Unearthing the Polynesian Past: Explorations and Adventures of an Island Archaeologist

KirchBookby Patrick Vinton Kirch
University of Hawai‘i Press, 2015

In this memoir, archaeologist Patrick Vinton Kirch describes his fieldwork in over two dozen islands in the Pacific.

Kirch started out as an intern under Bishop Museum zoologist Yoshio Kondo and took part in archaeological digs on the islands of Hawai‘i and Maui. During his high school years at Punahou, he apprenticed with eminent archaeologist Kenneth Emory. After Kirch obtained his anthropology degree from the University of Pennsylvania, he joined a Bishop Museum expedition to Anuta Island, where a traditional Polynesian culture still flourished. He went on to earn his doctorate at Yale University with a study of the traditional irrigation-based chiefdoms of Futuna Island. Since then, Kirch has worked with ecologists, soil scientists, and paleontologists to explain how Polynesians adapted to and altered their island ecosystems.

In Unearthing the Polynesian Past, Kirch reflects on how archaeological methods have advanced and how knowledge of the Polynesian past has developed. (Adapted from publisher’s description)

Patrick Vinton Kirch is Chancellor’s Professor Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley.

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Meeting with My Brother: A Novella

MeetingWithMyBrother

by Yi Mun-Yol
Translated by Heinz Insu Fenkl with Yoosup Chang
Columbia University Press, 2017

Meeting with My Brother is narrated by Professor Yi, a South Korean who lived under suspicion for many years as the son of a traitor. At the start of the Korean War, Yi’s father had defected to the North. Many years later, Yi made plans to meet his father, but before this could happen, his father died.

Later, Yi learns of the existence of a half-brother and contacts him. Though carefully arranged, their encounter takes an unexpected turn.

Meeting with My Brother provides readers with insights into the complex perspectives of a divided Korea and explores the difficulties of both a political and personal reunification. (Adapted from publisher’s description)

Yi Mun-yol is one of the most prominent and socially significant literary figures of post–1980s Korea.

Heinz Insu Fenkl is an associate professor of English and Asian studies at SUNY New Paltz.

The Borderlands of Asia

The_Borderlands_of_Asia

introduced and edited by Mark Bender
Victor H. Mair, University of Pennsylvania, Cambria Sinophone World Series, 2017

The Borderlands of Asia is a collection of works by poets of diverse cultural backgrounds from the borders of China and India: the Himalayas, Northeast India, Myanmar, West and Southwest China, and Mongolia. The book is the result of Mark Bender’s personal connection and research in those areas since the early 1980s. The themes include rapid environmental change, such as resource extraction; damming of rivers; loss of wildlife and habitat; population displacement; and how these changes influence traditional culture. (Adapted from publisher’s description)

Mark Bender is a professor of Chinese literature and folklore at The Ohio State University.

 

The Paths Men Take

by Jack London716mzqfrvgl
Introduction by Davide Sapienza
Contrasto, 2016

London, author of Call of the Wild and The Sea Wolf.  was also a photographer (referring to his images as human documents) and the camera was 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.

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, an 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

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by Norma Farber
El León Literary Arts, 2012

Year of Reversible Loss is a 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, at once keenly personal and transcendent.

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

Reviewed by Lillian Howan, author of The Charm Buyers.

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)