“To satisfy Divine Justice, perfect victims were necessary, but the Law of Love has succeeded to the law of fear, and Love has chosen me as a holocaust, me, a weak and imperfect creature” wrote Korean-American artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha in her 1982 debut novel Dictee. Only two months after its publication, Cha was raped and murdered on her way to meet her husband and friends for dinner in New York City. She was 31 years old. Cha’s novel is  haunting, tragic, and defiant. Written in multiple languages and in a style both enigmatic and experimental, its accessibility is comparable to James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. Dictee is widely recognized today as a critically important text of postmodern, postcolonial, Asian-American literature and has enthralled scholars of Asian American literature since its publication. Forty years later, University of California Press has produced a restored version of Dictee. With the original cover and high-quality interior layout as Cha had designed them, this book is the most aesthetically appealing edition of the five that have been produced.

Paper Republic is an alliance of Chinese-to-English translators who have come together to promote Chinese literature in English translation, with a focus on new writing. It has now published its own guide to contemporary Chinese literature, a directory of authors and publications prefaced by six essays on different aspects of Chinese writing. Each entry in the directory includes a biography, and a list of selected works, subdivided by form—novellas, short stories, essays, etc.

The Art and Craft of Asian Stories: A Writer’s Guide and Anthology, Robin Hemley and Xu Xi (Bloomsbury Academic, September 2021)
The Art and Craft of Asian Stories: A Writer’s Guide and Anthology, Robin Hemley and Xu Xi (Bloomsbury Academic, September 2021)

An all-in-one craft guide and anthology that examines stories by leading writers from Japan, China, India, Singapore and beyond as well as those from Asian diasporas in Europe and America. While still taking stock of the traditional elements of story such as character, viewpoint and setting, Xu and Hemley let these compelling stories speak for themselves to offer readers new ideas and approaches which could enrich their own creative work.

Mo Yan Speaks: Lectures and Speeches by the Nobel Laureate from China, Shiyan Yu (trans, ed)
Mo Yan Speaks: Lectures and Speeches by the Nobel Laureate from China, Shiyan Yu (trans, ed) (Cambria Press, September 2021)

Mo Yan’s fiction has captivated a global audience for years, and his speeches are just as riveting. They provide rare insights into the complex thought processes of one of the most influential writers in the world. Mo Yan’s passion for this work comes across clearly in his lectures and speeches, reinforcing the strong emotions his works evoke in his readers. Many of these speeches have been translated into Japanese and Korean, and they are now finally available in English.

The Values in Numbers: Reading Japanese Literature in a Global Information Age, Hoyt Long (Columbia University Press, June 2021)
The Values in Numbers: Reading Japanese Literature in a Global Information Age, Hoyt Long (Columbia University Press, June 2021)

Ideas about how to study and understand cultural history—particularly literature—are rapidly changing as new digital archives and tools for searching them become available. This is not the first information age, however, to challenge ideas about how and why we value literature and the role numbers might play in this process. The Values in Numbers tells the longer history of this evolving global conversation from the perspective of Japan and maps its potential futures for the study of Japanese literature and world literature more broadly.

Popular American writer and speaker Natalie Goldberg, best known for her 1986 best-seller Writing Down the Bones, has been a student of Zen for thirty years. A wonderful storyteller, her writing is full of wisdom from Asia. Her new book is a pilgrimage to the places in Japan close to the heart of her favorite haiku poets. 

A young lady surnamed Yu died after obsessively reading Tang Xianzu’s play, The Peony Pavilion. The Ming/Qing literary critic and editor Jin Shengtan, took to bed for four days after reading certain lines of the same play. The encounter with great literature produces an aesthetic shock, comparable to becoming lovestruck. Since Plato and Aristotle, western literary critics have pondered the significance of these emotions provoked by art. Li Qiancheng’s Transmutations of Desire describes how Chinese literary critics addressed this phenomenon, and composed some of the most compelling descriptions and explanations for it.