Sunday, 2 October 2016

Social Sunday

Sundays used to be for lounging with the papers, now they are just as likely for lounging with iPads. So if you're lazily clicking around looking for something to read, here are a few suggestions, focussing on what's going on lit-wise in Asia.

Seen online around the region

Twitter and blog spots.
Each Sunday I suggest a Twitter account you may like to follow, and a blog I find interesting – either about books, or about Asia, or both.

Twitter spot
Words Without Borders, @wwborders. Words Without Borders is 
an online magazine for international literature. For the magazine click here. This month’s edition: Multilingual Singapore. Check it out!

Blog spot
OUPblog. Oxford University Press’s ever-interesting insights for the thinking world, including a fascinating language page.   

It’s somewhat late to be mentioning this, but back in July, Kim Behrens an Associate Marketing Manager at OUP, provided OUPblog with her recommendations for books on Thailand and Cambodia.  I now reproduce her list here, with thanks to both Kim and to OUPblog.

A Field Guide to the Reptiles of Thailand, by Tanya Chanard, Jarujin Nabhitabhata, and John W. K. Parr
Meet the (mostly) friendly local reptiles! Thailand is home to over 350 reptiles, and not all of them are snakes. It’s one of the most ecologically diverse countries, though many species are under threat. Understand Thailand’s fascinating nature and see who you can spot on your travels.

The Shadow Line, by Joseph Conrad, edited by Jeremy Hawthorn
The Shadow Line forms part of Joseph Conrad’s Bangkok trilogy (the other two being Falk and The Secret Sharer), and tells the story of a young captain who takes command in Bangkok, where he deals with a malaria-stricken crew, and confronts calms that threaten his ship, crew, and reason. The events are based on Conrad’s own experiences and describe events to which he returned repeatedly in his work.

You can't visit Bangkok without scheduling a visit to Wat Pho and the amazing temple complex of Angkor Wat is the main reason to visit  Siem Reap (Initially built as a Hindu centre of worship, the name means "kill the Thai", reflecting the long history between Thailand and Cambodia.) Amongst other things, this book will help you understand the wats. 

The Face of the Buddha, by William Empson, edited by Rupert Arrowsmith
After moving to Japan in 1931, William Empson found himself captivated by Buddhist sculptures and spent years travelling across Asia discovering various depictions. He meticulously collected his findings but was left heartbroken when he mislaid the only copy of the manuscript following the Second World War. It was rediscovered only recently and has now been published for the first time.

Cambodia has a difficult recent history, and is slowly recovering from the devastation and loss of lives under the Khmer Rouge regime, which was only removed in 1979. This book offers an inside look at the Communist experience, and how people lived their everyday lives.

Survivor, by Chum Mey
The sobering account of one of the few survivors of the Tuol Sleng prison (S-21) in Phnom Penh. Chum Mey now spends his days at the prison, which is preserved as a genocide museum, to talk to visitors about his experience and survival – a living reminder of the country’s past.

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