Ilija Trojanow (2006)
An emigrant from Cold War Bulgaria now living in Cape Town, Trojanow brings a pan-religious enthusiasm to his writings on Asia, and in his journey from the Ganges's source to the chaotic cities along its course, he treats the river and its Hindu devotees with fascination, respect, and an eye for detail. Nominated by Nuruddin Farah (Haus Publishers, $20).
Wilfred Thesiger (1959)
Born in Ethiopia to a British diplomat, the writer-explorer was disenchanted with the West and spent five years traveling among the bedouins of southern Arabia, detailing their disappearing way of life. For his dedication and his eloquence, Paul Theroux puts him "on my classics list" (Penguin, $15).
An Area of Darkness
V. S. Naipaul (1965)
This is old-school Naipaul—the Subcontinental chronicle that made his name and expertly defined the India of the early sixties (even the writer's former protégé turned nemesis Paul Theroux confesses admiration). Linh Dinh calls it "penetrating, taut, and funny," with the caveat that "the only flaw with Naipaul is the fact that he does not drink alcohol, which curtails his access to many social situations" (Vintage, $14)."