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The Asian Literature Treasure Hunt is On!

BY Boon Koh
Published 5 May 2010

London is going to be awash with books when a literary treasure hunt begins as nearly 500 Asian themed books are ‘released’ into Marylebone throughout May. The event is staged in conjunction with BookCrossing – an innovative new way of sharing and recycling books.

In this online phenomenon, books destined to be re-read and shared are registered on the BookCrossing website and given an unique identity number allowing them to be tracked, and then set free into the world (or in this case the depths of Marylebone).  Only fate can decide where the books end up

So why are they doing this? Asian Literature Festival Director, Adrienne Loftus Parkins explains, ‘‘the concept of releasing Asian themed books has many benefits. It allows us to distribute wonderful Asian themed books to readers who might not be familiar with them, it attracts people to Marylebone to discover what this dynamic area has to offer, it helps generate awareness of the Asia House Festival of Asian Literature, and its earth friendly in that it gives us a way to recycle and share books.’’

Asia House is providing the public with a way to be eco-friendly and recycle books as well as get new free books. Asia House is set to be a centre for the event and people can pick up and drop off books at their Marylebone headquarters on 63 New Cavendish Street. The event has been organised to encourage the British public to read books written about Asia and Asians, and to recognise the large contribution these cultures play in determining the character of our own communities. Books being released include recent titles by luminary writers such as William Dalrymple, Sathnam Sangera, Hilary Spurling, Tishani Doshi and Vikram Chandra.

Journalist and author Yasmin Alibhai-Brown commented, ‘’What an exciting idea – a relay race of words with books passed on from person to person and tracked, telling stories of Asia, its rich past and present, helping readers to understand why the future blows eastwards.’’ Her critically acclaimed book, The Settler’s Cookbook, is one of the many generously donated for the cause.

The event is part of the Asia House Festival of Asian Literature. Now in its 4th year, the Festival will host talks and events by some of the most acclaimed writers working in and writing on the region.  Fatima Bhutto; Neel Mukherjee; Tishani Doshi; Daljit Nagra; Victoria Schofield and Chang-rae Lee are among over 40 writers appearing in 20 events across this year’s Festival.

For more information about the release of Asian novels in the borough of Marylebone or other events, go to www.festivalofasianliterature.com.