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.

 

The Lotus Singers: Short Stories from Contemporary South Asia

51pmboga-0l-_sx330_bo1204203200_Edited by Trevor Carolan
Cheng & Tsui Company, Inc., 2011.

The Lotus Singers: Short Stories from Contemporary South Asia is a collection of contemporary short stories by South Asia’s most renown authors.  With writers from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, this anthology gives readers a glimpse into the complexities of a region so diverse in both landscape and people through the exploration of themes such as social upheaval, gender inequality, economic and spiritual struggle, and challenges to cultural orthodoxy.

In his review, Alan Cheuse describes that while the writers featured in The Lotus Singers are little know in the US, this anthology shows “how a distant part of the world seems so foreign and yet so close to home.”   Ira Raja also writes that the collection seems at first “to confirm out expectations of the standard stereotypes associated with South Asia—poverty, caste, and the pressures of the traditional family—[it turns] those expectations around in bold, subtle, and intriguing ways, forcing readers to rethink everything they thought they knew about this place at the crossroads of the world” (quoted from the back cover).

Trevor Carolan was born in Yorkshire but grew up in New Westminster, British Columbia.  He received an interdisciplinary PH.D. at Bond University, Australia, and currently teaches English at University of the Fraser Valley near Vancouver.  His current works include Another Kind of Paradise: Short Stories from the New Asia-Pacific and Against The Shore: The Best of Pacific Rim Review of Books, which he co-edited with Richard Olafson.

Lines for Birds

poems and paintingspoems & paintings
by Barry Hill & John Wolseley

Lines for Birds is the result of a collaboration between painter John Wolseley and award-winning poet Barry Hill. The book follows the flight paths and habitats of birds, from the Victorian Mallee to the forests of South East Asia, to Japan and the south of France. (Publisher’s Description)

Barry Hill grew up in a coastal, Melbourne suburb in Australia, and since childhood has had a fascination with birds. He writes, “The whole experience of heading west on foot, out across those paddocks miles from the built up area, was inseparable from a sense of being as free as the hawks above us. Fragility and wildness—that’s how birds penetrated me as a kid.”  John Wolseley was born in England and spent much of his childhood outdoors among native birds and eventually migrated to Australia where, as he puts it, “birds and their songs followed me in a succession of homes and campsites in the scrub.”

(Taken from the back cover: “When a bird arrives, quite literally, into our space, it constitutes a burning moment in time, one which instantly seems to possess a memorable vibration. Birds have a natural, real presence. It is unqualified. That is their power. At the same time, their presence is constantly mediated by our culture, which sets off other vibrations, including spiritual ones.”)

Winter Sun

by Shi Zhi
translated by Jonathan Stalling
University of Oklahoma Press, 2012.

By presenting Shi Zhi’s poems in chronological order, Winter Sun allows readers to appreciate the evolution of his poetry from his earliest work to his most recent poems. (Publisher’s Description)

Born as Guo Lusheng in 1948, at the height of the Chinese Civil War, Shi Zhi joined the People’s Liberation Army at the age of twenty-three. Discharged early, he entered into a period of severe depression and spent much of the next three decades living in mental hospitals under harsh conditions. Taking the pen name of Shi Zhi, meaning “index finger,” to evoke the image of people pointing at his back, he continued to write poetry throughout these tumultuous years.

Drifting House

Drifting Houseby Krys Lee
Viking/Penguin, 2012.

Spanning the Korean peninsula and the United States, from the postwar era to contemporary times, Krys Lee’s fiction debut, Drifting House, is about people who are torn between the traumas of their collective past and the indignities and sorrows of their present.

In the title story, children escaping famine in North Korea are forced to make unthinkable sacrifices to survive. The tales set in America reveal the immigrants’ unmoored existence, playing out in cramped apartments and Koreatown strip malls. A makeshift family is fractured when a shaman from the old country moves in next door. An abandoned wife enters into a fake marriage in order to find her kidnapped daughter. (Publisher’s description.)

Although born and currently living in Seoul, South Korea, Krys Lee spent much of her childhood in California and Washington and spent time in England. In 2012 she received a special mention in the Pushcart Prize Anthology. In 2006 she was included in a short list of finalists for the Best New American Voices.