“Greatest novelist.” I’ve never been much of a fan of someone being dubbed the “greatest” anything, as it assumes there can never have been anyone better and perhaps never will be.
With a surname like Silber, a book on silver is perhaps inevitable. And if you thought a book entitled The Story of Silver: How the White Metal Shaped America and the Modern World and published by the venerable and academic Princeton University Press would be a dull, dense, heavily-footnoted tome, you’d be wrong (although not about the footnotes).
The Earth may be divided among many countries, but since there is only one Heaven, there can be but one tianxia, or “all-under-heaven”. The Chinese concept tianxia might be literally translated into English as “sky-beneath”, and it has been variously rendered as “enlightened realm”, “world-system”, or simply “the world”. To keep Chinese scholars happy, just don’t translate it as “empire”. The West had empires. China had tianxia.
If it hadn’t been for Ezra Pound and a 20th-century literature course at university, I would never have heard of Li Bai, and even then I thought his name was Rihaku, because in 1915 Pound, who knew absolutely no Chinese at all, published a number of “translated” poems by Rihaku in a collection entitled Cathay.
The author and journalist Xinran has written a number of non-fiction books about women in contemporary China, but in her latest book she goes back in time to examine the changes in love and marriage since the Republican era. Much has been written about political, social, and economic changes in China since before the 1949, but few authors apart from Lynn Pan—who explored the common notion that love originated in the West before it arrived in China—have taken an intimate look the Chinese women’s private lives spanning four generations.
Asians, in general, need little convincing that the United States is, if not an empire per se, at least imperial. The title of How to Hide an Empire might therefore be seen as an attempt at irony.
A tiger hunt! In No Beast so Fierce, Dane Huckelbridge tells the exciting true story of the extirpation of a man-eating tiger in colonial India in 1907. This was no safari with a fleet of elephants and an army of bearers. It was one Irishman with a rifle and three cartridges on foot against a tiger that had killed and eaten about 440 persons over a span of about a decade. The numbers are inexact because deaths of rural women collecting firewood weren’t carefully recorded in those years.