Sunday, 31 May 2015

The Sunday Post

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

Can Xue Takes Prize 
The eighth annual Best Translated Book Awards (BTBA) were announced at BookExpo America last week, with Can Xue’s The Last Lover, translated from the Chinese by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen, published by Yale University Press, taking home the award for fiction.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Indie Spotlight: Fran Pickering

Indie Spotlight is our monthly column on self-publishing. This month Raelee Chapman speaks to Fran Pickering the indie author of the popular Josie Clark East-West fusion murder mysteries. Josie is an English expat sleuth living in Tokyo where these mysteries are set.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

China is Guest of Honour at BookExpo America's Global Market Forum

BookExpo America, (BEA) North America’s foremost publishing event featuring the latest in print and digital book publishing began yesterday, May 27, in New York.

China is the guest of honour for the global market forum part of the conference. The country has sent along a high ranking delegation of top publishing professionals, internationally acclaimed authors, and senior government officials in an effort to widen and deepen the cultural and business ties between the world’s two largest publishing markets.  “This is the most significant foreign delegation that we have ever hosted at America’s largest publishing convention”, said Steven Rosato, BEA’s Show Director.  "We are honoured to welcome China and we look forward to making this a rewarding experience for everyone involved."

Sunday, 24 May 2015

The Sunday Post

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

Mao Dun Literature Prize
The Mao Dun Literary Prize (茅盾文学奖) is awarded every four years by the Chinese Writers Association. Any novel written by a Chinese national, published in mainland China, and with over 130,000 characters is eligible. If you read Chinese, click here for the full list of this year's contenders - 252 in all.  None of  the titles in contention has yet been translated into English.   For analysis in English from China literary expert Bruce Humes, click here.

Governments Make Bad Editors
PEN America has just released a report Censorship and Conscience: Foreign Authors and the Challenge of Chinese Censorship.  For full details click here

Indonesian Women and Local Politics: Islam, Gender and Networks in Post-Suharto Indonesia by Kurniawati Hastuti Dewi
In an important social change, female Muslim political leaders in Java have enjoyed considerable success in direct local elections following the fall of Suharto in Indonesia. Newly-published Indonesian Women and Local Politics shows that Islam, gender and social networks have been decisive in their political victories. Islamic ideas concerning female leadership provide a strong religious foundation for their political campaigns. However, their approach to women's issues shows that female leaders do not necessarily adopt a female perspective when formulating policies. This new trend of Muslim women in politics will continue to shape the growth and direction of democratisation in local politics in post-Suharto Indonesia and will colour future discourse on gender, politics and Islam in contemporary Southeast Asia.

Kurniawati Hastuti Dewi is senior researcher at the Research Center for Politics, Indonesian Institute of Sciences in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Published by NUS Press, Singapore, in paperback, USD34

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

Friday, 22 May 2015

International writers call for justice for bloggers murdered in Bangladesh

More than 150 writers from around the world, including Margaret Atwood, Amitav Ghosh, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Yann Martel, Salman Rushdie and Colm Tóibín have condemned the murders of Ananta Bijoy Das (or Dash), Washiqur Rahman Babu and Avijit Roy, three secular bloggers who have been brutally killed in Bangladesh this year. 

The group includes writers, publishers and lawyers who have joined PEN International and English PEN in calling on Bangladeshi Prime Minister Hasina Wajed and her government to do all in their power to ensure that the tragic events of the last three months are not repeated and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The letter, signed by PEN members across the globe, states:

We were shocked and horrified by last week’s murder of 32-year-old blogger and editor Ananta Bijoy Das, who was hacked to death on his way to work by a masked gang wielding machetes in the city of Sylhet on 12 May. Prior to his death, Ananta Bijoy Das had reportedly received a number of death threats from Islamist militants, and his name had appeared in two assassination lists published in the Bangladeshi media, alongside those of other secular bloggers described as anti-Islamic and blasphemous.

Less than two months earlier, on 26 February, fellow blogger and close friend of Ananta Bijoy Das, Avijit Roy was similarly brutally killed. Roy and his wife Rafida Ahmed Bonya, were viciously attacked by unknown assailants close to the Dhaka University campus. Roy died soon afterwards whilst Rafida Ahmed Bonya was severely injured. A militant Islamist group has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack.

A month later, on 29 March, blogger Washiqur Rahman Babu was murdered just 500 yards from his home in Begunbari, Dhaka. Police have claimed that the attackers targeted the 27-year-old blogger because they believed he had defamed Islam through his writings on websites, forums and social media. Two students from a madrassa (an Islamic school) have since been arrested in connection with Rahman’s killing.

At least three other writers have been attacked or murdered in Bangladesh since 2013 and, although there have been several arrests, no one has been held to account for any of these attacks. We are gravely concerned by this escalating pattern of violence against writers and journalists who are peacefully expressing their views. Freedom of expression is a fundamental right under Bangladesh’s constitution as well as one of the rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The authors have called on the Bangladeshi authorities to investigate Ananta Bijoy Das’s death swiftly and impartially as well as the murders of Avijit Roy and Washiqur Rahman Babu, and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice in accordance with international fair trial standards. They also demand that the authorities do all in their power to provide protection and support to bloggers and other writers at risk in Bangladesh, in accordance with Bangladesh’s obligations under national and international law.

Jo Glanville, Director of English PEN, said:

‘This is a campaign of violence against bloggers and writers who are courageous enough to speak out in a hostile culture for free speech. The government of Bangladesh must urgently address the climate of impunity and be seen to safeguard freedom of expression. These shocking events have united writers throughout the world in an important show of solidarity.’

John Ralston Saul, President of PEN International, said:

‘Since my time in Dhaka late last year, I have seen the situation slip steadily downhill. The government, and the Prime Minister in particular, have the responsibility and the ethical obligation to stop this violence and to ensure that Bangladesh meets acceptable standards of both democracy and the rule of law, which are needed to protect the citizens' right to free expression.’