Well, what can one say? The guy can write. Joshua Kam’s How the Man in Green Saved Pahang, and Possibly the World is quite the debut, accomplished, deft, unabashed and exuberant.
The histories of Japan and the United States have been intertwined for a hundred and fifty years. In her new collection of similarly interrelated short stories, Asako Serizawa both mines events from this history as well as reaches into the future.
Loosely inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Sonali Dev’s new book is enriched with culinary allusions, replete with the aromas of tea and spice and based in a modern South Asian family (of royal lineage), as was her prior Austen revamp.
When Excel Maxino turns ten, his mother, Maxima, takes him to Pier 39 in San Francisco, revealing a life-changing secret: She and Excel are TNT: tago ng tago, Tagalog for hiding and hiding. In his new novel, The Son of Good Fortune, Lysley Tenorio tells a captivating story of undocumented immigrants and their never-ending resolve to remain invisible so they aren’t found out.
“The challenges faced by the Vietnamese people throughout history are as tall as the tallest mountains,” writes Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai in the first chapter of The Mountains Sing. This is no exaggeration: wars, famine and political revolution test her characters, various members of the extended Tran family, to the limit. This engrossing family saga, both Quế Mai’s debut novel and her first book in English, provides a fresh, and ultimately uplifting, perspective on the American-Vietnamese war.
Jeong You-jeong’s Seven Years of Darkness opens in 2011 with young Choi Sowon living in Lighthouse Village, South Korea. The place is so remote GPS can’t locate it and so out of date that the president of its youth-club is sixty-one years old.
The title of this book is the first “imposture”, flouting the venerable approach of calling this 12th-century Arabic classic the “Assemblies” or the “Seances of Hariri”. Maqamat means a halting place, where an audience might sit around and tell stories. It can, at a stretch, mean “to get up”, focusing on the storyteller standing before his audience. With “Impostures” as the title, Michael Cooperson, a professor of Arabic literature at UCLA, puts us on notice not to expect a traditional translation. The Maqamat recounts in 50 episodes the impostures of the protagonist Abu Zeid, posing as beggar, poet, plaintiff, scholar or sufi, in order to con money out of his appreciative and affably gulled assembly of listeners. He succeeds in opening their purses by deploying the most dazzling verbal gymnastics imaginable. Acrostics, palindromes, rhymed verse, rare words, this does not even begin to describe the extent of Abu Zeid’s rhetorical arsenal.