Haruki Murakami is a big Raymond Carver fan. He translated Carver’s works into Japanese with great enthusiasm during the early 1980s, and in 1984 Murakami and his wife Yoko made the journey to meet Carver at his house on the Strait Juan de Fuca, just round the coast from Seattle. Though this West Coast rendezvous was their only meeting, Carver has influenced Murakami’s career on multiple occasions. When the time came to find an American agent, Murakami was drawn to Carver’s former rep, Binky Urban, precisely due to her connection with the American novelist.
Alan Mikhail’s much-publicized and lavishly-illustrated new book on Selim I, which he calls “a revisionist account, providing a new and more holistic picture of the last five centuries,” would seem, at first, to be a very welcome addition to a rather sparse list of books, especially biographies, on Ottoman sultans.
For the countries of Southeast Asia, geographical proximity to China is a blessing and a curse. In the Dragon’s Shadow, Southeast Asia in the Chinese Century, by Sebastian Strangio, manages to sketch the history these nations have with China and detail the current geopolitical situation in an engaging fashion. While the book is prefaced with an imposing list of acronyms for the political parties and economic agreements discussed, this Yale University Press publication is the work of a journalist with an excellent grip on history rather than an academic.
Last Mission to Tokyo is the story of the 1946 war crimes trial of four Japanese men for the torture and death of three American airmen who bombed Japan in the famous and daring Doolittle Raid four months after Pearl Harbor. It is told from the perspective of a US Department of Defense criminal defense lawyer who has defended accused terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and who has been publicly critical of the work of US Military Commissions in the so-called “War on Terror”.
Minority communities in South Asia are fascinating examples of movement of ideas, people, and religion. After the 1947 Partition, Hindus and Sikhs migrated from the newly formed Pakistan to the world over, and especially to India. The conversations about war and peace between the two countries tend to revolve around Hindus and Muslims. The religion of Sikhism may not configure into these issues, especially for the Western readers, and yet the Radcliffe line that partitioned the subcontinent also separates two of the holiest shrines of the Sikhs.
Short books: digestible in one sitting (think a cup of coffee or, in this instance, the final hour before school pick-up) and self-contained. The idea that few(er) words still pack a big punch. Increasingly, short books and series of short books are becoming more popular, their bite-sized format appealing to readers, writers and publishers alike.
In Russia’s far east, meeting a person alone in the wilderness is usually a bad thing. Some recluses in this remote region might be criminals of one kind or another: those hiding from law enforcement or those hiding from other criminals. But when conservationist Jonathan C Slaght ran into a man with “a crazy look in his eyes” and one missing finger living alone in an abandoned World War II hydroelectric station, rather than make a quick exit, he took the hermit up on his offer to spend the night.