Poet and dancer, Tishani Doshi’s latest book, Small Days and Nights, released April 2019, narrates the story of Grace (half-Italian, half-Indian), who moves from the US to India, owing to the passing away of her mother. Her life unravels when a house is bequeathed to her, in a village by the sea, and she meets Lucia, a sister, she never knew she had. While Doshi’s last book, Girls are Coming Out Of The Woods, was a poetry collection that evoked feelings of resilience, fear, pain and wonder, her latest novel takes the reader deeper into the realms of familial relationships, loss, endearment and rebirth of emotions that get buried through time and distance.

Liam Wong’s debut collection of photography, the eponymously entitled TO:KY:OO, brings together several trends that someone more au courant with the cultural zeitgeist than I perhaps would have already been familiar with. I had, for example, to look up what “cyberpunk” actually meant and can’t myself say whether the photographs in this collection are “cyberpunk-inspired” or are instead influenced by other, more mainstream, traditions. I am perhaps on firmer ground saying that they are vibrant, pulsating and hypnotic.

The story of the Jewish refugees in Asia during World War II almost always centers on Shanghai. Plenty of books, movies, and plays tell how twenty thousand German and Eastern European Jews found their way to Shanghai when most of the world had closed their borders to Jews. But there was another place in Asia that also took in Jews fleeing Nazi Germany and Poland in the late 1930s: the Philippines.

The twilight of the Ming Dynasty in Southern China, with its elegant courtesans, poets and playwrights, pageants, drinking bouts and boat rides, bedazzled the generation which witnessed its fall in 1644. It inspired a literary legacy which has fascinated readers ever since. The Ming twilight in “Southland” is immortalized in Kong Shang-Ren’s (d. 1719)  classic opera “The Peach Blossom Fan”. Kong interviewed many protagonists of the late Ming, including Yu Hai (d. 1693), whose memoirs are translated here by Harvard’s Wai-Yee Lee. 

Introduction to Zen Training, Omori Sogen, Sayama Daian & Michael Kangen (foreword), Trevor Leggett (intro)
Introduction to Zen Training, Omori Sogen, Sayama Daian & Michael Kangen (foreword), Trevor Leggett (intro) (Tuttle, February 2020)

An Introduction to Zen Training is a translation of the Sanzen Nyumon, a foundational text for beginning meditation students by Omori Sogen—one of the foremost Zen teachers of the 20th century.

It somehow always feels in season to ponder when the Chinese Communist Party will have to grapple with a real challenge to its rule, and to cogitate over whether democratic governance is in China’s future. In Democracy in China: The Coming Crisis, Jiwei Ci, a philosophy professor at the University of Hong Kong, constructs an elaborate but cogent argument about how the CCP will only overcome its illegitimacy, along with other tears in the national fabric, by choosing to usher in political democracy, a change that Ci declares is “of dire necessity rather than moral luxury.”