The Conference of the Birds

51fzz9mvysl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Translated by Sholeh Wolpé
W. W. Norton & Company, 2017

Considered by Rumi to be “the master” of Sufi mystic poetry, Attar is best known for his epic poem The Conference of the Birds, a magnificent allegorical tale about the soul’s search for meaning. The poem recounts the perilous journey of the world’s birds to the faraway peaks of Mount Qaf―a mythical mountain that wraps around the earth―in search of the mysterious Simurgh, their king. Attar’s beguiling anecdotes and humor intermingle the sublime with the mundane, the spiritual with the worldly, and the religious with the metaphysical. Reflecting the entire evolution of Sufi mystic tradition, Attar’s poem models the soul’s escape from the mind’s rational embrace. (Publisher’s Description)

Sholeh Wolpé is an Iranian-American poet and writer. She is the recipient of the PEN/Heim Grant, the Midwest Book Award, and the Lois Roth Persian Translation Prize, among others.

Year of Reversible Loss by Norma Farber

 

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Year of Reversible Loss by Norma Farber
El León Literary Arts, 2012

Year of Reversible Loss is an exquisite cornucopia of meditative insight and poetry, pondering the trajectory of grief and capturing its changing rhythms through gemlike poetry and sustained passages of remembrance and reflection. Norma Farber traces the turning of the seasons as a deeply felt metaphor for the journey of the grieving heart in this journal of the year following the death of her husband, Sidney Farber, dedicated pioneer in the field of pediatric oncology.

Where once a leaf clung,
the ashtree wears a scar,
a moon halted at half.

Her observations of the natural world as well as the hidden recesses of the heart are startling, fresh, and brilliant, at once keenly personal and sublimely transcendent.

Sign your name on the wind.
Then I’ll know which way
to follow you.

This is a book to be savored for its insight and surprising humor, and for its passionate, astounding beauty.

Reviewed by Lillian Howan, author of The Charm Buyers.

Coyote Traces: Aku Wuwu’s Poetic Sojourn in America

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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)

Ruined City: A Novel (Chinese Literature Today Book Series)

41lj7pwnbhlby Jia Pingwa
University of Oklahoma Press, 2016

Originally published in 1993, Ruined City (Fei Du) was banned by China’s State Publishing Administration for its explicit sexual content. Since then, Jia Pingwa’s novel of contemporary China’s social and economic transformation has become a bestseller. The story of a famous contemporary writer’s sexual and legal tangles, the novel uses comedy and parody to comment on issues of intellectual seriousness, censorship, and artistic integrity in a changing Chinese society. (Adapted from publisher’s description)

Jia Pingwa (1952- ) stands with Mo Yan and Yu Hua as one of the most prominent and prolific novelists in contemporary Chinese literature. His novels, short stories and essays have a large readership in mainland China, as well as in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The French translation of Ruined City won the French Prix Femina in 1997.

Steep Tea

by Jee Leong Koh
Carcanet Press, 2015

koh-jee-leong-steep-teaSteep Tea is Singapore-born Jee Leong Koh’s fifth collection and the first to be published in the UK. Koh’s poems express many of the harsh and enriching circumstances of a postcolonial queer writer, in a voice both colloquial and musical. Like the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop, Eavan Boland and Lee Tzu Pheng, Koh’s writing is forged in the pleasures of reading, cultures and communities. (Adapted from publisher’s description)

“Here are short, deft narratives that map the mismatched patterns of male and female desire grounded in partial understandings of love. The author’s native Singapore sounds out sharply, often ironically, in counterpoint to the intimate domestic interiors that help to constitute what will surely be recognized as some of contemporary poetry’s classic love poems.” -David Kinloch

Jee Leong Koh was born and raised in Singapore and moved to New York in 2003. He has a BA in English from Oxford University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. He is the curator of the website Singapore Poetry and the cochair of the inaugural Singapore Literature Festival in New York City. He lives in New York City.

Real Life in China at the Height of Empire: Revealed by the Ghosts of Ji Xiaolan

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The Chinese University Press, 2014

Toward the end of the eighteenth century, Ji Xiaolan, widely regarded as the most eminent scholar and foremost wit of his age, published five collections of anecdotes and discourses on the interaction between the mundane and spirit worlds, and purely earthly life stories and happenings. Settings range from the milieux of peasants, servants, and merchants to those of governors and ministers, and extend to the far reaches of the Qing empire. They include pieces comparing comedy and tragedy, cruelty and kindness, corruption and integrity, erudition and ignorance, credulity and skepticism. (adapted from publisher’s website)

David E. Pollard was Professor of Chinese in the University of London and later Professor of Translation in the Chinese University of Hong Kong. His books include The True Story of Lu Xun (2002), Zhou Zuoren: Selected Essays (2006), and The Chinese Essay (1999).

Chutzpah!: New Voices from China

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University of Oklahoma Press, 2015
Volume 4 in the Chinese Literature Today Book Series

These stories are drawn from the pages of Chutzpah!, one of China’s most innovative literary magazines. They range in setting from the suburbs of Nanjing to the mountains of Xinjiang Province, from London’s Chinatown to a universe seemingly sprung from a video game. In them, readers encounter a sweet, lonely fabric store owner, a lesbian house cleaner, a posse of shit-talking vo-tech students, a human hive-mind, a jeep-driving swordsman who reads Borges and Nabokov, and other assortments of bizarre humans and water spirits. (adapted from the publisher’s website)

Based in rural Anhui Province, Ou Ning is author of New Sound of Beijing. He served as editor-in-chief of Chutzpah! magazine from 2011 to 2014. Austin Woerner is the translator of Doubled Shadows: Selected Poetry of Ouyang Jianghe.