Cantonese is only rarely included as part of broader discourses on language, but journalist James Griffiths (who lives in Hong Kong) has it as one of three languages considered in detail in his new book Speak Not: Empire, Identity and the Politics of Language.
Photographer Arseniy Kotov has a thing for “modernist” Soviet architecture and has made a career of documenting it via (this being now a decidedly post-Soviet world) Instagram, entries to which were gathered into a book Soviet Cities which has been followed by Soviet Seasons, a collection of photos divided into four quarters, nominally by time of year, but more specifically, perhaps, by region: winter in Siberia, the Caucasus in summer, Central Russia in the Spring and Ukraine in the Autumn.
The brilliant set of the Opera Hong Kong’s new production of Madama Butterfly, which opened on 6 October, is a panel set a few meters back from the front of the stage that emulates the front of a Japanese house. The room itself is set into this panel almost 2 meters above the stage floor. The ingenuity of the design however is that it also serves as a screen onto which full stage-wide and stage-high projections are cast: designs from Japanese prints, seascapes, crashing waves, gardens, calligraphy. The effects range from artistic to evocative or illusory.
Diversity, even—or perhaps especially—Asian diversity, in crime novels and dramatizations is of course nothing new: Inspector Ganesh Ghote first appeared in 1964; Priyanka Chopra debuted in Quantico in 2015. But, mirroring the real world, there is now diversity within the diversity. Bloody Foreigners, Neil Humphreys’s latest “Inspector Low” novel, this time has the bipolar Singapore detective being called upon by London’s Detective Inspector Ramila Mistry to help with the murder of moonlighting Singapore student Mohamed Kamal in Chinatown.
Anyone who has gone even slightly off the beaten track in Southeast Asia is likely to have come across “sea people”, which go by various names: Orang Laut, Sama Bajau, Chao Le, “Sea Gypsies”. These are the people covered in Sea Nomads of Southeast Asia From the Past to the Present, a recently-published collection of (very) academic essays.
Written when the composer was just 12, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s La Finta Semplice qualifies as a real rarity. After a performance the year following its composition, it dropped from the repertoire and was not staged again until modern times. That Musica Viva’s recent production at Hong Kong’s City Hall was a premiere seems beyond doubt, the only question being over how large a geographical area.
This story of business in China starts, alarmingly, with a hostage-taking over a commercial dispute. But rather than launching into a tale of business noir, the author admits that, well, the hostage-taker had a point: he had not in fact been paid.