Harry Franck died in 1962. This latest edition of his work consists of a few excerpts from his original Roving Through Southern China published in 1925. The original much larger book described two years of roving that took Franck as far as Yunnan, but these excerpts focus on the few months he and his family spent living in Canton in the winter of 1924. The excerpts are supplemented with some very useful footnotes from Paul French explaining some of the things Franck mentions that are no longer familiar to the modern reader.

Seicho Matsumoto was one of Japan’s most celebrated mystery writers —with two dozen novels to his name from the late 1950s, at a time when Japan was rebuilding after the war until just before his death in 1992—but only in recent years his work has been translated into English. Point Zero, translated by Louise Heal Kawai, is one of his early novels. The story, set in 1958 and the first part of 1959, takes place mainly in Tokyo and the western port city of Kanazawa and is defined by both the hope of the new era and the agonies of war.  

Edogawa Rampo (or Ranpo) was one of the most prolific Japanese mystery and crime writers of a century or so ago, and his work has remained in the public eye, whether in Japanese film, manga, video games, or translations. Born Taro Hirai, in 1923 he made his literary debut under a pen name chosen in homage to his literary hero, Edgar Allan Poe. He went on to write dozens of novels, novellas and short stories.

T his time last year, Penguin Southeast Asia released Amado V Hernandez’s first novel The Preying Birds (Mga Ibong Mandaragit), a classic of modern Filipino literature that had somehow more or less missed the attention of international publishers up to that point. This has been followed, in just the space of just twelve months, with Hernandez’s second and last novel Crocodile Tears—or Luha ng Buwaya, first published in 1962.

Earlier this month, Toho Studios released “Godzilla Minus One”—the 37th film in the now almost seven-decade-old franchise. Godzilla has gone through many phases over the past 70 years: symbol of Japan’s nuclear fears, cuddly defender of humanity, Japanese cultural icon and, now, the centerpiece of another Hollywood cinematic universe.

The giant reptile Godzilla has spawned a franchise of 38 films (and counting) and even has his own official website. But for all the fun of a rampaging 50m monster (or is he 120m?—he has grown along with Tokyo’s skyline), it’s easy to miss his origins as a powerful metaphor for the consequences of nuclear warfare. Shigeru Kayama’s novellas Godzilla and Godzilla Raids Again in Jeffrey Angles’s new translation restore Godzilla’s metaphorical roots.

Amid the scorching heat of August 1947, the Edo Tattoo Society hosts a spectacle that captivates the city: a competition to crown the person with the most exquisite body art. Held at a garden restaurant, their first post-War meeting draws a large crowd. Among the attendees is Kenzo Matsushita, recently returned from the war where he served as a military medic. He has only a passing curiosity about tattoos yet becomes completely swept up in the excitement of the evening.