At the beginning of Once Our Lives, Qin Sun Stubis’s family memoir, the author’s grandmother feeds a beggar because she feels sorry for him. She is pregnant with the author’s father at the time and goes on to break the traditional month-long confinement after giving birth in order to continue giving food to the beggar. What ensues, according to the grandmother, is a curse that plagues her son throughout her life, and the family indeed meets with much hardship. But so did most people in China between the years of 1942 and 1975, the time in which most of the multi-generation story takes place.
On 29 September 1985, four men arrive at the Mill House, located deep in the mountains of Okayama prefecture, for their annual visit, but the weekend quickly spirals into a sinister nightmare: two bodies are discovered, a guest goes missing, and a valuable painting disappears. Exactly one year later, the remaining guests gather again, hoping to put the past behind them. However, with the approach of a typhoon and the arrival of an unexpected visitor, an eerie sense of foreboding returns.
This is the first English translation of 2021 Suntory Literary Prize-winning author and visual anthropologist Itsushi Kawase. In this playfully-structured collection of stories and photographs, Kawase journeys from Japan to the Ethiopian streets of Gondar. Join him in Africa where he learns from a diverse cast of characters including local bards, prostitutes, musicians, priests, the homeless, spirit mediums and even a few deceptive guides. This work, translated by Jeffrey Johnson, is sure to surprise and captivate readers.
Latin America is home to a large East Asian diaspora, the result of much the same forces that created the not dissimilar diaspora in North America; the authors arising in that other diaspora, however, write in Spanish (and perhaps Portuguese, depending on how one defines things) rather than English. Very few of these works end up in English. The arrival of The Enlightenment of Katzuo Nakamatsu by Augusto Higa Oshiro in an inspired translation by Jennifer Shyue, is a glimpse into a world and literary tradition that English readers rarely get to experience.
“Angels Tapping at the Wine-Shop’s Door: A History of Alcohol in the Islamic World” by Rudi Matthee
Why are we surprised that, while Islam forbids wine, Muslims have been known to imbibe? Doesn’t Christianity prohibit adultery? In Angels Tapping at the Wine-shop Door, Rudi Mathee explores the contradiction between the formal ban on alcohol and the essential cultural role of wine in Muslims societies over the ages.
In 1856, the East India Company imposed the Hindu Widow Remarriage Act, allowing widows to remarry after their husband’s death. The Act was controversial at the time: Hindu traditionalists, particularly in higher castes, prevented widows from remarrying to protect the family’s honor, and even teenage and child widows were expected to live lives of austerity.
Korea was a unified, homogeneous country from the seventh century CE until 1945 when in the wake of the Second World War it was partitioned by the United States and the Soviet Union and formally became two separate states in 1948. Since that time, writes James Madison University history professor Michael J Seth, Korea has been a nation divided into vastly different social systems and “perpetually at war” with itself. Seth’s new book Korea at War attempts to describe and explain this geopolitical transformation.