Norman Erikson Pasaribu is an Indonesian poet whose debut collection Sergius Mencari Bacchus won the 2015 Jakarta Arts Council Poetry Competition. It was translated as Sergius Seeks Bacchus by Tiffany Tsao. Pasaribu’s recent collection of short stories, Cerita-Cerita Bahagia Hampir Seluruhnya, has also been translated by Tiffany Tsao, under the title Happy Stories, Mostly. The collection was longlisted for the 2022 International Booker Prize.
Paper Republic is an alliance of Chinese-to-English translators who have come together to promote Chinese literature in English translation, with a focus on new writing. It has now published its own guide to contemporary Chinese literature, a directory of authors and publications prefaced by six essays on different aspects of Chinese writing. Each entry in the directory includes a biography, and a list of selected works, subdivided by form—novellas, short stories, essays, etc.
My Pen Is the Wing of a Bird came about through the efforts of Untold Narratives, a UK-based organization which works to develop and amplify the work of writers marginalized by social, geopolitical or economic isolation, particularly those in areas with recent or ongoing conflict. In 2019 and early 2021, Untold put out open calls across Afghanistan, asking women to submit short stories in either of the country’s two languages, Dari and Pashto.
At the beginning of More Than One Child, Shen Yang writes, “I broke a law simply by being born.” She was her parents’ second daughter, and she is referring to the family planning laws which until recently saw China’s One-Child Policy strictly enforced. Her childhood was thus essentially intertwined with politics, but her memoir of that childhood does not serve a political narrative; it is instead a personal attempt to exorcise ghosts, heal old wounds, and secure recognition for “excess-birth children”, a community of young adults who are still suffering in China from their non-status.
Although there is a huge amount of fiction covering the Indian diaspora, it is more usually set in Western countries, including Australia, than in Malaya, as it was, and Singapore. In Kopi, Puffs & Dreams, a finalist for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize, Pallavi Gopinath Aney explores the experience of Indian immigrants to Singapore in the early 20th century. Aney’s subject matter will be new to many, her novel interesting as a record of Indian experience to the east of India.
Karine Khodikyan is one of Armenia’s foremost writers, with a body of work encompassing plays, film and TV scripts, fiction, and journalism. Armenian literature, like others of the Caucasus, is surely under-represented in the English-speaking world, but now Khodikyan’s collection of short fiction, The Door Was Open, has—via Nazareth Seferian’s smooth translation—been made available in English with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia.
In a welcome development for new voices and regional literature, Penguin Southeast Asia began publishing in Singapore in May. Among its first titles are two collections of short stories, The Heartsick Diaspora by Elaine Chiew, and Cursed and Other Stories by Noelle Q De Jesus.