11 Fantastic Novels About Asian History

Asia is the largest continent in the world, both in terms of land mass and population. Each of its countries has a rich and fascinating culture that has been shaped over hundreds of years. If you're interested in the history of Asian people, you'll be sure to enjoy the eleven works of historical fiction listed here, which explore everything from 16th century Japan to the Korean War. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

11 Fantastic Novels About Asian History

Title Author
1. Music of the Ghosts Vaddey Ratner
2. The Buddha in the Attic Julie Otsuka
3. The Third Son Julie Wu
4. Forgotten Country Catherine Chung
5. Evening Is the Whole Day Preeta Samarasan
6. Child of Vengeance David Kirk
7. Everything Belongs to Us Yoojin Grace Wuertz
8. Diamond Head Cecily Wong
9. The Mountain of Light Indu Sundaresan
10. If You Leave Me Crystal Hana Kim
11. The Map of Lost Memories Kim Fay

A Few Important Events From Asian History

Year Event
12000 BC The first permanent settlements begin to form
5000 BC Invention of the wheel & the plow
100 BC Introduction of Buddhism
320 - 467 India is ruled by the Gupta Empire
1299 Rise of the Ottoman Empire
1467 Civil war divides Japan
1689 China & Russia sign border treaty
1920 Gandhi leads his first movement

Foundations of Eastern Civilization

In Depth

Asia is the largest continent in the world, and as such, it covers a vast number of countries, each with its own rich history and culture. There are multitudes of iconic figures and events over many eras that authors can draw inspiration from. With that said, we've gathered eleven fantastic novels about Asian history, listed in no particular order.

First up, at #1, we have "Music of the Ghosts" by Vaddey Ratner. When Teera was a child, she and her aunt managed to escape the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime and live a new life in America. As an adult, she receives a letter from a man only known as "the Old Musician" who claims that he knew her father. Now, Teera returns to Cambodia in order to learn the truth about what happened to her father, meeting fellow survivors along the way.

Next, at #2, is "The Buddha in the Attic" by Julie Otsuka, which centers on a group of young Japanese women brought to the United States as picture brides. Their new husbands aren't as rich and successful as they were led to believe, and upon arriving in San Francisco, the brides are faced with varying levels of hardship. The story follows these women as they struggle to adjust to a different culture, spanning from their initial arrival all the way to the Second World War, when Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps.

Their new husbands aren't as rich and successful as they were led to believe, and upon arriving in San Francisco, the brides are faced with varying levels of hardship.

At #3 is "The Third Son" by Julie Wu. In Japanese-occupied Taiwan, Saburo, the son of a Taiwanese politician, saves the life of a girl named Yoshiko, whom he immediately falls in love with. Despised and abused by his family, he grows up malnourished and is forced to provide for his own education. Eventually, he reconnects with Yoshiko, whom he marries and has a son with. When he receives an opportunity to study and work in America, he's torn between trying to earn the respect of his cruel family or finally letting go of his unfortunate past.

Next up, at #4, we have "Forgotten Country" by Catherine Chung. Before Janie's sister is born, her grandmother tells her that their family has always lost a daughter in every generation. Several years later, her sister Hannah mysteriously disappears, and it's up to Janie to find her and bring her home. Along the way, she discovers more about her Korean heritage and the real reason her parents moved to the United States.

At #5 is "Evening Is the Whole Day" by Preeta Samarasan. Set in Malaysia, the story revolves around the wealthy yet dysfunctional Indo-Malaysian Rajasekharan family and all of their dark secrets. The novel jumps back and forth through time to answer several questions presented at the beginning, such as what crimes were committed by their now-dismissed servant Chellam and why everyone in the family seems to be drifting apart from one another.

Set in Malaysia, the story revolves around the wealthy yet dysfunctional Indo-Malaysian Rajasekharan family and all of their dark secrets.

Next, at #6, is "Child of Vengeance" by David Kirk. Set in late 16th century Japan, the novel focuses on the life of legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi, also known as Bennosuke. As a child, he is raised by his uncle Dorinbo, a monk who discourages him from following in the footsteps of his warrior father. When his father Munisai returns, Bennosuke has to face their family's dark history and learn the ways of the samurai. The story follows his journey leading up to the Battle of Sekigahara, where he takes on the name Miyamoto Musashi for the first time.

At #7 is "Everything Belongs to Us" by Yoojin Grace Wuertz. Taking place in Seoul in 1978, the book follows two women studying at one of South Korea's most prestigious universities. Namin comes from a poor upbringing, and she's working hard towards lifting her family out of poverty. Her childhood friend Jisun is the daughter of a rich mogul who wants to escape her father's plans for her, opting to become an activist instead. It's an emotional tale that shows how the constraints of society can affect those from different social classes.

Next up, at #8, we have "Diamond Head" by Cecily Wong. After the Boxer Rebellion, shipping industrialist Frank Leong moves his family from China to Hawaii. The story revolves around the Chinese legend of the "Red Thread of Fate," in which everyone is destined to marry a certain person chosen for them by the matchmaker god. This novel follows three different generations of the wealthy Leong family and how each main character's decisions affect their future and their next of kin.

This novel follows three different generations of the wealthy Leong family and how each main character's decisions affect their future and their next of kin.

At #9 is "The Mountain of Light" by Indu Sundaresan. For centuries, the 186-carat Kohinoor diamond has been passed down from one ruler to another as a symbol of power. This tale is centered on how the aforementioned gem is acquired by Maharajah Ranjit Singh and how it eventually falls into the hands of Queen Victoria after the British Empire conquers India.

Next, at #10, is "If You Leave Me" by Crystal Hana Kim. In the midst of the Korean War, Haemi Lee and her family, including her sick brother, are forced to live in a refugee camp, where she and her childhood friend Kyunghwan develop a loving relationship. Unfortunately, circumstances force Haemi to sacrifice her feelings for Kyunghwan and marry his wealthier cousin, Jisoo, instead. The book mainly focuses on how the war in Korea continues to affect the ill-fated lovers' lives, even after many years.

Finally, at #11, we have "The Map of Lost Memories" by Kim Fay. When Irene Blum learns that she won't be getting the museum curator position that she's always dreamed of, she quits her job and sets off to search for an ancient Cambodian temple in order to prove her worth. Throughout her journey, she learns more about her family's mysterious past, encountering a whole cast of shady individuals along the way.