The Paths Men Take

by Jack London716mzqfrvgl
Introduction by Davide Sapienza
Contrasto, 2016

London was a significant writer of the early twentieth century; his most notable works include include Call of the Wild and The Sea Wolf. But more than that, he was also a photographer (referring to his images as human documents) and the camera was to become his inseparable companion on adventures and assignments all over the world. This book presents a wide selection of his photographs, accompanied by passages taken from some of his greatest works, of fiction and journalism: essential milestones in which London became witness to the great events of his time, their contours expanding and emerging from the human documents of The People of the Abyss, the Russo-Japanese War, the San Francisco earthquake and the incredible voyage of the Snark. (Adapted from publisher’s description)

Davide Sapienza is an Italian writer, translator, and journalist.

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

edited and translated by David E. Pollard9789629966010-500x730
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).

Cafe Jause: A Story of Viennese Shanghai

Screen shot 2015-10-12 at 3.35.22 PMby Wena Poon
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014

Shanghai, 1936. On the eve of World War II, the Jewish, Chinese and Japanese customers of a famous Viennese café on Zhoushan Road get together for an international project: to bake the ‘king of the cakes’, the legendary German baumkuchen. Illustrated with modern and vintage photography. (Amazon.com)

American novelist Wena Poon is the author of ten books of fiction, often exploring diaspora culture, transnational identity, and gender. Her stories have been widely anthologized and translated into French, Italian, and Chinese.

 

Waterman: The Life and Times of Duke Kahanamoku

by David DavisProductImageHandler.ashx
University of Nebraska Press, 2015

Waterman is the first comprehensive biography of Duke Kahanamoku (1890–1968): swimmer, surfer, Olympic gold medalist, Hawaiian icon, and waterman. Kahanamoku become America’s first superstar Olympic swimmer. He was at the top of the world rankings for more than a decade; his rivalry with Johnny Weissmuller transformed competitive swimming from an insignificant sideshow into a headliner event. Kahanamoku used his Olympic renown to introduce the sport of surfing, an activity unknown outside the Hawaiian Islands, to the world. Kahanamoku’s connection to his homeland was equally important. Born when Hawai‘i was an independent kingdom, he served as the sheriff of Honolulu during the attack on Pearl Harbor and World War II, and as a globetrotting “Ambassador of Aloha” afterward. He died shortly after Hawai‘i became a state. (Adapted from the publisher’s website.)

David Davis is the author of three books on sports history. His work has appeared in anthologies including The Best American Sports Writing.

Chutzpah!: New Voices from China

Screen shot 2015-10-08 at 4.45.07 PMedited by Ou Ning and Austin Woerner
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.

 

Need I Say More?

by Stephen Kessler71wB8sn0eEL
El Leon Literary Arts, 2015

Stephen Kessler’s third collection of essays gathers fifty-four pieces ranging over thirty-three years and several genres of personal and critical prose: family memoir, travel journal, social satire, political analysis, cultural commentary, literary criticism, anecdote, confession, spiritual and philosophical reflection. Whether addressing his own baldness, the pursuit of sexual satisfaction, the art of photographer Vivian Maier, the self-mythification of Gertrude Stein, the mysteries of literary translation, the creativity in criticism, or personalities like Steve Jobs and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Kessler’s essays invitingly readable. His eclectic interests and nimble intelligence infuse these writings with unique insights into our lives and times. (Publisher’s description)

Stephen Kessler is a poet, translator, essayist and editor whose writings have appeared in books, anthologies, magazines and newspapers across the United States since the late 1960s. Born in Los Angeles in 1947, he has degrees in literature from Bard College and the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is the author of eight books.

Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World

www.randomhouseby Jane Hirshfield
Knopf, 2015

Hirshfield, a poet and Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, ponders the value and function of poetry in 10 insightful essays. Following up on her earlier nonfiction book Nine Gates, Hirshfield delves into various works written across multiple styles and centuries. She begins with a perceptive lesson about the way a poet—and a poem—sees the world, later exploring the theme of “the hidden,” referring to both subterranean layers of meaning in a piece of writing and the protective concealments common in nature, in which, according to a biologist, “hiddenness is the default.” Elsewhere, Hirshfield shows how asking questions about poems, from Basho’s haiku to Walt Whitman’s American epics, can lead to answers about ourselves. In this vein, she tackles “American-ness” as it’s manifested in modern American poetry, concluding that our “culture [is] created by immigration, by mobility of psyche and of body.” Hirshfield writes with a poet’s voice and imparts wisdom on nearly every page. In a particularly lucid selection, “Poetry and the Constellation of Surprise,” she explains how important it is that poetry transcend reason, because reason “cannot and does not encompass the whole of life.” Hirshfield’s in-depth tour of poetry and art leaves a lasting impression. — Publisher’s Weekly

Jane Hirshfield is the author of eight books of poetry, including The Beauty; Come, Thief; After; and Given Sugar, Given Salt. Hirshfield has received fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Academy of American Poets. A resident of Northern California since 1974, she is a current chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.