Friday, 30 November 2018

Indie spotlight: Remembering Shanghai by Claire Chao

Indie spotlight focuses on self-publishing and indie authors.

Hawaii-based, Hong-Kong-born Claire Chao is the co-author, with her mother Isabel Sun Chao, of Remembering Shanghai: A Memoir of Socialites, Scholars and Scoundrels, published by the indie publisher, Plum Brook.

Remembering Shanghai follows five generations of the Chao family over two centuries, from the time of Claire's great-great-grandfather down to the present. Mother and daughter traced their family story as far back as they could. Claire's great-great-grandfather rose from poverty to become a minister to the empress dowager, and built a large portfolio comprising hundreds of properties, a bank and a shipping company.

Isabel Sun Chao, the memoir's main protagonist, grew up the third daughter among six siblings in glamorous 1930s and ’40s Shanghai - everyone’s favorite child, cosseted by servants, wet nurses, cooks, drivers, even a resident tailor.

Soon after Mao came to power in 1949, Isabel journeyed to Hong Kong. Clutching a pink suitcase packed with party dresses to wear on her spring holiday, she didn’t realize that she would never see her father, or her grandmother, again. Claire accompanied her to Shanghai nearly 60 years later to confront her family’s past, one that they would together discover to be by turns harrowing and heartwarming.

Claire here discusses why she and her mother decided to write a family memoir, and gives advice to other indie authors.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Indie spotlight: Inspiration from Onnagatta and Onna bugeisha

Indie spotlight focuses on self-publishing and indie authors.

K. Bird Lincoln, an American, now lives in the Midwest, but she has previously lived in Japan.  She is the author of the medieval Japanese fantasy series, Tiger Lily, which explores the gender-bending lives of rebellious girls living during a period of Japanese history relatively little-known in the West.

Here, K. Bird Lincoln talks to Alexa Kang about Onnagatta and Onna bugeisha, gender-fluid Japanese who inspired her character, Tiger Lily.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Backlist books: The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore

Backlist books is a column by Lucy Day Hobor that focuses on enduring, important works from or about Asia.

This post is about The Home and the World, a novel originally published as Ghare Baire in Bengali in 1916. Its author, Rabindranath Tagore, was born in Kolkata, British India. He was a wealthy, well-travelled Bengali writer best known for the poetry collection Gitanjali. In 1913 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

An internationally known literary and artistic man from a wealthy, socially active family owning extensive lands in what is now Bangladesh, Tagore was anti-imperialist yet ultimately rejected the nationalist Swadeshi movement, which promoted production and exclusive consumption of local goods. The Home and the World reflects the author’s mixed feelings on the subject.

See below to find out what you need to know to decide whether you should read The Home and the World, or what you should know about it even if you never do!

Friday, 16 November 2018

Obituary for Louis Cha, by John Minford

Louis Cha, or Zha Liangyong, (查良鏞), pen-name Jin Yong (金庸), OBE, Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, novelist, journalist, entrepreneur and public figure, was born 10th March 1924, Haining County, Zhejiang Province, China, and died 30th October 2018, Hong Kong.

Between 1997 and 2002, John Minford, now Emeritus Professor of Chinese at the Australian National University, brought out a three-volume translation of Cha's The Deer and the Cauldron, with Oxford University Press Hong Kong (OUP HK). Now OUP UK has published it in the UK.  John here provides an obituary for Louis Cha.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

BALESTIER PRESS, THE ART OF IDEAS — IN TRANSLATION



You think being a small indie publisher is challenging? Then trying being a small indie publisher who focuses on translations from Chinese! Today, Nicky Harman interviews Roh-Suan Tung, of Balestier Press, about what propelled him into publishing, his favourite books and his hopes for the future.

Founded in 2013, Balestier Press is an independent publisher of Asian literature and books related to Asia, including novels, essays and picture books, for children, young adults and adults. Balestier aims to provide a diverse platform for the different voices in Asia by publishing the best and most innovative Asian literature. Director Roh-Suan Tung says: “We hope to promote a greater cultural understanding and awareness of Asia, to tell the story of an evolving Asia through its people, culture, literature and artistic expressions."

NH Can you tell me how and why you got into publishing? I understand you came from a science background.
RT 
I started by publishing newsletters on media freedom in Taiwan in the 80s. I then became a theoretical physicist and served as editor for international journals and academic publishing for a few years. I enjoyed exploring the frontiers of physics and our understanding of the cosmos, and I appreciate the value of science, but I’ve always felt the need for more English-language publications in literary arts and humanities. Partly because I’ve lived in quite a few major cities in the east and the west.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Circumstance / A Yellow House

If you're in Singapore do come along to the Asia launch of Circumstance by Rosie Milne, editor of Asian Books Blog, at the Singapore Writers Festival.

Circumstance is launching alongside A Yellow House  by Karien Van Ditzhuijzen.

Details: Sunday 11 Nov, 3.30 pm, the Arts House. See you here, I hope!!

Friday, 2 November 2018

A Death in Peking. Guest post from Graeme Sheppard

The brutal murder of 19-year-old Pamela Werner in Peking one night in January 1937 shocked the world, and the police never named the murderer. The best-selling book Midnight in Peking, by Paul French, declared the perpetrator to be an American dentist, but Graeme Sheppard, a retired British policeman with 30 years’ service in the UK, with the  Metropolitan Police, decided that conclusion was flawed. After spending years investigating the case, he came up with an entirely different conclusion. So who did it? Who killed Pamela?

Over to Graeme...