Ten years ago, a spate of suicides at Foxconn’s factories in Shenzhen thrust the company into global headlines. These workers, part of a million-strong workforce, were involved in making Apple’s iPhone, the world’s premier status symbol smartphone. While the suicides are now mainly in the past, the issues raised in Dying for an iPhone remain pertinent to China’s labor situation and global manufacturing generally.
A Korean nonagenarian learns on the news that the last remaining “comfort woman” is on her deathbed. The narrator, unnamed until the end of the book, is determined to meet this last victim: she wants to know if she knew the woman from 70 years earlier. She also wants to assure her that she’s not in fact the last one left. The narrator has never told anyone about her past—not even her siblings and their children; it’s finally a chance to talk about it.
Asia has recently, and somewhat unexpectedly, been the source of some of the most exciting, and bemusing, discoveries in human evolution. In the context of the history of human evolution, or even the history of the study of human evolution, “recent” is a relative term; these developments date back to the first years of the new century when the discovery of Homo floresiensis, “Flores Man” aka “the hobbit”, put Asia back on the evolutionary front burner.
The title of Anukrti Upadhyay’s new novel is a Japanese word that literally means “to join with gold”. It is the art of repairing things that are broken to create strong, beautiful fault lines. These lines remain as reminders of something that was vulnerable. The lines in Kintsugi are visible right at the beginning when Upadhyay “joins” the two worlds of India and Japan; it’s a move that is still relatively rare for Indian writers even with today’s increasingly blurred literary boundaries.
An unnamed narrator addresses her lover: “I didn’t know your name when we first met. No one introduced us. The only thing I remember is that you were picking roadside elderflowers.” The relationship between the young Chinese narrator and “you”, the elderflower picker, progresses quickly and their relationship, from living on a houseboat to exploring Australian tourist towns, is explored through the fragments of conversations that make up Guo Xiaolu’s A Lover’s Discourse.
Bestiary opens with a quest for lost gold. Agong, to whom the gold belongs, has no recollection of where he stashed the two bars. His family upturns the yard in pursuit of the misplaced treasure, first by digging holes, then with a metal detector.
In his introduction to Inaka: Portraits of Life in Rural Japan, editor John Grant Ross promises this collection will not play into “wacky” Japan. There will be no treatises on love motels, maid cafes, or parades of fertility idols. Instead, Ross sets out to show rural Japan in all its splendor.