Konkani writer Damodar Mauzo’s collection The Wait and Other Stories, translated by Xavier Cota into English, stands out for its simplicity. One might expect it to be about Goa, the region in southwestern Indian where Konkani is spoken. However, the canvas of the storytelling is far wider.
Sayaka Murata’s English-language debut novel, Convenience Store Woman, caused a sensation when it appeared in a 2018 translation by Ginny Tapley Takemori. The story of an offbeat, thirty-something sales clerk at a “Smile Mart” helped spur a boom in English-language translations of Japanese literature, especially literature by women.
Fifty years ago, President Richard Nixon stepped off a plane in Beijing: a visit that changed the course of China, the US, the Cold war and the world. The stories in Gish Jen’s newest story collection, Thank You Mr Nixon, span the fifty-year relationship since then, from a Chinese woman press-ganged into translating for her Western tour group, to an English professor struggling to teach the wealthy Chinese students at his university.
Though death looms in Amanat: Women’s Writing From Kazakhstan, the collection sounds a celebratory note.
Don Ascher is a young American living in Kyoto in the 1970s. He is a student of Japanese. He also teaches English, works at a shabu-shabu restaurant, and hangs out in the company of gangsters, hostesses, housewives, tea teachers, and fellow foreigners. Set amidst the timeless beauty of the ancient capital and its garish modern entertainments, this collection of fanciful episodes from Don’s life is a window into Japanese culture and a chronicle of romance and human connections.
A swamp turns into a castle. A princess shapeshifts into a squid of one pound and four ounces. An ugly toad by day transforms into a handsome young man at night. A betrayed sister reincarnates into a black bird to haunt who hurt her.
Thank You, Mr Nixon, Gish Jen’s latest work of fiction, comprises eleven loosely linked short stories essentially about people in the flow of a modern Chinese diaspora.