Sunday 10 November 2013

Festival Book Launches

As discussed in the last two posts, both Hong Kong and Singapore hosted literary festivals running Nov 1- Nov 10.  In each city, local publishers took the chance to launch new books. Here's my selection of three interesting-looking titles from each festival.

Launched at The Singapore Writers Festival

Princess Play / Barbara Ismail / published by Monsoon:

New Yorker Barbara Imail spent several years in Kelantan, Malaysia in the 1970s and 1980s, living in Kg Dusun and Pengkalan Cepa, studying Wayang Siam (Malay shadow puppetry) in the Kelantan dialect. The first book in her Kain Songket Mysteries series, Shadow Play, follows the middle-aged sleuth Mak Cik Maryam as she investigates a murder in Kelantan. In this second mystery, Princess Play, Mak Cik Maryam unravels a knot of family secrets, madness, and familiar spirits to solve the murder of a market woman.

The Last Lesson Of Mrs De Souza / Cyril Wong / published by Epigram

Cyril Wong is the Singapore Literature Prize-winning author of several poetry collections. The Last Lesson Of Mrs De Souza is his first novel. After a long career of teaching secondary school boys, this is Mrs De Souza's final lesson before retiring - and one that turns into a confession about a former student who overturned the way she saw herself as a teacher, and changed her life forever. 

Island of Silence / Su Wei-chen, translated by Jeremy Tiang / published by Ethos Books

Taiwanese Su Wei-chen is a professor of Chinese literature at National Cheng Kung University. This is the first English translation of her modern classic, originally published as 沈默之島 in 1994. In Island of Silence Chen-mian, a young woman with a troubled background, can’t bear the reality of her life, and creates an idealised fantasy existence: "the other Chen-mian" is a happily-married woman with a stable family. Chen-mian is obsessed with islands. She travels to Hong Kong, Bali and Singapore, trying to find a secure hiding place. The lives of the two Chen-mians become more surreal and intertwined, and it becomes difficult to tell where reality ends and fantasy begins. 

Launched at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival

Hong Kong’s Back Yard: A Guide to the Pearl River Delta / Tom Bird / published by Make Do Publishing

Despite the integration of Hong Kong and the cities of the Pearl River Delta (PRD), the PRD remains mysterious to many, even in Hong Kong. The new travel guide Hong Kong’s Back Yard: A Guide to the Pearl River Delta introduces some of the hidden gems of the PRD: from surfer beaches, to artists’ villages, Ming dynasty fortresses to ancestral temples, hiking trails to archipelagos of hidden islands, and much more. It is suitable both for locals and for visitors to Hong Kong with a day or two to spare for exploration.

Vivid Hong KongPalani Mohan / Asia One Books

Vivid Hong Kong is a colourful look at daily life in Hong Kong, as captured on an iPhone camera. Photographer Palani Mohan roamed the streets in all weathers and seasons to compile his personal take on the city. By forgoing traditional photographic equipment, Mohan was able to make his way through the crowds unobtrusively, capturing the everyday, fleeting moments that define the soul of Hong Kong in their purest state and their most evocative and dream-like form.

In The Shadow Of The Noonday Gun / Mike Smith / Self-published

In his first book, former policeman Mike Smith unveils Hong Kong's seedy past under colonial rule, by recounting true tales of corruption and sex, including some gathered from the gambling syndicates typical of the less than salubrious side of Hong Kong. This is Hong Kong noir at its noir-est!