10 books like The World of Suzie Wong

By Richard Mason,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The World of Suzie Wong. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Tale of Kieu

By Nguyen Du,

Book cover of The Tale of Kieu: Truyen Kieu

The Tale of Kieu is an early 19th Century epic poem and the cornerstone of Vietnamese literature. Adapted from a 17th Century Chinese novel, it is the story of a beautiful, well-to-do young woman forced into prostitution to save her family from destitution in a time of great government corruption and civil unrest. The poem is so revered in Vietnam that there is a popular branch of fortune-telling that uses it for predictions, and Kieu’s sacrifice is seen as mirroring the sacrifices Vietnamese have made in times of war and hardship, even across the centuries before the poem was written. The poem is bejewelled with beautiful lines, and presents a unique depiction of a woman who retains her dignity despite the many who try to rob her of it.

The Tale of Kieu

By Nguyen Du,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Tale of Kieu as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Tale of Kieu is an epic poem in Vietnamese written by Nguyen Du (1766-1820), and is widely regarded as the most significant work of Vietnamese literature. In 3,254 verses, written in luc bat (6/8) meter, the poem recounts the life, trials and tribulations of Thuy Kieu, a beautiful and talented young woman, who had to sacrifice herself to save her family. To save her father and younger brother from prison, she sold herself into marriage with a middle-aged man, not knowing that he is a pimp, and was forced into prostitution.


Boule de Suif

By Guy de Maupassant,

Book cover of Boule de Suif: Maupassant

Maupassant’s story takes its name from the chubby prostitute at its centre, nicknamed ‘Bowl of Fat’. At the time of Prussian occupation of France, a group of petty bourgeoisie, upper bourgeoisie, noble and religious people encourage her to offer herself to a Prussian officer in return for the freedom to travel through an occupied town to Le Havre. Through this short novel, Maupassant reveals the hypocrisy and moral poverty of those who sit in the layers of society above such outcasts as ‘Boule de suif’ and, by contrast, both the moral solidity and even innocence of the ‘fallen woman’ herself.

Boule de Suif

By Guy de Maupassant,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Boule de Suif as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Henry-René-Albert-Guy de Maupassant est un écrivain et journaliste littéraire français né le 5 août 1850 au château de Miromesnil à Tourville-sur-Arques (Seine-Inférieure) et mort le 6 juillet 1893 à Paris.Lié à Gustave Flaubert et à Émile Zola, Maupassant a marqué la littérature française par ses six romans, dont Une vie en 1883, Bel-Ami en 1885, Pierre et Jean en 1887-1888, et surtout par ses nouvelles (parfois intitulées contes) comme Boule de suif en 1880, les Contes de la bécasse (1883) ou Le Horla (1887). Ces œuvres retiennent l’attention par leur force réaliste, la présence importante du fantastique et par le…


House of the Sleeping Beauties and Other Stories

By Yasunari Kawabata,

Book cover of House of the Sleeping Beauties and Other Stories

Novellas are a perfect place to start for poets who are interested in writing longer, more narrative work. They’re slim, lyrical, and less daunting. I read this novella in college & haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It takes place in what I can only refer to as a “Sleeping Brothel” where elderly men pay to sleep beside young women. The story is haunting, but it doesn’t take cheap horror shots. Instead, it delves into the complexity of loneliness, the shared vulnerability of sleep, and the human need for comfort.

House of the Sleeping Beauties and Other Stories

By Yasunari Kawabata,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked House of the Sleeping Beauties and Other Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Three surreal, erotically charged stories from Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata.
 
In the three long tales in this collection, Yasunari Kawabata examines the boundaries between fantasy and reality in the minds of three lonely men. Piercing examinations of sexuality and human psychology—and works of remarkable subtlety and beauty—these stories showcase one of the twentieth century’s great writers—in any language—at his very best.


On the City Wall

By Rudyard Kipling,

Book cover of On the City Wall

I’m cheating a little here, as technically Kipling’s On the City Wall is a long story rather than a book itself, though I notice it’s recently been published as a standalone, and can be found in both Kipling’s Collected Stories and the original collection it appeared in, Soldiers Three. The story concerns a beautiful Punjabi courtesan called Lalun who welcomes ‘guests’ from all strata of society to her house on the ancient city wall of Lahore. Unlike the commonly depicted ‘fallen woman’, Lalun is a woman of significant wealth, great influence, and, especially, power over men. The story is full of wonderful comic ironies, lavish descriptions of a historical city, and the relationship at the heart of it, between Lalun and a fawning British official, is an enthralling study of matters romantic, spiritual and political.

On the City Wall

By Rudyard Kipling,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On the City Wall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On the City Wall is a short story by Rudyard Kipling. Joseph Rudyard Kipling (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936 was an English short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He wrote tales and poems of British soldiers in India and stories for children. He was born in Bombay, in the Bombay Presidency of British India, and was taken by his family to England when he was five years old. Kipling's works of fiction include The Jungle Book (a collection of stories which includes "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi"), the Just So Stories (1902), Kim (1901), and many short stories, including "The Man Who Would…


The Sing-Song Girls of Shanghai

By Bangqing Han,

Book cover of The Sing-Song Girls of Shanghai

Starting out as a serial in an 1890s Shanghainese magazine, yet remaining unpublished until 2005 following the discovery of its English translation among the belongings of the late Eileen Chang, The Sing-Song Girls of Shanghai is an unparalleled historical classic set in the pleasure quarters of the Qing Dynasty. Unlike the hyper-erotic writings of Li Yu and Lanling Xiaoxiao Sheng, the author, Bangqing Han, opted for a tempered realism unique for its period. Clocking in at 600 pages, and densely layered with multiple character arcs that are a bit difficult to keep track of, Sing-Song Girls may require more than one reading.

The Sing-Song Girls of Shanghai

By Bangqing Han,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sing-Song Girls of Shanghai as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Desire, virtue, courtesans (also known as sing-song girls), and the denizens of Shanghai's pleasure quarters are just some of the elements that constitute Han Bangqing's extraordinary novel of late imperial China. Han's richly textured, panoramic view of late-nineteenth-century Shanghai follows a range of characters from beautiful sing-song girls to lower-class prostitutes and from men in positions of social authority to criminals and ambitious young men recently arrived from the country. Considered one of the greatest works of Chinese fiction, The Sing-song Girls of Shanghai is now available for the first time in English. Neither sentimental nor sensationalistic in its portrayal…


Red Lights

By Tiantian Zheng,

Book cover of Red Lights: The Lives of Sex Workers in Postsocialist China

Whilst studying in the U.S. in the early-2000s, Tiantian Zheng decided to return to her home city of Dalian, in northeast China, to embed herself for over two years with sex workers at local karaoke parlors. There, she witnessed, and at times personally endured, all manner of customer abuse, police crackdowns, government corruption, and catty relationships between hostesses, while somehow managing to keep copious secret notes for her ethnographic fieldwork (which eventually became Red Lights). It is an eye-opening but purely academic text, not a mass-market page-turner, which will primarily be of interest only to those of us researching socioeconomic conditions in China.

Red Lights

By Tiantian Zheng,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Red Lights as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In China today, sex work cannot be untangled from the phenomenon of rural-urban migration, the entertainment industry, and state power. In Red Lights, Tiantian Zheng highlights the urban karaoke bar as the locus at which these three factors intersect and provides a rich account of the lives of karaoke hostesses-a career whose name disguises the sex work and minimizes the surprising influence these women often have as power brokers.

Zheng embarked on two years of intensely embedded ethnographic fieldwork in her birthplace, Dalian, a large northeastern Chinese seaport of over six million people. During this time, Zheng lived and worked…


Northern Girls

By Keyi Sheng,

Book cover of Northern Girls

A post-70s generation Chinese authoress who capitalized on the big international book deals cleared for her by the commercial success of Shanghai Baby and Beijing Doll, and who likewise has developed an unsavory reputation among Communist authorities, Sheng Keyi has published many heralded (and banned) books. But her crowning achievement is 2012’s Northern Girls, about young female migrant workers who leave the countryside for the big city but fall into the trappings of prostitution. Unlike the memoirs penned by her counterparts, this is an obviously fictional story that falls under the sub-genre of “magical realism”. I’d suggest reading alongside Lijia Zhang’s Lotus (an acclaimed yet in my opinion far less fun read) also on sex workers in modern China.

Northern Girls

By Keyi Sheng,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Northern Girls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Qian Xiaohong is born in a sleepy Hunan village, where the new China rush toward development is a distant rumor. A buxom, naïve 16-year-old, she joins the mass migration to the boomtown of Shenzhen where she navigates dangerous encounters with ruthless bosses, jealous wives, sympathetic hookers and corrupt policemen. Moving through a grinding succession of dead end jobs, Xiaohong finds solace in her close ties with her fellow "northern girls," who quickly learn to rely on each other for humor and the enjoyment of life's simple pleasures. This coming-of-age novel explores the inner lives of a generation of young, rural…


Whispers and Moans

By Yeeshan Yang,

Book cover of Whispers and Moans: Interviews with the Men and Women of Hong Kong's Sex Industry

The definitive sociological examination of prostitution in contemporary Hong Kong, Yeeshan Yang spent one year – out of plain curiosity – alongside the city’s sex workers, listening to their stories of how they arrived there, how they spend their days/nights, and what becomes of them when they leave the trade. These humanizing case studies provide separate yet occasionally intersecting profiles of female streetwalkers and club hostesses, as well as male prossies and pimps, and their sometimes sad, sometimes funny, tales of the world’s oldest profession in the Orient. Whispers and Moans was also adapted (by Yang) into a 2007 film by the famed Cat-III Hong Kong director Herman Yau.

Whispers and Moans

By Yeeshan Yang,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Whispers and Moans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With glitzy nightclubs, saunas, karaoke lounges and brothels, Hong Kong's sex business is booming. But how do local prostitutes compete with an endless supply of girls from China? To find out, Yang spent a year with the city's hookers. The result is an eye-opening book which shows the human side of sex for sale - easy money, financial ruin and hopeless relationships - and first-hand insights into the huge but hidden sex industry.


Noble House

By James Clavell,

Book cover of Noble House

Incredible character development, fascinating history, and a story that takes place in one week, yet has enough action and details to fill several years. [This book is what inspired me to incorporate dates and/or times/locations in my chapter headings.] The story is set in Hong Kong in the early 1960s and the author’s understanding of the culture clash between the British who think they are in control and the Chinese who are using them, while making plans for their inevitable exit.

Noble House

By James Clavell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Noble House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Taking place over the course of an eventful week in 1963 Hong Kong, James Clavell’s Noble House is a masterfully woven novel of true suspense.

Ian Dunross, the current tai-pan of the illustrious yet financially troubled Struan empire, is racing to undo the damage his predecessor left behind and to once again stand on stable ground. And he’ll do whatever it takes—including striking a hard-fought deal with an American millionaire. But his rival, Quillan Gornt, has other plans. Suddenly caught in a dubious plot involving Soviet spies, Hong Kong’s criminal underground, and the hostile takeover of his company, Dunross holds…


The Master of Rain

By Tom Bradby,

Book cover of The Master of Rain

The setting is Shanghai, China in 1926. A mysterious city full of expatriates. One of the most beautiful is Natasha Medvedev, a former aristocrat in Russia who fled the revolution and now finds herself in the circle of a notorious drug lord. Her neighbor is murdered and suddenly she’s dealing with expats in the local police force like Caprisi, a tough Chicago cop, and a young Englishman named Fields who will fall in love with her, putting both in peril. This is a mystery, a love story, and perhaps most of all, a fresco of words illuminating a place and time that will be forever engraved in the reader’s memory.

The Master of Rain

By Tom Bradby,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Master of Rain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shanghai, 1926: a sultry city lousy with opium, warlords, and corruption at the highest levels. Into this steamy morass walks Richard Field, an idealistic Brit haunted by his past and recently appointed to the international police. He’s not there long before called to the flat of a Russian prostitute, former daughter of privilege found sadistically murdered, handcuffed to her bed. When he discovers among her possessions a cryptic shipping log, he senses that this murder is more than a random crime of perverse passion. What unfolds is a searing story that propels Field into a confrontation with the city’s most…


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