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Hong Kong Expat Forum

Good Novels to Read About Expat Life?

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7/3/2021 08:22 EST

Hi all!

I was a lifelong expat working mainly in Southeast Asia (25 years in Malaysia, HK, Korea, Philippines and Thailand) and am now retired. One of my current pleasures is in reading good novels that strongly capture that wonderful feeling of being an expat in a fascinating land. The best of them feel authentic and are awash in color and anecdotes and so forth.

My favorites are, of course, any of the numerous novels (plus travel narratives) by Paul Theroux. Also the work of VS Naipaul is excellent. I enjoyed the Anthony Burgess 'Malayan Trilogy' a lot and for some historical background, strongly recommend reading the whole lot of W. Somerset Maugham's short stories -- these specialize in the lives of British colonial administrators and planters etc. during Great Britain's glory days as an empire . Most take place in the Straits Settlements, though he wanders from those locales, too.

Although it's not an expat novel per se, my all-time favorite read along these lines is Alex Garland's THE BEACH.

And considering my time in Thailand, it is always fun to read John Burdett's riveting detective stories. I'd also recommend Collin Cotterill's series about Dr. Siri Paibun in Laos. Very authentic and enjoyable.

But it's not easy to find many new entries in this genre. Would appreciate hearing from fellow forum members of any good new expat-related novels they have found.

To start the ball rolling, here's my discovery.

A new book is up on Amazon called "PACIFIC DASH - From Asia Vagabond to Casino King" by Chet Nairene. Life story of a kid who starts out as an expat at the new international school in Hong Kong in the late 1960s. The story, told in first-person, follows his life as a vagabond across Asia, which takes some amazing twists and turns, including a Bali backpacking interlude, his romancing of a Taiwanese mob boss's princess daughter, his later working on a floating casino boat offshore from Singapore and eventually his run up to Macau back when it was seedier, where he invents the VIP junket business and makes serious enemies in the process.

I just finished it and can recommend. Breezy, fun and a good read.

Anybody else offer any suggestions? Much appreciated!

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