Monday, 24 September 2018

Indie spotlight dual edition: (2) Understanding how to market on Amazon

Indie spotlight focusses on self-published authors and self-publishing. Here, in the second of today’s Indie spotlight dual edition, Ilan Nass, from Taktical Digital in New York City, gives general advice on how sellers can maximise sales through Amazon. Indie authors can adapt this advice to suit their own aim: selling books.

Indie spotlight dual edition: (1) Christie Dao on Actualize Your Dreams

Indie spotlight focusses on self-published authors and self-publishing. Here, in the first of today’s Indie spotlight dual edition, Christie Dao, a Vietnamese-American now based in Singapore, explains how she came to publish her inspirational book, Actualize Your Dreams, and why it was important fo her to work with an Asian-American editor.

Christie Dao was born in Vietnam and moved to the United States as a 12-year-old. After graduating high school and gaining a full-tuition scholarship, Christie finished her bachelor’s degree one year ahead of schedule. After earning her master's degree, she relocated to Singapore as an employee of Intel Asia Pacific. She has lived and worked in Singapore for the last 18 years.

Actualize Your Dreams: from wishful thinking to reality is Christie’s self-portrait of growing up in an Asian household in the United States. It charts her determination to achieve and obtain her personal education and career goals from her teenage years until today. Learning English and the cultural norms Americans take for granted were just two of the stumbling blocks she encountered as a new immigrant to America. But she overcame the barriers, and her life came full-circle when her career brought her back to Asia, the continent she left as a 12-year-old.

So, over to Christie…

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

On translation by Nicky Harman

Spot the authors: Jia Pingwa, Mo Yan and Tie Ning are in the front row. Also in the picture are Alai, Yu Hua, Lu Min and many many others.

A MIXED BAG OF CHINESE AUTHORS AND TRANSLATORS, Guiyang, 2018
Nicky Harman reports on a meeting of minds.

The International Sinologists Conference on Translating Chinese Literature (汉学家文学翻译国际研讨会FISCTCL) brings authors from all over China and translators from all over the world, to a different venue in China every two years. This year, we were in Guiyang, China, for the fifth biennial conference. Despite the unwieldy title and even more unwieldy acronym, it is an extremely enjoyable event, one of a kind, giving translators a chance to meet and bend the ear of their authors (or people whom they would like to translate) and giving authors the chance to learn more about the process of translation and the promotion of their works overseas. FISCTCL is run by the China Writers Association (CWA), who have done a brilliant job over the last decade adapting the initially rather formal conference format, to the quirky demands of a bunch of maverick, enthusiastic and creative translators! The upshot is that for the last two FISCTCLs, we have spent most of the two days in discussion groups of about twenty. Depending on the mood and composition of the group, individuals can either give a presentation they have prepared in advance or have a free discussion.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Lion City lit: Inez Tan launches her debut short story collection



This Is Where I Won’t Be Alone: Stories launched in Singapore this weekend at Kinokuniya’s main store. Carissa Foo, who wrote If It Were Up to Mrs Dada (Epigram Books, 2018) led a discussion with the collection’s author, Inez Tan.

Inez spoke about the inspiration for the first two stories in the anthology, “Edison and Curie,” and “Oyster”. “Edison and Curie,” is about a pair of twins who differ greatly in their academic aptitude. The story is psychologically complex, exploring different aspects of identity, success, and coming of age. Inez explained that this story was born from a “collision” of different experiences and ideas. In particular, she spoke of Einstein’s famous twin paradox as an initial catalyst for the creation of “Edison and Curie”. The next story in the collection, “Oyster,” is grounded in a more personal experience. Inez began writing it after her mother gifted her some dried oysters to take back to the United States. Although “Oyster” was inspired by a real-world incident, the story itself brings us out of reality and into the imaginary realm of an oyster’s thoughts. The oyster arrives into a family fridge, and its unfamiliarity with our world gives us an interesting perspective on human relationships.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Review: Labyrinth of the Past by Zhang Yiwei



While I was in Shanghai, I stumbled across a series oftranslated Chinese fiction, headlined as Stories by Contemporary Writers from Shanghai and published jointly by Better Link Press (New York) and Shanghai Press and Publishing Development Company.  The editor of the series is Wang Jiren. His Foreword stated that the series comprises writers who are immigrants to Shanghai, but most were born in the city from a period encompassing the late 1940s to the 1980s, and includes well-known writers such as Wang Anyi, Xiao Bai and Sun Ganlu, but also features young emerging writers such as Zhang Yiwei, whose short story collection, Labyrinth of the Past (2015) is reviewed here.

From age 5 to 22, Zhang Yiwei grew up in Tianlin, a neighbourhood in Xuhui District, southwest Shanghai. The seven bittersweet nostalgic stories in this collection describe a childhood in Tianlin and the bordering town of Xiaozha that were undergoing rapid transformation and industrialisation in the '80s, from farmlands to organised apartment complexes for factory workers. This changing landscape evokes the lives of Chinese workers, tinged sometimes with desolation, anonymity, and a deep sense of loss. Zhang Yiwei’s collection is particularly noteworthy for its observation of details both past and current, and for its angle of approach – these are stories about young women of the ‘80s and ‘90s growing up raised by single mothers. The broken family connections echo the breaking up of landscape, all in the name of progress, but the stories seem to whisper: at what cost?

Friday, 14 September 2018

Student bookshelf: Review and analysis of A Pearl in the Forest


Aurelia Paul recently graduated from Boston University, where she was studying comparative literature and Chinese. In her column Student bookshelf, she shares responses to materials she has explored in her classes.

Today, Aurelia will be discussing a Mongolian film that came out in 2008, Enkhtaivan Agvaantseren’s A Pearl in the Forest.

The Buryat People and Historical Background

This work comments on the persecution of Buryat refugees in Mongolia in the 1930s. The Buryats are the dominant ethnic minority group that lives in Siberia. They speak their own language, also called Buryat. This language is similar to Mongolian and uses the Cyrillic script. Buryats, like Mongols, traditionally live nomadically in gers. However, because of close contact with Russia, some Buryat settlements have become agricultural. People living in these settlements often reside in Russian-style wooden houses, which can be seen in the film. 

In 1923 the Soviet administration created the Buryat-Mongol Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic within the Union. However, Stalin was alarmed by the possibility of Soviet resistance from the Buryat community, and so ordered a campaign against them. Thousands of people died as a result of this ethnic violence, and numerous Buddhist sites of worship were destroyed.

Buddhist Pilgrim-Monks as Agents of Cultural and Artistic Transmission. Guest post by Dorothy Wong

Dorothy C. Wong is Professor of Art and Director of the East Asian Center at the University of Virginia. She has published Chinese Steles: Pre-Buddhist and Buddhist Use of a Symbolic Form (2004; Chinese edition 2011), Hōryūji Reconsidered (editor and contributing author, 2008), and China and Beyond in the Mediaeval Period: Cultural Crossings and Inter-regional Connections (co-editor with Gustav Heldt, and contributing author, 2014). Her most recent book is Buddhist Pilgrim-Monks as Agents of Cultural and Artistic Transmission: The International Buddhist Art Style in East Asia, ca. 645-770.

In the mid-seventh century, a class of Buddhist pilgrim-monks disseminated an art style in China, Japan, and Korea that was uniform in both iconography and formal properties. Traveling between the courts and religious centers of the region, these pilgrim-monks played a powerful role in this proto-cosmopolitanism, promulgating what came to be known as the International Buddhist Art Style.    

Buddhist Pilgrim-Monks as Agents of Cultural and Artistic Transmission: The International Buddhist Art Style in East Asia, ca. 645-770 investigates the formation and circulation of an East Asian International Buddhist Art Style by focusing on the role played by Buddhist missionaries and pilgrim-monks as agents of cultural and artistic transmissions.

So, over to Dorothy...