Despite the growing tensions between China and the West, one East-West relationship has endured with a continuing mutual fascination: that of Jews and Chinese, one increasingly reflected in literature and film. In particular, the story of the Shanghai Jewish refugees has enjoyed a resurgence over the past decade; Kirsty Manning’s novel, The Song of the Jade Lily, is one of the latest examples.
It is tempting to label Rollan Seisenbayev’s The Dead Wander in the Desert as an early example of what has now been come to be known as “cli-fi” (“climate fiction”): the book’s central motif, after all, is the human-engineered collapse of the Aral Sea.
The first Hawaiians ran late. Sumner La Croix claims they first voyaged from the Society Islands around 1250 when Kublai Khan was a boy rather than, as some others have it, twelve centuries earlier while Christ was awaiting death and resurrection. Discovery fed flood, with the long century that followed bringing new waves of immigrants to fill the land, before changing ocean currents slammed the door closed on economic migrants for four hundred years.
Wild Boar in the Cane field introduces a world of magic realism, in which a fly-covered baby girl, Tara, is found and raised by two mothers in a community rife with rituals and superstition. As she grows, Tara pursues acceptance at all costs. Saffiya, her adoptive mother, and Bhaggan, Saffiya’s maidservant, are victims of the men in their community, and the two women, in turn, struggle and live short but complicated lives. The only way for the villagers to find solace is through the rituals of ancient belief systems.
It requires an inventive streak to write extensively of a person whose known biography might only fill a few pages. This is the long shot taken in The Chinese Lady: Afong Moy in Early America, by historian Nancy E Davis, who refers to her as “the first Chinese woman to arrive in America.”
A compilation of reviews and other coverage in the past twelve months for Women in Translation month (August 2019): by author, translator and language. Click on the “link” symbol over each cover for the review, author, translator and publisher information.
This year Singapore celebrates its bicentennial, or rather, the 200th anniversary of the founding of the colonial city. Because of this milestone, there has been considerable soul-searching about the role of history in creating a people and WW2 naturally comes to mind. The war was not only one of the most traumatic episodes in the city’s history, but it was also one that catalyzed the unraveling of empire resulting in both independence and the trajectory it took.