Coyote Traces: Aku Wuwu’s Poetic Sojourn in America

coyote-traces

Foreign Language Publications, The Ohio State University, 2016

Coyote Traces author Aku Wuwu, of the Yi ethnic minority in Southwest China, shares his real journey through both nations and the internconnection of cultures and languages.

In the words of author Aku Wuwu: “In these poems, I have tried to record the tangible and intangible heritages of Native Americans as I perceive them. In the process, I occassionally invoke my own Nuosu heritage. Imbibing the fresh air of other peoples’ cultures, I ponder over my personal spiritual life and the home of my soul. I wish to combine these shattered fragments into some serious ideas and thoughts. While writing these so-called cross-lingual and cross-cultural texts, I have attempted to explore the real nature of humanity, which has occassionally turned out to be a spiritual pilgramage back to my own native civilization.”

The collection of 80 poems, written in both Chinese and English translations, includes 9 full-color photo plates from the author’s journey. Paperback, 377 pages. (Publisher’s description)

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The Chrysanthème Papers: The Pink Notebook of Madame Chrysanthème and other Documents of French Japonisme

by Christopher Reed
University of Hawai’i Press, 2010

Pierre Loti’s novel Madame Chrysanthème (1888) enjoyed great popularity during the author’s lifetime, served as a source of Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly, and remains in print to this day as a classic in Western literature. Loti’s story describes the affair between a French naval officer and Chrysanthème, a temporary “bride” purchased in Nagasaki. More broadly, Loti’s novel helped define the terms in which Occidentals perceived Japan as delicate, feminine, and, to use one of Loti’s favorite words, “preposterous”—in short, ripe for exploitation.

Written by Félix Régamey, a talented illustrator with firsthand knowledge of Japan, The Pink Notebook of Madame Chrysanthème (1893) retells Loti’s story but this time as the diary of Chrysanthème. The book, presented here in English for the first time and together with the original French text and illustrations by Régamey and others, is certainly surprising in its late nineteenth-century context. Its retelling of a classic tale from the position of a character marginalized by her sex and race provocatively anticipates certain aspects of postmodern literature. Translator Christopher Reed’s emphasis on competing Western ideas about Japan challenges conventional scholarly generalizations concerning Japanism in this era. (Publisher’s description)

Christopher Reed is associate professor of English and visual culture at the Pennsylvania State University.

Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War

41h5gqacmol-_sy344_bo1204203200_1By Karl Marlantes
El Leon Literary Arts, 2010

Thirty years in the making, Marlantes’s epic debut is a dense, vivid narrative spanning many months in the lives of American troops in Vietnam as they trudge across enemy lines, encountering danger from opposing forces as well as on their home turf. Marine lieutenant and platoon commander Waino Mellas is braving a 13-month tour in Quang-Tri province, where he is assigned to a fire-support base and befriends Hawke, older at 22; both learn about life, loss, and the horrors of war. Jungle rot, leeches dropping from tree branches, malnourishment, drenching monsoons, mudslides, exposure to Agent Orange, and wild animals wreak havoc as brigade members face punishing combat and grapple with bitterness, rage, disease, alcoholism, and hubris. A decorated Vietnam veteran, the author clearly understands his playing field (including military jargon that can get lost in translation), and by examining both the internal and external struggles of the battalion, he brings a long, torturous war back to life with realistic characters and authentic, thrilling combat sequences. Marlantes’s debut may be daunting in length, but it remains a grand, distinctive accomplishment. (Publishers Weekly)

Karl Marlantes is a graduate of Yale University and a Rhodes Scholar. His decorations in the Marines include two Navy Commendation Medals for Valor, two Purple Hearts, and ten Air Medals.

Wandering Souls: Journeys With the Dead and the Living in Viet Nam

By Wayne Karlin
Nation Books, 2009

On March 19, 1969, First Lieutenant Homer R. Steedly Jr. shot and killed a North Vietnamese soldier, Hoang Ngoc Dam, when they met on a jungle trail. In the dead man’s pockets, Homer found a notebook filled with beautiful line drawings, which he sent back to his mother. Thirty-five years later, Homer opened the book and discovered the drawings of the man who had wanted to become a healer. He made a vow to return the book to the dead man’s family if they could be found, and in seeking their forgiveness perhaps find some release from the war that had defined his life. Fellow veteran Wayne Karlin accompanied Homer on his remarkable journey. In Wandering Souls, Karlin recounts Homer’s movement toward a recovery that could only come about through a confrontation with the ghosts of his past—and the need of Dam’s family to bring their child’s “wandering soul” to his own peace.
Wandering Souls reminds us of the terrible price of war on soldiers and their loved ones, and reveals a way to heal not by forgetting war’s hard lessons, but by remembering its costs. (Publisher’s description)

Wayne Karlin is an American author, editor, and teacher. In 1998 he was awarded the Paterson Prize in Fiction, and in 2005 he received an Excellence in the Arts Award from the Vietnam Veterans of America.

Island World: A History of Hawai‘i and the United States

okihiro-islandBy Gary Y. Okihiro
University of California Press, 2008

In Island World, Gary Y. Okihiro reconsiders the traditional idea that the United States acts upon and dominates Hawai‘i without the Islands in turn acting upon the mainland U.S. Using geology, folklore, music, cultural commentary, and history, Okihiro reveals Hawaiians fighting in the Civil War, sailing on nineteenth-century New England ships, and living in pre-gold rush California. He points to Hawai‘i’s lingering effect on twentieth-century American culture—from surfboards, hula, sports, and films, to art, imagination, and racial perspectives—even as the islands themselves succumb slowly to the continental United States. This book not only revises the way we think about islands, oceans, and continents, but also recasts the way we write about place and history.(Publisher’s description)

Gary Y. Okihiro is Professor of International and Public Affairs and Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University. His recent works include Common Ground: Reimagining American History.