Enter the Wu-Tang. Return to the 36 Chambers. People listening to these albums by the Wu-Tang Clan and its members likely never knew about Sophia Chang: a Korean-Canadian woman who worked with members like RZA, ODB and Method Man. Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest called Sophia Chang “an integral part of the golden era of hip-hop”.
Indian Sun is a large book teeming with larger-than-life characters, not all of whom are called Ravi Shankar. Oliver Craske gives us a whole complex world, or, if you like, two complex worlds, Indian and Western, meeting, sometimes uneasily, through music.
As children, Shirley Ann Higuchi and her brothers knew Heart Mountain only as the place their parents met, imagining it as a great Stardust Ballroom in rural Wyoming. As they grew older, they would come to recognize the name as a source of great sadness and shame for their older family members, part of the generation of Japanese Americans forced into the hastily built concentration camp in the aftermath of Executive Order 9066.
The nature of obsession is just one of the questions Ed Caesar addresses in his new biography of Maurice Wilson, a First World War veteran determined to climb Everest alone and without oxygen.
“I’d kill a Chinaman as quick as I would an Indian and I’d kill an Indian as quick as I would a dog.” This chilling remark, recorded in a police report, was made in 1884 by a man who had taken part in the lynching of Louie Sam, a fourteen-year old indigenous boy from the Fraser Valley in British Columbia, Canada. He had been waiting to be tried for murder in New Westminster when he was kidnapped by an American mob, taken across the border and lynched, presumably because the alleged murder had taken place in Nooksack, Washington. It later transpired that two members of the lynch mob were likely responsible for the murder.
Some years back, graphic novelist Keum Suk Gendry-Kim interviewed an elderly Korean woman named Lee Ok-sun. Gendry-Kim hoped to learn about social class and gender disparity during World War II and write a book about this subject. But after several interviews, Gendry-Kim realized Lee’s personal story warranted a book of its own. The result is Grass, a graphic novel now out in an English translation by Janet Hong.
Yayoi Kusama and her iconic dots are instantly recognizable the world over, making the 91-year old among the (if not simply the—an article in The Guardian asks “Yayoi Kusama: the world’s favourite artist?”) most famous artists in the world. It’s clear she inspires many: one need only look at the countless collaborations or at #yayoikusama on Instagram. Her life and her art have inspired many a book and Elisa Macellari adds to the growing body with Kusama: The Graphic Novel.