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.
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.
The first Uzbek novel to be translated into English has been awarded the 2019 EBRD Literature Prize. Author Hamid Ismailov and translator Donald Rayfield will share the €20,000 award.
Agnès Bun’s debut memoir, There’s No Poetry in a Typhoon: Vignettes from Journalism’s Front Lines (translated from the French by Melanie Ho), has been named “Book of the Lunar Year” by the Asian Books Blog. This annual award is decided by a reader poll.
Western complaints about Chinese-manufactured copies are nothing new. In 1801, a certain Captain John E Swords approached Gilbert Stuart to purchase a copy of the painter’s famous portrait of George Washington. Stuart, who had burned before, extracted a promise from Swords as a condition of the sale that he would have no further copies executed.
How did Asia fare in the best books’ races in the English language press? On the whole, it seems better than last year. The following (unscientific) sampling uses a broad definition of “Asian” in it’s selection, but nevertheless, the number of books about Asia, by Asian authors, in translation seems to have increased in the past twelve months, at least as far as end-of-year listings are concerned.