Two young girls are snatched off a city street; the crime ripples through the wider community. A story that might have been set anywhere, but Julia Phillips sets hers in Kamchatka, one of the remoter parts of Russia’s remote Far East.
Like millions of Indonesian female workers abroad, Mega Vristian, the author of “The Jade Bracelet”, works as a live-in maid, performing domestic and care work. Their labor is indispensable in the global/regional labor market, which is in need of cheap, young female workers. At work, they face various forms of exploitation. It is this experience of inhuman working conditions that encourages some of them to take up a pen to tell and share their stories—sometimes in the form of a short story like this one.
Fiction exploring the interior life of contemporary Iranians is not well represented in translations readily available in the West. The Book of Tehran aims to begin to redress the shortage by offering ten stories set in the Iranian capital, with the authors’ different voices maintained by having each story translated by a different translator.
Ah, Tibet! This is the land of stupendous mountain vistas, prayer flags flapping in the breeze, monasteries perched precariously on hillsides and gentle orange-clad lamas chanting Buddhist prayers in incense-filled temples. And then, along comes Tsering Döndrup to spoil it all.
Before I read this wonderfully quirky book of stories, I had never given much thought to such things as trainer bras or lucky dry fruit, both of which feature in two of May-Lee Chai’s stories about Chinese immigrants and their reactions to their experiences in new countries.
The 15 stories in the book deal with the contradictions, paradoxes and ironies of Indian life. The combination of setting, memorable characters, clear writing, and themes suggest a vision of an expansive and vast country of wonder. Among the stories, “Hawana of the East” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize 2012. “Sunday with Mary” was part of the list for Best of the Net 2013 Prize.
Since the cinema that served as modern Hong Kong’s introduction to the world was such a hodgepodge of triad gangsters, crooked cops, ghosts, prostitutes and clueless romantics—sometimes all in the same film—one should hardly be surprised when a literary anthology shows the same genre-busting proclivities. Hong Kong Noir, the latest in a lengthy list of urban “Noir” collections published by Akashic Books, will surely raise the hackles of genre purists much as Hong Kong movies of the 1980s and ’90s initially did with filmgoers abroad. “Such a classic crime scene,” you can almost hear them say. “Why drag in the ghosts?”