Janet Poole, a professor at the University of Toronto, in Patterns of the Heart and Other Stories has translated into English a collection of works by Choe Myong-ik, a writer whom she calls in her introductory essay an “exquisite architect of the short story form”. Following her essay, Poole presents nine stories, five from the colonial era (published from 1936 to 1941) and four in the postwar period (published from 1946 to 1952). Apart from “Walking in the Rain”, which she published in a bilingual edition in 2015, the stories in this book are available in English for the first time.

Punjabi Centuries: Tracing Histories of Punjab, Anshu Malhotra (ed) (Orient BlackSwan, April 2024)
Punjabi Centuries: Tracing Histories of Punjab, Anshu Malhotra (ed) (Orient BlackSwan, April 2024)

The historical and territorial space of Punjab has been politically and spatially unstable and changing, What Punjab means to different people also varies over time and context. Equally, what one holds dear about Punjab, the sense of “Punjabiyat/Punjabiness”, is both emotionally and culturally complex.

Joy, Despair, Illusion, Dreams: Twenty Plays from the Nō Tradition, Royall Tyler (trans) (Columbia University Press, April 2024)
Joy, Despair, Illusion, Dreams: Twenty Plays from the Nō Tradition, Royall Tyler (trans) (Columbia University Press, April 2024)

Nō drama, which integrates speech, song, dance, music, mask, and costume into a distinctive art form, is among Japan’s most revered cultural traditions. It gained popularity in the fourteenth century, when the actor and playwright Zeami (1363–1443) drew the favor of the shogun with his theatrical innovations. Nō’s intricacies and highly stylized conventions continue to attract Japanese and Western appreciation, and a repertoire of some 250 plays is performed today.

Our journey toward having a true understanding of world history passes through Central Asia, the lands in-between the great civilizations of India, China and Iran. William H McNeil’s classic Rise of the West (1963) vividly illustrated the role of Central Asia as a gearbox whose spinning connected these civilizations and propelled history forward. One had to imagine these gears as some kind of Buddhist chakras. But history cannot be based only through metaphors. Someone has to do the spade work to ground the chakras in hard facts: the shards, fragments, bones and rags that archaeologists uncover with their spades.