Thursday, 17 October 2019

Shanghai After Pearl Harbour


Indie spotlight focusses on self-published authors and self-publishing. Alexa Kang is a Boston-based, Chinese-American author. She publishes her World War II historical fiction trilogy, Shanghai Story, through her own house, Lakewood Press. Alexa has previously shared her experiences writing the first two of these books with Asian Books Blog readers. Today is the publication day of the third and final book in the series, Shanghai Yesterday.


Shanghai Yesterday follows Clark Yuan, the Western-educated son of a prominent Chinese family in Shanghai and former a KMT operative, as he joins the Chinese secret police’s underground resistance movement. The story also continues with Eden Levine, a Jewish refugee from Munich, as she and the Western press in Shanghai work to expose the atrocities committed by Germany and Japan to the world.

Alexa will here discuss a little bit about her trilogy, followed by a more detailed examination of the Jewish and immigrant experience in occupied Shanghai after 1941.
So, over to Alexa...

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Lion City Lit by Ken Hickson


This month, our regular column Lion City Lit unearths a new word – an acronym really - to collectively bring together what’s going on in Singapore. Literally. Ken Hickson reports…

You’ve heard of Ab-Fab, we’ve got AB-CAB!


Beyond Authors and Books as objects of pleasure and learning, we’ve uncovered haunts for writers – Cafes – so when you put all that into a literary melting-pot with Awards and Bookstores,  AB-CAB emerges!

Come along for a ride in the Lion City:

A is for Authors, first and foremost: Who’s in the news?

How about home-grown Simon Vincent? A multi-media journalist who’s come up with a first  - the extremely creative non-fiction work, The Naysayers Book Club, walking off with the Book of the Year at the Singapore Book Publishers Association annual industry awards. (This could of course come under B for Books and A for Awards too, but we’ll try not to repeat ourselves.) 

We first met Simon when he played the role of moderator with four young women authors at an Epigram event a couple of months’ back. We’ve read the book and found it totally engaging.  Real insight into people who matter in Singapore. What’s next Simon?

Friday, 11 October 2019

Breaking News: Chapter 5 of Teika’s Tale of Genji found!



Tale of Genji, known in Japanese as Genji montagari is commonly acknowledged to be the world’s earliest novel. This 54-chapter masterpiece was written in Heian Japan around the year 1010. Its author is a woman, Murasaki Shikibu.

No one knows what happened to the original manuscript of The Tale of Genji. This loss has led many scholars across time to try and reconstruct the original version. One such scholar was Fujiwara no Teika, who lived from approximately 1160 to 1240. (The Fujiwara clan was a powerful family group with strong political and artistic influence in the Heian period.) Teika published a work that was comprised of the first 5 chapters of Tale of Genji, written by comparing multiple surviving copies in order to attain the highest possible level of accuracy. This work, called the Aobyoshibon, which translates as blue cover book, is the earliest known partial copy of The Tale of Genji.

Until a few days ago, we only had the first four chapters of Teika’s version, and the Aobyoshibon was incomplete. However, newspapers in Japan have reported that the 5th chapter has been found and authenticated! It was found in a storeroom chest in the home of 72-year-old Tokyo resident Motofuyu Okochi. Chapter 5 of the work, the Wakamurasaki chapter, contains a crucial moment in the novel when the protagonist, Genji, first encounters his future wife Murasaki. (You may have noticed that the author and the heroine have the same name. We actually do not know the real name of lady Murasaki Shikibu, and it is thought that she chose this sobriquet based on the character of her creation. Murasaki in Japanese means violet.)

Scholars who have examined the newly-found chapter say that it does not differ substantially from later copies, however there are some grammatical inconsistencies. Nevertheless, the discovery of this document marks the addition of a globally significant literary artefact to the existing corpus of Heian period texts. At the time of writing, it is unclear what will happen to the manuscript, whether it will remain under private guardianship or be transferred to a public space.

If you are interested in The Tale of Genji scholarship, this post looks at gender representation in chapters 9 and 24 of the novel: http://www.asianbooksblog.com/2018/04/student-bookshelf-tale-of-genji.html


Friday, 4 October 2019

East Asian Winners of the Nobel Prize


The excitement is building as the Nobel Prize announcement day draws near.  2019 is a unique year for the Nobel Committee, as they will be giving out this year’s and last year’s prizes. People in the literary world are buzzing about who the literature laureates will be, although the literature prize is usually one whose winner is hard to predict. If one of the two authors is Asian, they will be the 9th Asian winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, and the 6th East Asian winner.

Awards are about recognition of achievement, recognition that shouldn’t be limited only to the window of time surrounding the ceremony. With this in mind, let’s look back at the 5 East Asian Nobel literature laureates and their works.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Tsundoku #8


We are into Autumn and you seriously need to deal with your towering tsundoku pile (even the New Yorker says so!). Get that pile down so that you can go out to a bookshop and rebuild it again. And so issue #8 of Tsundoku – a column by me, Paul French,  starting with some new fiction...


Sunday, 29 September 2019

Indie Spotlight - Myanmar - A Daughter's Promise - Ann Bennett


In my first blog post as Indie Spotlight contributor, I wrote about The Foundling’s Daughter, set partly in India in the days of the British Raj. This was my first foray into self-publishing. Since publishing the book through my own Andaman Press in December 2018, I’ve learned marketing through trial and error and the book has been more successful than I could have hoped – staying in the top 10 of Historical Asian fiction category on Amazon.co.uk, and the top 20 in the same chart on Amazon.com. Sales have tailed off lately, but have led to a two-book publishing deal with mainstream digital publisher  Bookouture. The book will be published (freshly edited and under a new title – yet to be revealed) for pre-order in December 2019, publication date February 2020.

Friday, 27 September 2019

Guest post: Michael Wert

Michael Wert is Associate Professor of East Asian History at Marquette University in Wisconsin. Specializing in early modern and modern Japan, he is the author of Meiji Restoration Losers: Memory and Tokugawa Supporters in Modern Japan.

Michael has just brought out Samurai, a lively and approachable introduction to the warrior class and its influence on Japan which traces the history of the samurai until their disappearance, and explores their roles in watershed events such as Japan’s invasions of Korea at the close of the sixteenth century. Samurai gives readers access to the real samurai as they lived, fought, and served. It also critiques the role of the samurai in media and pop culture, dispelling many myths along the way.

So, over to Michael...

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

The History of a Place in a Single Object, with Multiple Variations

Nicky Harman looks at translating tools, and it's more fascinating than you'd think.

It’s not often that I, as a translator, get to do research on the place where a particular author’s novels are set. In fact my recent visit, with Dylan King, to Shaanxi province to Jia Pingwa to look at where his novels Shaanxi Opera (AmazonCrossing, forthcoming) and Broken Wings (ACA, 2019) were set, was a first. We arrived with a list of questions of the ‘What does that tool do?’ and ‘What kind of a gate entrance is that?’ variety. We were primarily motivated by wanting to get the words right in translation. But it led Dylan and me into discussing the wonderful BBC/British Museum radio series, the History of the World in a Hundred Objects, and what follows is (with apologies to Neal MacGregor) a small meditation on what a particular tool can tell us about a place and how people live there.

The tool: a stone object in two parts that grinds up grain and spices, and produces soybean milk from the raw beans. There are two variations:  nian3pan2, also known as碌碡liu4zhou, consisting of a base stone and a cylindrical roller; and 石磨shi2mo4 or mo4pan2, made up of磨扇mo4shan1two circular stones, one atop the other, the bedstone (下扇) which stays stilland the upper stone (上扇) which moves around. In both versions, the top part is pushed around by a human or a beast. At least that’s what used to happen.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Guest post: John D. Greenwood

John D. Greenwood is a Scot now transplanted to America. He began his career teaching philosophy, including a stint at the National University of Singapore, but he has since become an historian of psychology. He is currently in the midst of writing a projected six-part series, Singapore Saga, which will, when completed, offer a fictionalised overview of the first hundred years of modern Singapore's existence, from its founding by Raffles in 1819, to the aftermath of World War One, in 1919.

Volume 1, Forbidden Hill, published in 2017, covers 1819 to the mid 1830s. It features multiple plotlines rooted in historical events, and multiple characters - European, Chinese, Indian and Malay.

Volume 2, Chasing the Dragon, covers 1834-1854, and continues to portray the lives of the early pioneers of the expanding port city. It also extends to Borneo and China, encompassing the careers of James Brooke, the White Rajah of Sarawak, and of Hong Xiuquan, the failed scholar who dreams he is the second son of the Christian God and launches the Taiping Rebellion.

So, over to John, to talk about Chasing the Dragon

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Ryuko by Eldo Yoshimizu: Femme Fatales, International Intrigue, Organized Crime, and Lots of Guns


As this is my first blog post as a regular contributor, I thought I’d change it up from my other articles – Researching Historical Japan & Researching Old Shanghai. I will continue to write about Asian history, but for now, I’d like to talk about a piece of contemporary Japanese fiction.


Friday, 13 September 2019

Guest post: Jonathan Chatwin


Jonathan Chatwin writes on travel, culture and history with a particular focus on China. His first book, Anywhere Out of the World, was a literary biography of the travel writer and novelist Bruce Chatwin. His essays and articles have been published by the British Film Institute, the South China Morning Post, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Caixin, Studies in Travel Writing and the Asian Review of Books amongst others, and he now writes regularly on Chinese history and culture for a range of publications.

Jonathan's new book, Long Peace Street, intertwines travel and history to tell the story along the so-called Number One Street of China, Chang'an Jie, or the eponymous Long Peace Street, which bisects China's capital, Beijing, and which he walked from end to end.

Here, Jonathan introduces both his book and the street, and explains what inspired his walk.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Leland Cheuk talks to Elaine Chiew about No Good Very Bad Asian, doing stand-up, and why he started 7.13 Books

Courtesy Leland Cheuk



Reading a book that hits hard but also keeps you rolling around in laughter is, to quote Seneca, a res severa est verum gaudium, a "serious joy." I'm delighted to host Leland Cheuk in the Contemporary Voices column. He's funny in his interview, just as he is in his book, and (writing a funny book is no easy peasy lemon squeezy, lemme tell you)...damn, he's just naturally funny!

Welcome Leland Cheuk.

Bio: Leland Cheuk is the author of three books of fiction, including the novels THE MISADVENTURES OF SULLIVER PONG and most recently, NO GOOD VERY BAD ASIAN, forthcoming from C&R Press in November 2019. His work has appeared in SalonCatapultJoyland MagazineLiterary Hub, among other outlets. He has been awarded fellowships at The MacDowell Colony, Hawthornden Castle, Djerassi, and elsewhere. He runs the indie press 7.13 Books and lives in Brooklyn.You can follow him on Twitter @lcheuk and at lelandcheuk.com.   

Courtesy Leland Cheuk
Synopsis:


Meet Sirius Lee, a fictive famous Chinese American comedian. He is a no good, very bad Asian. He is not good at math (or any other subject, really). He has no interest in finding a “good Chinese girlfriend.” And he refuses to put any effort into becoming the CEO/Lawyer/Doctor his parents so desperately want him to be. All he wants to do is make people laugh. 

A cross between Paul Beatty's The Sellout and Jade Chang's The Wangs Vs. The World, NO GOOD VERY BAD ASIAN follows Sirius’s life from his poor, suffocating upbringing in the immigrant enclaves of Los Angeles to the loftiest heights of stardom as he struggles with substance abuse and the prejudice he faces despite his fame. Ultimately, when he becomes a father himself, he must come to terms with who he is, where he came from, and the legacy he'll leave behind.








Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Tsundoku #7 - September 2019


Hope your summer went well and you got your tsundoku pile down a little at least? Back to work now, and rebuilding that pile. And so issue #7 of Tsundoku – a column by me, Paul French. This is a kind of ‘back to school’ issue covering both some books that came out over the summer. So, let’s start with some new fiction...

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Lion City Lit by Ken Hickson

As Asian Books Blog is based in Singapore, our regular column Lion City Lit explores in-depth what’s going on in the City-State, lit-wise. Here’s what Ken Hickson has for us……

Love’s Labour’s Lost. Literally.


There are so many books to read, review and rifle through these days. And be impressed by  - quite frankly – with the amount and quality of Singapore published authors and the products of the Lion City’s thriving book business. From publisher, printer, distributor and retailer. Plus authors and illustrators of course!

Here’s my selection and a few short ‘review-like’ assessments of each one.  Literature, definitely. Variety, yes. Not necessarily to everyone’s taste, but all worth reading. Or at least flicking through. For many different reasons.  Read on…..


Friday, 6 September 2019

Looking ahead: Singapore Writers Festival 2019

The 22nd annual Singapore Writers Festival (SWF) returns this November with the theme A Language of Our Own. This edition seeks to examine the role of languages in the formation of identities and communities at a time when the world is becoming increasingly globalised, yet fractured. The theme invites authors and audiences to reflect on how they talk about different types of language, including non-standard ones such as emojis and Singlish, the local blend of English with words taken from Malay, Tamil and various Chinese dialects. Sessions will explore how, as systems of communication, languages have both the power to create a sense of belonging and also to cause displacement.

Friday, 26 July 2019

Summer reading

Asian Books Blog is taking a break until Friday September 6. In the meantime, what will you read if you're visiting Thailand, Taiwan or Vietnam? Cecile Collineau, an independent book consultant based in Singapore, recommends novels you could pack wherever you're going. 

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Backlist books: The Nine Cloud Dream by Kim Man-jung

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

This post is about The Nine Cloud Dream, also known as The Cloud Dream of the Nine, a celebrated novel written in seventeenth-century Korea but set in ninth-century China. Often compared with Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, the novel follows one man on a journey to discover the meaning of life according to a mixture of Confucian, Taoist and---most importantly---Buddhist ideals. His fate is entwined with the fates of eight gifted, beautiful and otherworldly women in a kind of alternate reality. The story is thus a kind of collective dream of nine individuals.

See below to find out what you need to know to decide whether you should read The Nine Cloud Dream, or what you should know about it even if you never do!

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

PEN TRANSLATES' WILL FORRESTER: IN CONVERSATION WITH NICKY HARMAN

 NICKY HARMAN interviews WILL FORRESTER, International and Translation Manager at English PEN, where he runs PEN TRANSLATES, the major UK-based, grant-giving programme funding literary translations.
picture credit - Stephanie Sy-Quia






You’ve had one round of PEN Translates, how did it feel? What were the most exciting books that came out of it for you?

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Researching Old Shanghai by Matthew Legare

Matthew Legare is the author of the Reiko / Inspector Aizawa historical thrillers set in pre-World War II Japan, and published by Black Mist Books. His latest novel is set in 1930s Shanghai. In this companion piece to his previous post on researching historical Japan, Matthew writes about books he'd recommend to other authors researching Old Shanghai.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Tsundoku #6 - July/August 2019

Welcome to issue #6 of Tsundoku – a column by me, Paul French, aiming to make that pile of ‘must read’ books by your bed a little more teetering. This is the bumper summer issue covering both July and August (Asian Books Blog shuts down for the summer like a Parisian boulangerie, and heads for the beach). So, with the holidays a’coming - let’s start with some new fiction...

Friday, 5 July 2019

500 words from Anna Wang

Anna Wang was born in China in 1966, and was living in Beijing in 1989, during the Tiananmen Square protests. She has published nine books in Chinese. She now lives in the USA, where she has just brought out her first book in English, Inconvenient Memories. This is a personal account of the Tiananmen Square protests and of China before and after those events.  But is it memoir, or autobiographical fiction?  Anna here addresses that question.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

O Thiam Chin Talks to Elaine Chiew about Vampires, Teenage Girls and His Sixth Book of Short Fiction, Signs of Life.

Photo courtesy of the Author and Alan Siew
O Thiam Chin is the author of five collections of short fiction: Free Falling Man, Never Been Better, Under the Sun, The Rest of Your Life and Everything That Comes With It, and Love, Or Something like Love. He was a recipient of the National Arts Council's Young Artist Award in 2012, and has been shortlisted for the 2014 Singapore Literature Prize. His debut novel, Now That It's Over, won the inaugural Epigram Books Fiction Prize in 2015, as well as the Best Fiction title at the 2017 Singapore Books Awards. His second novel, Fox Fire Girl, was also shortlisted for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize in 2016.








About Signs of Life (from the book jacket) (Math Paper Press, 2019):

A mysterious terrorising force hounding a group of schoolgirls at a campfire. A couple trying to conceive in a post-apocalyptic world. Two gay men, the last of their kind, getting acquainted in a laboratory for the purpose of scientific observation. A Christ-like figure raising the dead in the heartlands. Strange and suspenseful, these stories offer a whole other world of voices, plot and imagery that opens up new terrain in what is possible and imaginable. With wit, sensitivity and dexterity, O's characters slip from their ever-present reality into the surreal and unknown and find in the process their hungers, desires and pains coming fully awake, thrumming with exultant life.



Monday, 1 July 2019

Indie Spotlight - White Monkey

This month on Indie Spotlight, Carlos Hughes tells us about how his work teaching English as a foreign language led him to write about his experiences. Over to Carlos...

There are very few things that I am any good at where I would put a label on myself but I think a label that I could put on myself that wouldn't break the Trade Descriptions Act would be one of a writer. Even as a kid who couldn't stand school and would eventually leave/be thrown out with no qualifications at 16 - I always loved creative writing classes during English lessons. The only problem was I tended to go a bit mad when it came to creative writing and would end up writing 15 or so pages of a story within an hour only for the teacher to go 'Hughes, what have I told you before about this? Two pages MAXIMUM!'

So it wasn't like anyone in school was that bothered about my abilities or hidden genius but it was somewhat therapeutic and enjoyable for me.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Backlist books: Rashomon and Other Stories by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa

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

This post is about Rashomon and Other Stories, a collection of English translations of six of the “finest and most representative” short stories by Japanese author Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, who wrote over 100 short stories before he committed suicide in 1927 at the age of thirty-five.

Two of the stories in the collection, “Rashomon” and “In a Grove”, were combined in the award-winning 1950 Akira Kurosawa film Rashomon. The term ‘Rashomon effect’, named after the film, is used when eyewitnesses do not agree on the specifics of an event. It suggests that the truth is subjective or unknowable because people are unwilling or unable to describe it accurately.

See below to find out what you need to know to decide whether you should read Rashomon and Other Stories, or what you should know about it even if you never do!

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Nicky Harman interviews Jeremy Tiang, Singaporean writer, translator and playwright


Photo credit: Edward Hill

Nicky: When you were growing up, what were the first Chinese-language stories you came across, and what drew you to them?

Jeremy: Growing up in a former British colony can be a destabilizing experience. Singapore's official languages are English, Chinese (meaning Mandarin), Malay and Tamil, and there were always several languages swirling around me ― some of which I felt I was being encouraged to know (the English in the Enid Blyton books my parents bought us, the Mandarin they sent me to a neighbour to learn) as well as others I had less access to (the Cantonese they sometimes used with each other, the Tamil my dad occasionally spoke on the phone).  I encountered Chinese stories in all kinds of ways, on TV and in my school textbooks, but often freighted with cultural baggage: there was a weight of obligation on us, as English-educated people, to hang on to our Chinese heritage. It wasn't until I got some distance from Singapore, by moving to the UK for university, that I was able to enjoy Chinese-language literature on its own terms. While I came to appreciate the grounding I had received in Singapore, particularly in secondary school, I don't think I read a Chinese novel for pleasure till I was in my twenties. Once I was able to do that, I quickly developed a taste for it. And being a writer of English and a lover of Chinese fiction, it was a logical progression to literary translation ― the best way I could think of to get right inside these books.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Focus on NIAS Press: Yuan Shikai. By Patrick Fuliang Shan

The Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS), an integrated part of the University of Copenhagen, is an academically independent Nordic research and resource centre, focusing on modern Asia from a predominantly social sciences perspective.

NIAS Press is a globally focused publisher with the rigorous academic standards expected of a university press, but with the speed and decisiveness of a commercial publisher. Its lists cover all areas of Asian Studies, but it specialises in publishing innovative research on modern east and southeast Asian society.

This week, we're exploring NIAS Press in a series of three posts. In this third and final post, one of the Press' authors, Patrick Fuliang Shan, talks about his new book, on the first regular president of China, Yuan Shikai: A Reappraisal.

Dr. Patrick Fuliang Shan is a professor in the department of history at Grand Valley State University in the United States, where he teaches Chinese history, east Asian history, and world history. His earlier book, Taming China’s Wilderness: Immigration, Settlement, and the Shaping of the Heilongjiang Frontier, 1900-1931 probes the history of China’s northeastern frontier during a crucial period of historical transformation. He has published widely in journals and anthologies. He is a past president of the Chinese Historians in the United States.

Yuan Shikai: A Reappraisal is the first book in more than half a century to study Yuan Shikai, his life, and his political career. It sheds new light on the controversial history of this talented administrator, valiant general, and committed moderniser - and a man who, ever since his death, has been denounced as a national thief who usurped the fruits of the 1911 Revolution which overthrew the last empire in China. The book rectifies the traditional negative view by utilizing numerous new primary sources and by citing abundant recent publications. It explains that Yuan built the first modern army and implemented a series of reforms to modernize China. More crucially, he played a key role in directing the 1911 Revolution into a less bloody national conflict. However, his fatal mistake was his imperial endeavor in establishing a new dynasty in 1916, which led to a nation-wide civil war and his own death. Overall, Yuan Shikai: A Reappraisal offers a comprehensive analysis of Yuan’s life and his complex role in the shaping of modern Chinese history.

So, over to Dr. Patrick Fuliang Shan...

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Focus on NIAS Press: Haunted Houses and Ghostly Encounters. By Chris Shepherd

The Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS), an integrated part of the University of Copenhagen, is an academically independent Nordic research and resource centre, focusing on modern Asia from a predominantly social sciences perspective.

NIAS Press is a globally focused publisher with the rigorous academic standards expected of a university press, but with the speed and decisiveness of a commercial publisher. Its lists cover all areas of Asian Studies, but it specialises in publishing innovative research on modern east and southeast Asian society.

This week, we're exploring NIAS Press in a series of three posts. In this second post one of the Press' authors, Chris Shepherd, talks about his new book, Haunted Houses and Ghostly Encounters: Animism and Ethnography in East Timor, 1860–1975.

Chris is a semi-independent researcher affiliated with the School of Culture, History and Language at the Australian National University. He researches development, colonialism, indigenous politics and the history of science, with a special interest  in East Timor.

Haunted Houses and Ghostly Encounters: Animism and Ethnography in East Timor, 1860–1975, offers a history of Western ethnography of animism in East Timor during the Portuguese period.  It offers an original synthesis of the country’s history, culture and anthropology. The book consists of ten chapters, each one a narrative of the work and experience of a particular ethnographer. Covering a selection of seminal 19th- and 20th-century ethnographies, Chris explores the relationship between spiritual beliefs, colonial administration, ethnographic interests and fieldwork experience. Bringing colonial and professional ethnography into one frame of reference, he shows that ethnographers not only bore witness to processes of transformative animism, they also exemplified them.

So, over to Chris…

Monday, 17 June 2019

Focus on NIAS Press: A day in the life of a publishing assistant. By Adela Brianso Junquera

The Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS), an integrated part of the University of Copenhagen, is an academically independent Nordic research and resource centre, focusing on modern Asia from a predominantly social sciences perspective.

NIAS Press is a globally focused publisher with the rigorous academic standards expected of a university press, but with the speed and decisiveness of a commercial publisher. Its lists cover all areas of Asian Studies, but it specialises in publishing innovative research on modern east and southeast Asian society.

This week, we'll be exploring NIAS Press in a series of three posts. In this first post, Adela Brianso Junquera talks about her working day.

Adela is a publishing assistant at NIAS Press. A master’s student of global health at the University of Copenhagen, she works part-time as a student assistant. In her free time, she is the co-editor of the global health blog, Eye on Global Health. Before moving to Copenhagen, she studied social anthropology and politics in Edinburgh.

So, over to Adela...

Friday, 14 June 2019

Researching historical Japan, by Matthew Legare

Matthew Legare is the author of the Reiko / Inspector Aizawa historical thrillers set in pre-World War II Japan, and published by Black Mist Books. Read his previous post about Shadows Of Tokyo, the first title in the series, here.

In this post Matthew writes about books he'd recommend to other authors researching historical Japan.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Tsundoku #5 - June 2019


Welcome to issue #4 of Tsundoku – a column by me, Paul French, aiming to make that pile of ‘must read’ books by your bed a little more teetering. June is a big month as publishers gear up for the summer months….let’s start with new fiction...

 
Asian Books Blog regulars will have read Andrew Lam on his new novel Repentance (see his recent 500 Words… column) and the story of Japanese 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II. Something happened while his father was fighting the Germans in France, and no one is sure exactly what. A fascinating dive into one avenue of Japanese-American history.


Vietnamese-American author Abbigail Rosewood’s debut novel If I Had Two Lives follows a young woman from her childhood in Vietnam to her life as an immigrant in the United States - and her necessary return to her homeland. Displaced in New York, returning to Vietnam is no easy process either.


Monday, 3 June 2019

Eminent Historian Professor Wang Gungwu converses with Elaine Chiew on his autobiography, Home Is Not Here

Photo courtesy of NUS Press

From the book jacket:


Wang Gungwu is one of Asia’s most important public intellectuals. He is best-known for his explorations of Chinese history in the long view, and for his writings on the Chinese diaspora. With Home Is Not Here, the historian of grand themes turns to a single life history: his own.


In this volume, Wang talks about his multi-cultural upbringing and life under British rule. He was born in Surabaya, Java, but his parents’ orientation was always to China. Wang grew up in the plural, multi-ethnic town of Ipoh, Malaya (now Malaysia). He learned English in colonial schools and was taught the Confucian classics at home. After the end of WWII and the Japanese occupation, he left for the National Central University in Nanjing to study alongside some of the finest of his generation of Chinese undergraduates. The victory of Mao Zedong’s Communist Party interrupted his education, and he ends this volume with his return to Malaya. 

Wise and moving, this is a fascinating reflection on family, identity and belonging, and on the ability of the individual to find a place amid the historical currents that have shaped Asia and the world. 

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Indie Spotlight: Guards Gone Wild!

My guest today is Loh Teck Yong, a Singapore security guard who has self-published an interesting and original account of his experiences. Here he tells us about his road to self-publishing.



Security guards have it rough in Singapore. I know because I started working as one back in 1999. Full-time guards have to put up with a 72-hour work week and the week gets even longer for those who work 24-hour shifts. And while we are battling long hours for very low pay, we have to fend off attacks from unappreciative superiors, angry members of the public and even our own colleagues.