Although the stories in Paul Yoon’s latest collection range from northern Vermont and the Costa Brava to the Russian Far East, and chronologically from 17th-century Japan to more less the present day, with stops along the way in Tsarist Russia and the Cold War, they all feature protagonists who are Korean in one way or another.
Although they certainly did trade indirectly via merchants traversing the Silk Road routes across the Asian continent, one of the most fascinating historical what-if tropes is whether ancient Romans and Chinese ever actually met. In Silk Road Centurion, a Roman centurion named Manius is taken prisoner by Asian tribesmen fighting for the Parthians, which leads to an epic quest to gain his freedom and return home.
The Idle Stance of the Tippler Pigeon opens with Nadia, an office worker married to unemployed and intoxicated Mubashir. Her menial office job just about pays the rent for a small shack in Gulberg, Lahore. During the day, she is at the mercy of her lecherous boss.
Like shapes in a kaleidoscope, poet and translator Maithreyi Karnoor bends and refracts her characters in this mercurial novel, Sylvia.
Hiromi Kawakami is one of the best-known Japanese writers available in English translation today. Her novels like Strange Weather in Tokyo are beloved by many English-language readers. But her most recently translated work, the short story collection Dragon Palace, is something very different.
Teresa Teng was a beloved singer across the Chinese diaspora, enjoyed by millions around the world even if they didn’t speak Chinese. Pim Wangtechawat titles her debut novel, The Moon Represents My Heart, after one of Teng’s most famous songs and scatters Teng’s lyrics throughout her book, a story of time travel between Hong Kong and London, spanning this and last century.
In a story in Agnes Chew’s impressive debut collection, Eternal Summer of My Homeland, a Singaporean woman named Nadine gets to know a German man and speaks to him about love, mortality, and philosophy. Mortality seems to be a theme throughout the collection of stories about regular people in Singapore. There’s nothing Crazy Rich about them, which perhaps is why they place so much thought on the decisions they make.