Friday, 10 August 2018

Summer break: happy reading!

Asian Books Blog is taking a summer break. We'll be back on Friday, September 14.  In the meantime: happy summer reading!

Monday, 6 August 2018

In Celebration of Books: The Singapore Literature Prize 2018

Nominee Books on Display

The Singapore Literature Prize, which carries a cash award of S$10,000 for each winner in each language category (Chinese, English, Tamil, Malay), held tonight at the NTUC Center, 1 Marina Boulevard, is in its 12th rendition (a biennial award), celebrating the best in Singapore poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. Organised by the Singapore Book Council (formerly National Book Development Council), it's certainly had its share of controversy (no rehashing here, you can read about it on Wikipedia).  The evening kicks off with video footage of Suchen Christine Lim (who needs no introduction really) exhorting the winners not to let winning halt them in their tracks: the sort of a "okay, what now?" moment that freezes a writer after a big win. 

Friday, 27 July 2018

The Art of War becomes The Science of War. Guest post by Christopher MacDonald

Christopher MacDonald is Chinese-to-English translator and interpreter based in the UK. He spent a year in Xian, in 1985, and has since lived and worked in Taipei, Hong Kong and Shanghai, as a translator, interpreter, and trade and investment consultant. He has recently brought out The Science of War, which is supported by a new translation of the classic text, The Art of War.

The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military treatise attributed to the strategist Sun Tzu. It is composed of 13 chapters, each devoted to a distinct aspect of warfare and how that applies to military strategy and tactics. For more than two thousand years, strategists in China have followed its system of military teachings. This has now also influenced Western thinking, not only in the military sphere, but also in realms such as business and the law.

In The Science of War, Christopher MacDonald tells how military principles and teachings first crystallized into Sun Tzu’s treatise and how they guide China's leaders’ thinking to this day.

Here Christopher discusses why he chose to translate The Art of War, and why his own book is called The Science of War.

So, over to Christopher…

Friday, 20 July 2018

Student bookshelf: Exploring modern Mongolian poetry through a contemporary medium

Simon Wickham-Smith, author of
Modern Mongolian Literature in Seven Days
Aurelia Paul recently graduated from Boston University, where she was studying comparative literature and Chinese. In her column Student bookshelf, she shares responses to materials she has explored in her classes.
This week I read about literature from a digital source, a blog series on the Best American Poetry website. Simon Wickham-Smith created the blog series in 2009, with the aim of making modern Mongolian literary works more accessible for a global audience. One of the difficulties that students studying Mongolian literature in English often come across is that physical texts are hard to obtain and expensive to purchase because publishers use short run printing.  Digital genres such as blog posts and online articles, and PDFs of printed works can help counteract this problem. In addition to being published online, Modern Mongolian Literature in Seven Days is also free to read, and this promotes equal access to knowledge.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Backlist books: The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

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

This post is about The Good Earth, the first volume in a trilogy that tells the story of a farmer named Wang Lung and his descendants in the early 1900s in China. In 1932 the novel won a Pulitzer Prize, and in 1938 the author won the Nobel Prize for Literature. In 2004, Oprah put the book back in the spotlight when she chose it for her book club.

The author was an American who spent considerable time in China both as a child and as an adult. Some insist that she was nevertheless a cultural outsider bound by stereotypes, while others feel her depiction of life in China was well informed and thus informative.

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

Monday, 16 July 2018

Lion City lit: crafting happy endings and the contemporary Singapore novel

Asian Books Blog is based in Singapore. Our occasional column Lion City Lit explores in-depth what’s going on in the City-State, lit-wise.

Here Eldes Tran reports on a recent forum on the novel in contemporary Singapore. Whatever happened to happy endings? was organised by Epigram Books, Singapore’s largest independent publisher of local stories for all ages, and the sponsor of the country's biggest prize for fiction.

Eldes is an assistant editor at Epigram. She mostly edits nonfiction and children’s books, but also some adult fiction. Apart from editing, she also acts as a project manager seeing books through all stages of production.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Mediating Islam guest post by Janet Steele

Janet Steele is associate professor of media and public affairs, and international affairs, at George Washington University, USA. She is the author of Email dari Amerika (Email from America) and Wars Within: The Story of Tempo, an Independent Magazine in Soeharto's Indonesia. She has just brought out Mediating Islam: Cosmopolitan Journalisms in Muslim Southeast Asia.

Mediating Islam asks: what is Islamic journalism? It examines day-to-day journalism as practiced by Muslim professionals at five exemplary news organisations in Malaysia and Indonesia.  At Sabili, established as an underground publication, journalists are hired for their ability at dakwah, or Islamic propagation. At Tempo, a news magazine banned during the Soeharto regime, the journalists do not talk much about sharia law; although many are pious and see their work as a manifestation of worship, the Islam they practice is often viewed as progressive or even liberal. At Harakah reporters support an Islamic political party, while at Republika they practice a "journalism of the Prophet." Secular news organisations, too, such as Malaysiakini, employ Muslim journalists.

In her guest post for Asian Books Blog, Janet talks about the generosity of her sources in the world of Islamic journalism, in the years leading up to the recent Malaysian general election.