarian communist utopia of Democratic Kampuchea.”

For today’s round-up of reviews of titles set in Southeast Asia or written by Southeast Asian authors, check out the One Shot World Tour at Chasing Ray.

Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski

I read this 2007 National Book Award finalist because Mindy Withrow said it was good. She was right.

End of review. Read it.


Just kidding. But you really should read the book before you read my thoughts about the book because there are many, many things to discuss here. But you should come to the book without preconceived notions. So go thou hence to the bookstore or the library, and then come back, and we’ll talk.

Martiya is an anthropologist and a murderer. How do we reconcile those two legacies? That’s a lot of what the book is about. How could such an intelligent, lively, promising, woman have first buried herself in a native village in northern Thailand and then killed a man in cold blood? Make no mistake, Martiya does bury herself. She goes to Thailand looking for a soul-changing experience, and she gets one. She can never go back to Berkley again, not even to Western civilization anywhere. She becomes a part of the Dyalo culture she is studying, then becomes an outcast, then when she tries to be reborn into Western Christianity, she is rejected again.

Looking at this novel from my own perspective, that of an evangelical Christian sympathetic to the missionaries, the Walker family, I read the story of a woman, unsaved and unprotected by the blood of Jesus Christ, who decides to take up residence with demons and becomes enslaved to them and to the evil that they represent. In the Walkers, especially Thomas and Naomi Walker, I see a family of Christians who make a crucial mistake in their dealings with Martiya, in not seeing her as sinner in need of salvation just as much as the Dyalos need liberation from demonic bondage. Thomas and Naomi Walker pay for that mistake with the life of their only son.

However, one could read the story as the saga of an anthropologist who is driven mad by her long exile from Western civilization and who is finally broken by the single-minded jealousy of a an offended woman (Naomi) who should be able to overlook Martiya’s sin if Christianity is really true. However, I am left with questions that make me want to re-read the novel to see what I missed:

Are all the characters in the novel possessed by their own particular view of the world such that they can’t see each other or love each other? Why does Martiya seem to be so happy in the end in the prison as she works on her ethnography of prison life? And if she is happy in that work, why does she commit suicide? Because she’s finished? Because Rice is finished with her? How do Laura and Thomas Walker reconcile their part in their son’s death with their continuing work as missionaries? Why does the author imply that it takes a supernatural experience of hearing singing angels in the sky to become a committed Christian? Does he believe that? Why does Martiya’s paramour Hupasha remain faithful to Christ even after others have fallen away? What is the significance of drugs, particularly opium in the novel? Martiya commits suicide with a ball of opium. The narrator smokes opium and says that he hears the final episode of the story from the lips of Martiya’s ghost. Is opium related to the demonic practices of the Dyalo, to the traditions that Christianity is there to destroy? Can one enter into the native’s point of view and still remain an impartial observer, a scientist? Once you’ve “gone native” are you a better anthropologist or a worse one?

I may have to add this novel to my list of all-time favorites. It’s absolutely fascinating on many levels. And as an added fillip to my reading of the novel, it bears some relation to things that are going on in my own family. Eldest Daughter’s boyfriend just left to go to Thailand with this group to live in a a poor section of Bangkok for four months as a missionary. I also think he’s trying to figure out the course of his own life, looking for a “transformation of the observer’s soul” in the perhaps overly dramatic words of the author of Fieldwork. We’ll see what he finds.

Reading Through Southeast Asia

Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray is sponsoring another One Shot World Tour on August 12th. The idea is to read and review on that date one book –any reading level–either written by an author from that region or set in that part of the world. For the purposes of this tour, Southeast Asia consists of the following countries:

Silk Umbrellas by Carolyn Marsden.
Touch The Dragon or Dream of a Thousand Lives: A Sojourn in Thailand by Karen Connelly.
Children of the River by Linda Crew.
The Stone Goddess by Minfong Ho.
When Broken Glass Floats by Chanrithy Him.
When the War Was Over by Elizabeth Becker.
First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung.
River of Time by John Swain.
Goodbye, Vietnam by Gloria Whelan.
Cracker: The Best Dog in Vietnam by Cynthia Kadohata. Semicolon review here.
When Heaven Fell by Carolyn Marsden. Semicolon review here.
Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers. Perry, a teenager from Harlem, experiences the horrors of the Vietnam War.
Paradise of the Blind by Thu Huong Duong and Nina McPherson
The Malayan Trilogy by Anthony Burgess.
The Flame Tree by Richard Lewis. Semicolon review here. I loved this book when I read it back in 2005, and I’m recommending it to anyone who reads YA fiction and is participating in the tour.
Peace Child by Don Richardson. Christian missionaries Don and Carol Richardson confront a culture in which treachery is a cultural icon. Excellent true story.
A House in Bali by Colin McPhee.
The Year of Living Dangerously by Christopher Koch.
In Our Image; America’s Empire in the Philippines by Stanley Karnow.
Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) by José Rizal.
When the Elephants Dance by Tess Uriza Holthe.

I gathered this list from some of the lists linked below and from my own reading, and I’ll be reading a new-to-me book from the list above so that I can join in the world tour. I think I may focus on Cambodia.

All bloggers are welcome to participate in the One Shot World Tour on August 12th.

Links and Sources:
Southeast Asian Reading List by Bibliobuli.
Bibliography of Southeast Asian Children’s Books.
Cambodia: Book Reviews and Recommended Reading.