On 2 September 1945, on the US battleship Missouri, US General Douglas MacArthur concluded the formal surrender ceremony of the Pacific War by stating: “Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world, and that God will preserve it always.” When the guns of the Second World War fell silent in Asia, peace did not return to the peoples of East and Southeast Asia. Instead, as Ronald Spector details in his meticulous and informative military history of the postwar Far East, the region “erupted” as a result of decolonization, civil wars, and the broader Cold War. The region became a vast “bloodlands” in which nearly four million combatants and probably close to 20 million civilians died. 

Printmaking was an art form that Japanese artists had excelled in the 18th and 19th centuries but which eventually experienced a decline in the 20th century. Yet, the early 20th century was a period in which Japanese arts in general underwent profound transformations with a growing familiarity with modern European art movements and modernism was certainly felt in the realm of printmaking. The shin hanga (“new prints”) movement reflects the syncretism of Western and traditional Japanese cultures as well as the influence of western codes on Japanese prints.

Calling for a New Renaissance, Gao Xingjian (Cambria, September 2022)
Calling for a New Renaissance, Gao Xingjian, Mabel Lee (trans), Yan Qian (trans) (Cambria, September 2022)

Nobel laureate Gao Xingjian presents his primary concerns of the past decade or so. He indicts the lingering impact of ideology on contemporary literature and art, and for this reason calls for “a new Renaissance”, a result of which would be “boundary-crossing creations” such as the three cine-poems that he produced and describes in detail in this book.

In his heyday in the years after World War Two, Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti was arguably one of the most successful and popular opera composers of the time. He took advantage of the circumstances, writing works that could be performed both on the opera stage and Broadway. His “Christmas opera”, Amahl and the Night Visitors, was the first opera specifically composed for television, at least in United States, and was a staple of pre-Christmas television for many years.

Scholar and professor Joseph Sassoon was never interested in his family’s history until he received a letter ten years ago from another Joseph Sassoon. The name is not common and, sure enough, this other Joseph was a very distant relative who had come across an article by Professor Sassoon about authoritarian regimes. The two spoke on the phone, which sparked interest in the family and led to Professor Sassoon’s new book, The Sassoons: The Great Global Merchants and the Making of an Empire, a story of a refugee family that reinvented itself in India, China, and ultimately the United Kingdom, and one that sometimes takes on biblical dimensions.