As difficult as it may be now to imagine it, there was an Afghanistan at peace before the “forever wars” which now consume it. Nancy Lindisfarne-Tapper’s research among Piruzai Durrani Pashtun of Northern Afghanistan in the 1970s is a record of that other not-in-the-news Afghanistan.
Living along a border can be literally living on the edge, for borders are places of uncertainty where death, humiliation and misery can be all too common. As Suchitra Vijayan points out in her book Midnight’s Borders, this is where entire communities can become stigmatized as foreigners, illegals, smugglers and traitors.
Dismissal, in fact, is the default response to khayal (the preeminent genre of North Indian classical music), well before we get to know what khayal is, and vaguely term its strangeness “classical music”. Those who later become acquainted with its extraordinary melodiousness forget that on the initial encounter it had sounded unmelodious.
“Information” has become a core concept across the disciplines, yet it is still often seen as a unique feature of the Western world that became central only in the digital age. In this book, leading experts turn to China’s textual tradition to show the significance of information for reconceptualizing the work of literary history, from its beginnings to the present moment.
Cassia and Momo have everything to look forward to in 1979. They are expecting their second child, China is healing from the trauma of the Cultural Revolution and Momo has applied to US graduate programs in physics with the hope of eventually bringing his family there for more opportunities. Momo’s main reason for uprooting the family is to help the couple’s first child, a daughter named Junie, born three years earlier without her lower legs and feet. As events unfold, these plans prove more difficult to execute than first imagined.
In children’s literature and in young adult fiction, food is often used to bridge cultures—“dumplings are the great social equaliser” says the protagonist in the YA novel The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling as an example. And while food might be one of the easier entries into a culture, there are other ways too. Art, for example, which Singapore’s National Gallery does with success in its “Awesome Art” series.
Classically Russian in length and possibly ambition, Vladimir Gonik’s Orchestra, recently translated into English by Christopher Culver, might prove the sleeper of the year. Three interlocking narratives and families play out over almost 40 years with the doomed Korean Air Lines flight 007 as the linchpin.