Sunday 31 January 2016

The Sunday Post

A rojak* of items that caught my eye this week…

Lion City Lit
Asian Books Blog is based in Singapore, the Lion City.  Here’s a sampler of what’s going on, locally:

Singapore Literature Prize: The Singapore Literature Prize 2016, to be awarded in July, has seen a big jump in the number of submissions. See here for coverage in The Straits Times.

Swag, Singapore’s newest literary journal, has gone live online.  See here for the inaugural edition.

Jaipur Literary Festival
The Jaipur Literary Festival 2016 closed on Tuesday.  See the festival's Facebook page for an overview of what went on.

Quick notice
Points of Origin, an anthology of short stories by Diao Dou, translated from Chinese by Brendan O'Kane.

About the book: Diao Dou’s short stories encompass everything from closely observed social realism to surrealist parody, and back again. Covering all aspects of modern Chinese life – from the high-minded morals of an emerging middle class, to the vividly remembered hardships of an all-too-recent collectivist past – these stories offer a window into the contemporary Chinese psyche, and show a culture struggling to keep pace with the extraordinary transformations that have occurred within it in the space of a single lifetime.

Stories include those in which:

A letter-writing campaign goes awry when a law is passed that only allows people to walk the streets at night, if they maintain a squatting position at all times...

A town is overrun with cockroaches; despite the government’s official expressions of concern, the only person doing anything about it is branded an agitator...

A widower is forced to move into the city to live with his son, bringing his cat and his strange country ways with him...

About the author: Diao Dou is wildly regarded as one of China’s leading satirists, praised for his refusal to follow any of the numerous literary trends that often dominate the Chinese literary scene.

About the translator: Brendan O’Kane spent a decade in Beijing, working mostly as a freelance translator and the co-host of the Mandarin-learning podcast Popup Chinese.

Details: published by Comma Press, in paperback and eBook, priced in local currencies.

Review: See the review by Peter Gordon for Asian Review of Books here.

Book of the Lunar Year
Asian Books Blog is running a poll to find readers’ choice for the Book of the Lunar Year. For details of the shortlist, and of how to vote, see here. I’ve been giving weekly updates of how the voting is going. For the second week running The Boy with a Bamboo Heart, by Chantal Jauvin with Dr Amporn Wathanavongs, is in the lead, although Tales of Two Cities, an anthology of short stories from Singapore and Hong Kong is making a late strong showing. Voting closes a week today: February 7, Chinese New Year’s Eve for the upcoming Year of the Monkey, when the winner will also be announced.

Twitter spot 
Each week I make a suggestion of an interesting Twitter account you may like to follow.  This week, @llewelyn_morgan, from Llewelyn Morgan, author of The Buddhas of Bamiyan, the story of the two colossal statues which stood in what is now Afghanistan for over 1,500 years, until the Taliban destroyed them.

*A rojak is a Singaporean salad. Like Asian Books Blog on Facebook, or follow it on Twitter.