In 1935, Ruth Day paid a six-week visit to her mother and step-father who were at that time living in Shanghai. When she returned, she published a short book on the trip. The book had a run of just 200 copies and seems to have quickly disappeared—but at least one copy found its way to the New York Public Library, where it was found by then PhD candidate Andrew Field, who contributed an introduction to its republication.
In the dead of winter, a Frenchman arrives at a small guest house in Sokcho where Franco-Korean author Elisa Shua Dusapin’s narrator works in a dead-end job as receptionist and run-about. Sokcho is a nondescript seaside town not far from the North Korean border. In the summer, Sokcho is a beach resort, if not the most upmarket; in winter, there is not much going on.
The first few weeks of January, falling as they do between the two New Years’, are culturally relatively quiet. The Hong Kong International Chamber Music Festival, now the Beare’s Premiere Music Festival, has long been one of the major events brightening this relatively uneventful period.
At first hearing, Stories of the Sahara sounds improbable: about a half-century ago, a young Chinese woman from Taiwan decamps to El Aaiún in the then Spanish Sahara.
As China and the West look at decoupling, it’s worth remembering that the world has been through this several times since they first coupled three-quarters of the way through the 16th century. That’s when the Manila Galleon connected Asia and the Americas, a trade that was, to mix metaphors, oiled by silver.
If you’ve never met Arkady Renko, erstwhile Soviet and now Russian cop, his most recent set of cases, this time in Asia—well, Siberia, to be exact—is as good an opportunity as any to finally become acquainted.
If there is any work that typifies “Viennese operetta”—waltzes, romantic comedy, catchy tunes and a certain silliness—it is Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow.