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'Dream of the Red Chamber' judged 'Best Asian novel'

UK newspaper The Telegraph has recently selected 10 of the best Asian novels of all time, with the Chinese novel The Dream of the Red Chamber topping the list.

The newspaper praised the novel and said, "With a cast of more than 400 characters, this episodic novel written in the vernacular rather than classical Chinese tells of two branches of an aristocratic family with a tragic love story at its humane heart."

The A Fine Balance by Indian-born Canadian writer Rohinton Mistry ranked second place, followed by Rashomon and One Thousand and One Nights.

Among the 10 books, except The Dream of the Red Chamber and One Thousand and One Nights, the remaining eight novels are all contemporary novels after 20th century. India winning the most spots with four novels on the list.

Here is the list of the classics.

1. The Dream of the Red Chamber

Cao Xueqin (printed 1791)

The Telegraph:"With a cast of more than 400 characters, this episodic novel written in the vernacular rather than classical Chinese tells of two branches of an aristocratic family with a tragic love story at its humane heart. Chairman Mao admired its critique of feudal corruption."

2.A Fine Balance

Rohinton Mistry (1995)

The Telegraph:"Set during the Emergency of 1970 (a period marked by political unrest, torture and detentions), Mistry is critical of then-prime minister Indira Gandhi, although she is never named. Four characters from very different backgrounds are brought together by rapid social changes."

3. Rashomon

Ryunosuke Akutagawa (1915)

The Telegraph: "The author of more than 150 modernist short stories, but no full-length novels, Ryunosuke published Rashomon in a university magazine when he was just 17. Just 13 pages long, it comprises seven statements regarding the murder of a Samurai and his wife’s disappearance."

4. One Thousand and One Nights

Anonymous (First published in English 1706)

The Telegraph: "Wiley Scheherazade diverts the sultan from her execution with the poetic and riddlesome adventures of Aladdin, Ali Baba, Sinbad and mystical creatures. Packing in crime, horror, fantasy and romance, it influenced authors as diverse as Tolstoy, Dumas, Rushdie, Conan Doyle, Proust and Lovecraft."

5. Heat and Dust

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (1975)

The Telegraph: "In this compellingmnovel by the only person to have won both the Booker Prize and an Oscar, a woman travels to India to learn the truth about her step-grandmother and her life under the British Raj of the 1920s."

6. All About H Hatterr

G V Desani (1948)

The Telegraph: "It's the glorious mash-up of English and Indian colloquialism that makes this book, about the son of a European merchant and a Malayan lady, such a wild, whimsical delight. Anthony Burgess admired its 'creative chaos that grumbles at the restraining banks'."

7. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Haruki Murakami (1994)

The Telegraph: "This labyrinthine and hallucinogenic novel gets going when Toru Okada's cat disappears in suburban Tokyo. He consults a pair of psychic sisters who appear to him in dreams and reality. But although Murakami's plot meanders, it never loses its pace or its humanity."

8. Spring Snow

Yukio Mishima (1969-71)

The Telegraph: "Before committing ritual suicide in November 1970, Mishima posted this tetralogy of novels (named after a dry lunar plain once believed awash with water) to his publisher. It's a saga of 20th-century Japan, in which a law student imagines a school friend constantly reincarnated."

9. Midnight's Children

Salman Rushdie (1980)

The Telegraph: "Magic realism meets postcolonial India in the ambitious, colourful and clever novel which was awarded the 'Booker of Bookers' Prize. Hero Saleem Sinai is born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947: the second of India's independence and is endowed with an extraordinary talent."

10. The God of Small Things

Arundhati Roy (1997)

The Telegraph: "This intense and exquisitely written tale of fraternal twins unfolds against a backdrop of communism, the caste system, and Christianity in Kerala from the Sixties to the Nineties. 'Change is one thing,' writes Roy in her Booker Prize-winning debut, 'Acceptance is another'."













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