Saturday, 28 March 2015

Irrawaddy Literary Festival Starts Today

The 3rd Irrawaddy Literary Festival starts today.

Check out the website here.

Check out the Facebook page here.

If you happen to be visiting the Festival, and you'd like to write about it for the blog, then let me know!  (Email:

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Guest Post: Dominique Wilson / Researching The Yellow Papers

Dominique Wilson is an Australian historical novelist. She here gives an in-depth account of how she researched her novel The Yellow Papers, and also offers advice to others on how to research historical novels set, or partly set, in Asia.

The story
The Yellow Papers is a novel set between Australia and China, from just after the two Opium Wars to the time of the Cultural Revolution. It is a story of love, obsession and friendship set against a backdrop of war and racial prejudice. 

It begins in 1872 when China – still bruised from its defeat in the two Opium Wars – sends a group of boys, including seven-year-old Chen Mu, to America to study and bring back the secrets of the West. But nine years on Chen Mu becomes a fugitive and flees to Umberumberka, a mining town in outback Australia. He eventually finds peace working for Matthew Dawson, a rich pastoralist. 

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Indie Spotlight: Juan Rader Bas

For this month’s Indie Spotlight, Raelee Chapman chats with Juan Rader Bas, who describes himself as a Fil-Am Kicking Scribe (Filipino-American, martial arts devotee & writer). Juan Rader Bas’s debut novel, Back Kicks and Broken Promises, was self-published with Abbott Press.  It is a coming of age novel about an adopted 17-year-old Filipino who finds self-expression and fulfilment through martial arts after moving from Singapore to New Jersey. Juan took time out from his busy schedule as a public school teacher, parent, martial artist and writer to discuss the indie process and his new writing projects.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Q & A with Cheryl Robson

Amongst many other achievements, writer, editor, arts entrepreneur, and charity activist Cheryl Robson founded Aurora Metro Books, which has offices in London, Sydney, and Singapore, where she is now based. Aurora Metro is strong in non-fiction titles relating to the arts, in biography, and in fiction for young adults.  It also has an exciting adult fiction list, including debut novels from many new voices; it is particularly keen to champion previously unpublished women writers. The company is committed to bringing non-English-language writers to an English readership in good, accessible translations. Authors from over 20 countries are represented in its lists, and many of its translated titles are available in English for the first time.
I asked Cheryl about her life and about Aurora Metro, and its big ambitions.

Quick Comment from PP Wong

As reported here, The Life of a Banana by PP Wong has been longlisted for the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize).  It is one of four titles with Asian interest to have caught the judges' eyes, the others are I Am China, by Xiaolu Guo, A God in Every Stone, by Kamila Shamsie, and The Bees, by Laline Paull, who was born in the UK of first generation Indian Immigrants

PP had this to say about the Prize's support for Asia's women writers: "I'm absolutely thrilled that four Asian authors have been longlisted. In the last year, I have seen some positive steps in the Western publishing industry towards supporting fresh, fearless narratives by female Asian writers. For example, Celeste Ng was chosen as Amazon's book of the year. While Yiyun Li and Madeleine Thien were nominated for the UK Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award. There is still more work to be done in encouraging more diverse voices, but I am hopeful that changes are already starting to happen."

The Prize will be awarded in London, on June 3.  Good luck, PP!

This Week In Asian Review of Books

Asian Books Blog is not a review site. If you want reviews, see the Asian Review of Books. Here is a list of its newest reviews, and columns:

Voices from the Frontline: Narratives of Nonnative English Speaking Teachers by Icy Lee and Paul Sze reviewed by Peter Gordon
Confucius and the World He Created by Michael Schuman reviewed byJohn Butler
Islamic Schooling in East Java: a visit to a pesantren in Gontor by Pallavi Aiyar
A Bad Character by Deepti Kapoor reviewed by Jane Wallace

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Lion City Lit: Three From Ethos

Asian Books Blog is based in Singapore.  Lion City Lit explores literary life in our own backyard. This week, we highlight three new titles from local publisher, Ethos.

Moth Stories, a collection of short stories by Leonora Liow
A young girl’s ambitions prompt dark stirrings in her nature. A father reckons with a lifetime of dysfunctional family relations. A foreign worker is cut adrift on a raft of shattered dreams. In the title story, Moth, a condemned woman reclaims her broken dignity. In a collection filled with pity, humour and irony, Leonora Liow explores the private universes of individuals navigating the arcane waters of human existence and illuminates the extraordinary humanity that endures.
Leonora Liow is a Singapore-based writer. Moth Stories is her debut collection.
Moth Stories is published in paperback, priced at SGD 20, excluding tax.