Hello, readers! Welcome to another #5OnMyTBR update. The rule is relatively simple. I just have to pick five books from my to-be-read pile that fit the week’s theme.

This week’s theme: None

Unfortunately, there are still no fresh prompts. Nonetheless, I have decided to go on with the 5 on my TBR list. As I am about to embark on a journey through works of Asian literature later this year, I am featuring works of South East Asian literature. Last week, I featured works of Indian literature, and, the week before that, Korean Literature. Like Indian and Korean literature, my venture into the works of South East Asian literature has been quite limited. Sure, I have been slowly appreciating the works of Vietnamese writers but my forays into the works of other writers from the subcontinent are intermittent. I find my exploration of South East Asian literature is lacking, including works of Philippine literature. this is unfortunate and ironic. Nevertheless, here’s my list, but for this list, I will not be including works of Philippine literature! Happy Monday and happy reading!

5OnMyTBR is a bookish meme hosted by E. @ Local Bee Hunter’s Nook where you chose five books from your to-be-read pile that fit that week’s theme. If you’d like more info, head over to the announcement post!

Title: The Garden of Evening Mists
Author: Tan Twan Eng
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publishing Date: 2020
No. of Pages: 332
Country: Malaysia

Synopsis: Malaya, 1951. Yun Ling Teoh, the scarred lone survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp, seeks solace among the jungle-fringed tea plantations of Cameron Highlands. There she discovers Yugiri, the only Japanese garden in Malaya, and its owner and creator, the enigmatic Aritomo, exiled former gardener of the emperor of Japan. Despite her hatred of the Japanese, Yun Ling seeks to engage Aritomo to create a garden in memory of her sister, who died in the camp. Aritomo refuses but agrees to accept Yun Ling as his apprentice “until the monsoon comes.” Then she can design a garden for herself.

As the months pass, Yun Ling finds herself intimately drawn to the gardener and his art, while all around them a communist guerilla war rages. But the Garden of Evening Mists remains a place of mystery. Who is Aritomo and how did he come to leave Japan? And is the real story of how Yun Ling managed to survive the war perhaps the darkest secret of all?

Title: Four Reigns
Author: Kukrit Pramoj
Country: Thailand

Synopsis: Four Reigns (Si Phaendin) is the longest and best-known novel of M.R. Kukrit, the celebrated Thai statesman and aficionado of Thailand’s cultural heritage. This classic novel is essential reading for anyone interested in the literature of Thailand.

Four Reigns tells the rich and entertaining story of the life of Phloi and her family, both inside and outside palace walls. The story unfolds during the reign of King Chulalongkorn (King Rama V) in the closing years of the 1800s, ending in the mid 1940s with the death of his grandson, King Ananda Mahidol (King Rama VIII). Over a span of four reigns, we see the lives of minor courtiers under the absolute monarchy and watch the huge social and political changes that Thailand experienced as it opened itself up to international contact. We follow the characters against the historical backdrops of the 1932 revolution, the new constitutional monarchy, the growing Japanese presence in Thailand, the outbreak of World War II, and the Allied bombing raids on Bangkok. Through the lives and relationships of Phloi and her husband and children, we experience modern Thai history in an intimate and personal way, garnering new insights into the sensibilities of an era.

Four Reigns was originally written in 1953 as a newspaper serial in the Thai daily, Siam Rath, as were M.R. Kukrit’s other popular novels, including Phai Daeng (1954) (Red Bamboo), and Lai Chiwit (1954) (Many Lives). This is a new version of the original 1981 translation by Tulachandra. (Source: Goodreads)

Title: This Earth of Mankind, and the rest of the Buru Quartet
Author: Pramoedya Ananta Toer
Country: Indonesia

Synopsis: Minke is a young Javanese student of great intelligence and ambition. Living equally among the colonists and colonized of 19th-century Java, he battles against the confines of colonial strictures. It is his love for Annelies that enables him to find the strength to embrace his world. (Source: Goodreads)

Title: The Road to Wanting
Author: Wendy Law-Yone
Country: Myanmar

Synopsis: Sometimes the hardest journey is the road home.

Na Ga was always in search of a better life. But now she sits, alone, in a hotel room in Wanting, a godforsaken town on the Chinese-Burmese border. Plucked from her wild life as a rural eel-catcher, Na Ga is then abandoned by her would-be rescuers in Rangoon. Later, as a teenager, she finds herself chasing the dream of a new life in Thailand – where further betrayals and violations await. Yet it seems that her fighting spirit will not be broken.

But for how long can Na Ga belong nowhere and with no one? In the dingy hotel in Wanting she is forced to confront her compulsion to keep running, and to ask herself why, until now, she’s resisted the journey home. (Source: Goodreads)

Title: The Sorrow of War
Author: Bao Ninh
Translator: Phan Thanh Hao
Publisher: Vintage
Publishing Date: 1998
No. of Pages: 217
Country: Vietnam

Synopsis: Bao Ninh, a former North Vietnamese soldier, provides a strikingly honest look at how the Vietnam War forever changed his life, his country, and the people who live there. Originally published against government wishes in Vietnam because of its non-heroic, non-ideological tone, The Sorrow of War has won worldwide acclaim and become an international bestseller. (Source: Goodreads)

Title: The Wandering
Author: Intan Paramaditha
Country: Indonesia

Synopsis: The most ingenious, unique novel you will read all year, where you choose your own story as you travel across the world

You’ve grown roots, you’re gathering moss. You’re desperate to escape your boring life teaching English in Jakarta, to go out and see the world. So you make a Faustian pact with a devil, who gives you a gift, and a warning. A pair of red shoes to take you wherever you want to go.

But where will you choose to go?

To New York, to follow your dreams?

To Berlin or Amsterdam? Lima or Tijuana? Or onto a train that will never stop?

You’re forever wandering, everywhere and nowhere, but are you ever home?

The choices you make may mean you end up as a tourist or an undocumented migrant, a mother or a murderer, and you will meet many travellers with their own stories to tell. As your paths cross and intertwine, you’ll come to realise that no story is ever new.

The Wandering is a novel about the highs and lows of global nomadism, the politics and privileges of travel and desire, and the freedoms and limitations of the choices we make, by one of Asia’s most exciting writers. It’s a playful and ingenious reminder that borders are real, that turns the traditional adventure story on its head. (Source: Goodreads)

Title: The Gift of Rain
Author: Tan Twan Eng
Country: Malaysia

Synopsis: The recipient of extraordinary acclaim from critics and the bookselling community, Tan Twan Eng’s debut novel casts a powerful spell and has garnered comparisons to celebrated wartime storytellers Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene. Set during the tumult of World War II, on the lush Malayan island of Penang, The Gift of Rain tells a riveting and poignant tale about a young man caught in the tangle of wartime loyalties and deceits.

In 1939, sixteen-year-old Philip Hutton-the half-Chinese, half-English youngest child of the head of one of Penang’s great trading families-feels alienated from both the Chinese and British communities. He at last discovers a sense of belonging in his unexpected friendship with Hayato Endo, a Japanese diplomat. Philip proudly shows his new friend around his adored island, and in return Endo teaches him about Japanese language and culture and trains him in the art and discipline of aikido. But such knowledge comes at a terrible price. When the Japanese savagely invade Malaya, Philip realizes that his mentor and sensei-to whom he owes absolute loyalty-is a Japanese spy. Young Philip has been an unwitting traitor, and must now work in secret to save as many lives as possible, even as his own family is brought to its knees. (Source: Goodreads)