How did Asia fare in the “Best Books” sweepstakes of 2019? This is partly keeping score, but there are also undoubtedly many excellent recommendations and hidden gems in these many lists.
This year’s subjective list of books we thought worthy of particular mention over the past 12 months. Fiction (in translation and not), poetry, short stories, essays, history, biography, literature, culture, politics, society, journalism, children’s books covering Asia from the Pacific to the Mediterranean, from Siberia to India.
2019 has been a standout year for Chinese soprano He Hui: the debut of three new roles; a successful run at the Met, including her debut Met Live in HD performance in Madama Butterfly and her 15th consecutive year (a first for a soprano) of singing at the Arena di Verona. And this weekend, He comes full circle as she returns to the Shanghai Grand Theatre, where she made her operatic debut in 1998, to perform Turandot, the Chinese princess of Puccini’s opera of the same name.
Chinese soprano He Hui made her Metropolitan Opera “Live in HD” debut on 9 November in the lead role in Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. This might not be quite the first time a Chinese singer has the lead in one of these international broadcasts—but then again, it might be—but it is still an extremely rare occurrence and worthy of note.
It seems somewhat surprising that not a single one of Leonardo da Vinci’s several thousand drawings had ever been exhibited in Hong Kong, but that was apparently the case until the opening of the “Art and Science, Then and Now” exhibition, running at the City University of Hong Kong Exhibition Gallery through 15 December.
Nicholas Gordon talks to Lindsay Varty, author of Sunset Survivors: Meet The People Who Are Keeping Hong Kong’s Traditional Industries Alive.
Asian Review of Books editor Peter Gordon was named “Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia” (“Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy”) at a ceremony in Hong Kong on 3 June.