In Preeta Samarasan’s new novel, Tale of the Dreamer’s Son, the caretaker of a commune in Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands states that “some nations were sending people to outer space while our countrymen were busy butchering each other.” Mrs Arasu, the caretaker in question, was referring to the 1969 race riots in Malaysia, namely the May 13 Incident in which hundreds were killed, the majority of them ethnic Chinese. It’s this date that not only sets the tone for Samarasan’s novel, but also the 2010 award-winning Chinese-language The Age of Goodbyes by another Malaysian writer, Li Zi Shu, recently translated into English by YZ Chin, herself an author of some renown

How the world has changed in a few years. When Rong Xinjiang first published the papers collected in this volume, between 2002 and 2015, China’s Belt and Road Initiative had captured the world’s imagination. A flurry of scholarly research rediscovered historical ties between China and its western neighbors. Nowadays managing Covid is China’s highest priority. Deepening relations with neighbors is both less important and more difficult to pursue in the circumstances. Revisiting the flowering of the Silk Road has some echoes of and lessons for what is happening in China today.

Wild Grass and Morning Blossoms Gathered at Dusk, Lu Xun. Eileen J Cheng (trans), Theodore Huters (ed) (Harvard University Press, September 2022)
Wild Grass and Morning Blossoms Gathered at Dusk, Lu Xun, Eileen J Cheng (trans), Theodore Huters (ed) (Harvard University Press, September 2022)

This captivating translation assembles two volumes by Lu Xun, the founder of modern Chinese literature and one of East Asia’s most important thinkers at the turn of the 20th century. Wild Grass and Morning Blossoms Gathered at Dusk represent a pinnacle of achievement alongside Lu Xun’s famed short stories.

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.