Thursday, December 31, 2009

Asian Literature: Titles from Selections 98

Here are five Asian Literature titles that were featured in Selections 98.
  • Between Stations by Boey Kim Cheng. Boey Kim Cheng is a prize-winning poet with four published collections. Between Stations traces Boey's travels through India, China, Egypt and Morocco. In each place he visits, the cosmopolitan mix of peoples, the markets and crossroads, the overlays of history and religion, remind him of old Singapore and of his gambler father, who would return after long absences to walk with him down the vanished arcades and alleys, past the shophouses and hawkers' stalls. Boey's essays capture a historic moment in the modernisation of the Asian city; they chronicle the break-up and the resilience of the family.
  • Different Voices: The Singaporean/Malaysian Novel by Rosaly Puthucheary. Different Voices: Singaporean/Malaysian Novel focuses on the challenges that face a novelist in the literary representation of a multilingual environment. The early writers used strategies like vernacular transcription and mimetic translation. However, the close readings of 12 selected novels by non-European writers from 1980 to 2001 indicate the increasing use of strategies like lexical borrowings, code mixing, code switching and varieties of Singapore-Malayan English, instead. Puthucheary asserts in her book that the methods of language appropriation have a direct connection to how the writer conveys the multilingual nature of the Singapore-Malayan society through the speaking person while developing the central theme of the novel. The book maps out the verbal artistic representation of the speaking person and the correlation between speech and character in a multilingual environment.
  • Sudden In Youth: New and Selected Poems by Felix Cheong. Sudden in Youth: New and Selected Poems brings together the best of ten years of Felix Cheong's poetry, as well as his recent writings. Sucking up the marrow of his life, from crisis of faith to divorce, from fatherhood to being, yes, tattooed. Voices of killers and prostitutes. Poems at once intensely personal and universal about love, God and things that matter to the heart.
  • Tong Lei: Nan Nan Zhi Jian De Qing Shi Yu Ta Men De Xi Nu Ai Le by Ken Hong. Fictional stories based on the lives of gay and bisexual men living in Singapore. They reveal the everyday lives of these men as well as the struggles that they face as homosexual people. In the appendix 1, the author reflects on the process of "coming out". Local resources on HIV are also found in the appendices. In Chinese.
  • Writing Asia: The Literatures In Englishes Volume 2 - Sharing Borders: Studies In Contemporary Singaporean-Malaysia Literature II edited by Gwee Li Sui. This is Book Two of Volume Two of the Writing Asia series. This series contain significant studies of Singapore-Malaysian literature written in English since the 1940s. The 30 papers by leading scholars in both countries illuminate and analyse both the very considerable output of poetry, fiction and non-fiction works, the political, social and academic contexts from which they emerged, and also some of the controversies which have been associated with local writers and their views. With bibliographies and index.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Selections 98: Books on Singapore

These are the 4 new books on Singapore featured in Selections 98:
  • Men In White: The Untold Story Of Singapore's Ruling Political Party (Revised Edition) by Sonny Yap; Richard Lim and Leong Weng Kam. Men In White is the inside story of one of the world's most successful political parties, the People's Action Party (PAP). Based on more than 300 interviews and 200 oral history interviews conducted in Singapore and the region, the story is woven together by three Straits Times writers. The result is a dramatic account of PAP - warts, blemishes and all - and of the pivotal moments in its history which changed Singapore forever. Narrated in three parts, the story is told in a journalistic mode and enlivened with anecdotes, quotes and stories of human interest. Part One tells how Lee Kuan Yew, a Cambridge-educated lawyer, and his anglicised associates collaborated with radical Chinese-speaking trade unionists to drive out the British colonialists and how they fought each other. It also chronicles the party's clash with the ruling UMNO which led eventually to separation from Malaysia. Part Two captures the agonies of leadership renewal and charts the ascent of Goh Chok Tong, who succeeded Lee Kuan Yew as Singapore's second Prime Minister. It ends with Lee Hsien Loong taking over from Goh in 2004. Part Three wraps up the PAP story by delving into the key principles that characterise Singapore governance and concludes with the intriguing poser: will PAP outlive Lee Kuan Yew?
  • Singapore And Asia: Impact of the Global Financial Tsunami and other Economics Issues edited by Sng Hui Ying and Chia Wai Mun. This book is an annual effort by the economists at the Nanyang Technological University to provide analysis, interpretations and insights of contemporary economic issues affecting Singapore and Asia. It covers two key themes: (1) Global Financial Tsunami and (2) other economic issues affecting Singapore and Asia. The Global Financial Tsunami is currently ravaging the world financial systems and the world economy. The authors brilliantly tackle pertinent issues such as fiscal and monetary management of the current crisis, impacts of the crisis on the Singapore and Asian economies, policy measures implemented by Singapore and other countries to combat the crisis, and regional efforts to mitigate the adverse impacts of the crisis. A wide range of important economic issues affecting Singapore and Asia, including inflation, exchange rate, workfare, environmental economics, population and worth of human life in Singapore are addressed competently. The chapters build on economic and analytical frameworks to help readers better understand the economic and policy issues discussed.
  • Singapore: A Biography by Mark Ravinder Frost and Yu-Mei Balasingamchow. This substantial "biography" of Singapore draws on the resources of the National Museum as it brings to life people and events that since early times have shaped the island of Singapore. Anecdotes and sidelights as well as archival material make this both a scholarly and an accessible view of the country's people and development up to 9 August 1965. With high-quality illustrations, end notes, bibliography and index.
  • State, Society and Religious Engineering: Towards A Reformist Buddhism in Singapore by Kuah-Pearce Khun Eng. The book looks at how religion in Singapore is being subjected to the processes of modernisation and change. The Singapore State has consciously brought religion under its guidance. It has exercised strong bureaucratic and legal control over the functioning of all religions in Singapore. The Chinese community and the Buddhist Sangha have responded to this by restructuring their temple institutions into large multi-functional temple complexes. There has been quite a few books written on the role of the Singapore State but, so far, none has been written on the topic - the relationship between state, society and religion. It will help to fill the missing gap in the scholarly literature on this area. This is also a topic of great significance in many Asian, particularly Southeast Asian, countries and it will serve as an important book for future reference in this area of research and comparative studies.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Books on Mahathir

Following on from a previous post listing some interesting books on Mahathir, here are three more books providing further insights into this most enigmatic of leaders. In particular, the recently published Malaysian Maverick by Barry Wain has added to heated debates about his legacy (see some online posts here).
  • Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times by Barry Wain. The grandson of an Indian immigrant and the first Malay commoner to become prime minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad turned the Muslim-majority Southeast Asian country into one of the developing world's most successful economies. During his 22 years in power he adopted pragmatic economic policies alongside repressive political measures, and showed that Islam was compatible with representative government and modernisation. Abrasive and outspoken, Mahathir emerged as a Third World champion and Islamic spokesman by condemning the West, not least for trying to impose liberal democracy and neo-liberal economics on developing nations. By raising living standards and winning international acclaim, he contributed to a sense of national identity, pride and confidence among ethnically diverse Malaysians. But in mixing business and politics, Mahathir encouraged cronyism and failed to prevent the spread of corruption. Authoritarian and impatient, he jailed opponents, sacked rivals and undermined institutions as he pursued his obsession with development. In retirement, he broke a promise to stay out of politics, falling out with his two successors while using all available means to protect his legacy.
  • Dr. Mahathir's Selected Letters to World Leaders edited by Abdullah Ahmad. Seventy-one letters written or received by Dr Mahathir during his term as Prime Minister of Malaysia from 1981-2003 are reproduced for the first time in this book. His correspondence with George Bush, Jacques Chirac, Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher and Prince Charles reveal their contrasting positions on terrorism, globalisation, economic and diplomatic relations as well as war and conflicts.
  • Unmaking Of Malaysia, The: Insider's Reminiscences Of Umno, Razak And Mahathir by Ahmad Mustapha Hassan. What have two past prime ministers of Malaysia achieved, and what is the legacy they have left behind? While many have tried to provide answers to this question, few people have had the courage and determination to come forth and make their assessments public. The author, Ahmad Mustapha Hassan, takes the reader through the various phases of his involvement in the country's administration and in UMNO politics during the country's formative years. In particular, he focuses on the various facets of the administration of Tun Razak and that of Dr. Mahathir. This book therefore represents the first insider account of the post-independence administration of Malaysia in the 1970s and 1980s from a ringside observer's perspective. It should appeal to anyone interested in Malaysian politics, particularly those who want fresh and critical insights into the administrations of Tun Razak and Dr. Mahathir.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Hike It! in the Sunday Times

Hike It! Bras Basah & Waterloo was selected as one of the 5 books in the "Children" section of The Sunday Times's "Top 50 Gift of Books" list (December 13, 2009).

It mentions that the book is suitable for "parents and kids looking for shared activities to do". We couldn't agree more!
The press clipping is shown here:

We have now started work on the second book in the series. It will feature the area around the Singapore River. As part of the research, we hope very much to interview people who lived around that area from before the War to the 1950s, so as to incorporate their stories into the book. It will be great for children to read these stories and "experience" them while they walk around the area. Do contact us if you know of someone who did or if you are one of them.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Selections 98

We have just released the latest edition of Selections, our monthly catalogue of new titles: Selections 98. Here are five interesting titles from it:
  • Fisheries Exploitation in the Indian Ocean: Threats and Opportunities edited by Dennis Rumley and Sanjay Chaturvedi. This book aims to further the debate on the impacts of fisheries policies in the Indian Ocean Region in order to facilitate a new regional policy direction. A key argument of the volume is that ecologically sustainable and socially just development and management of Indian Ocean fisheries require a paradigm shift in the perceptions and policies of major stakeholders. A central policy challenge is to identify a collective regional interest for fisheries and accordingly the development of integrated management policies that link ecology and society and which incorporate individuals, communities, agencies, states and regimes into a holistic cooperative endeavour. Successful ocean governance therefore requires greater inter-state and inter-agency consultation and cooperation, an improvement in linking national initiatives to local action, increased participation of local government and local communities and the enhancement of local capability. In order to achieve this overall goal requires either the enhancement of existing regional institutions or the creation of a new regional body.
  • The Fajar Generation: The University Socialist Club and the Politics of Postwar Malaya and Singapore by Poh Soo Kai, Tan Jing Quee and Koh Kay Yew. The University Socialist Club (USC) was formed in February 1953. In the 1950s and 1960s the USC and its organ Fajar were a leading voice advocating the cause of the constitutional struggle for freedom and independence in peninsular Malaya and Singapore. The Fajar Generation tells the hitherto neglected story of a remarkable group of men and women who advanced a radical agenda of anti-colonialism, democracy, multiculturalism and social justice through the agency of the USC. Through personal memoirs and analytical essays the contributors to this collection illuminate the roles that they played in that extraordinary era of political turmoil in the modern histories of Malaya/Malaysia and Singapore, where different strands of nationalist thinking and competing political formations battled to define and shape the character of the future nation states.
  • Bodhisattva of Compassion: The Mystical Tradition of Kuan Yin by John Blofeld. She is the embodiment of selfless love, the supreme symbol of radical compassion, and, for more than a millennium throughout Asia, she has been revered as "The One Who Hearkens to the Cries of the World." Kuan Yin is both a Buddhist symbol and a beloved deity of Chinese folk religion. This 2009 re-issue of John Blofeld's classic study traces the history of this most famous of all the bodhisattvas from her origins in India (as the male figure Avalokiteshvara) to Tibet, China, and beyond, along the way highlighting her close connection to other figures such as Tara and Amitabha. The account is full of charming stories of Blofeld's encounters with Kuan Yin's devotees during his journeys in China. The book also contains meditation and visualization techniques associated with the Bodhisattva of Compassion, and translations of poems and yogic texts devoted to her.
  • Gender and Labour in Korea and Japan: Sexing Class edited by Ruth Barraclough and Elyssa Faison. Bringing together for the first time sexual and industrial labour as the means to understand gender, work and class in modern Japan and Korea, this book shows that a key feature of the industrialisation of these countries was the associated development of a modern sex labour industry. Tying industrial and sexual labour together, the book opens up a range of key questions: In what economy do we place the labour of the former "comfort women"? Why have sex workers not been part of the labour movements of Korea and Japan? Why is it difficult to be "working-class" and "feminine"? What sort of labour hierarchies operate in hostess clubs? How do financial crises translate into gender crises? This book explores how sexuality is inscribed in working-class identities and traces the ways in which sexual and labour relations have shaped the cultures of contemporary Japan and Korea. It addresses important historical episodes such as the Japanese colonial industrialisation of Korea, wartime labour mobilisation, women engaged in forced sex work for the Japanese army throughout the Asian continent, and issues of ethnicity and sex in the contemporary workplace. The case studies provide specific examples of the way gender and work have operated across a variety of contexts, including Korean shipyard unions, Japanese hostess clubs, and the autobiographical literature of Korean factory girls. Overall, this book provides a compelling account of the entanglement of sexual and industrial labour throughout the 20th century, and shows clearly how ideas about gender have contributed in fundamental ways to conceptions of class and worker identities.
  • Malay Peninsula: Old Photographs of Malaya and Singapore By Kleingrothe C. 1900 by John Falconer et al. This impressive volume presents a selection of works by German commercial photographer Charles J. Kleingrothe, who was active in the Malay Archipelago during the early 1900s. His large-format photographs are one of the key visual records of Malaya at a time of great transformation, and record life and landscapes in Malaya at the dawn of the 20th century. The book is based on the more than 100-year-old portfolio Malay Peninsula (Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States) from the personal collection of HRH Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, Sultan of Selangor. Slip cased.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Book launch: 冲出云围的朝阳

The book launch for 冲出云围的朝阳 was successfully held on 28 November 2009 at the National Library Board.

We were honoured to have a distinguished lineup of moderator and panelists for the panel discussion:

Moderator: Mr Lin Xingdao (Singapore media veteran)

Panelist: Dr Ong Yong Peng (academic)
Panelist: Mr Chen Keng Juan (former principal of Pei Chun Public School)
Panelist: Mr Tan Kok Siew (author)

A common theme from the panellists as well as audience members was the educational value of 冲出云围的朝阳, from a range of perspectives: educating a new generation of Singaporeans about our heritage; inspiring young Singaporeans through sharing how our ancestors overcame great difficulties through determination and perseverance; and using the book as a means of teaching Chinese in schools.

The turnout was great; in fact, bettet than
expected, so we had to scramble to find another hundred or so chairs, and even then, many had to stand.

Here are photos from the launch.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Books on Bhutan, Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon

This is a selection of book on Bhutan:
  • Hidden Bhutan: Entering The Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon by Martin Uitz. In 2006, Time magazine listed the King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, as one of the 100 "leaders and revolutionaries" who are changing our world today. Yet it was only in the 1960s that the first road linking the Kingdom with India was opened. Martin Uitz, a renowned expert on Bhutan, describes how the Bhutanese, in pursuit of the principle of "Gross National Happiness", are carefully moving towards a more modern future, including a constitution and democracy, whilst preserving their traditional society and conserving the environment. This modestly-sized book offers a fascinating insight into a little-known country that is engaging with the stresses of modernisation and opening up to the wider world in a unique way.
  • From the Land of the Thunder Dragon: Textile Arts of Bhutan (Reprinted 2008) edited by Diana K. Myers and Susan S. Bean. 2008 reissue of the 1994 illustrated account of the textile arts of Bhutan. The book originally accompanied the first major presentation of Bhutan's textile art in the West which took place at the Peabody Essex Museum, Massachusetts. Specialised papers are grouped and address: textiles in the country's cultural history; women and men in textile use and creation; and meaning and materials involved. Graphics and archival material as well as colour photographs of the exhibits indicate the beauty and diversity of Bhutan's past and present textile artefacts. With glossary, notes, catalogue of exhibits, bibliography and index.
  • Bhutan: Hidden Lands of Happiness by John Wehrheim. One hundred and eight fine, black-and-white photo studies illuminate the author's ruminative exploration of geography and life of the Himalayan country of Bhutan. The journey through mountains, ricelands and towns shows aspects of the structures and present, often age-old, ways of life of the kingdom's 480 000 people who are now starting to deal with new impacts from the globalising world. Stories, anecdotes and informal interviews offer insights into Bhutan's philosophy and its stated priority for happiness. Glimpses of future changes are seen and discussed as the book ends in the streets and nightclubs of the capital Thimphu Town.
  • The Dragon's Gift: The Sacred Arts of Bhutan (DVD Included) edited by Terese Tse Bartholomew and John Johnson. This impressive volume complements the ongoing international exhibition of the sacred arts of Bhutan, which is the fruit of many years of scholarly work by the Honolulu Academy of Arts and the religious and government authorities in Bhutan. Twelve illustrated essays by Bhutanese and Western scholars discuss the history of the country and some of its leaders and religious teachers, as well as the significance and conservation of its Buddhist artefacts and living traditions. The catalogue presents 100 sacred objects with colour plates, provenance details and detailed descriptions. The accompanying DVD presents the ritual dances, which are an important part of Bhutan's history and religious rituals. With glossary, time charts, lineages, bibliography, map and index.
  • Unbecoming Citizens: Culture, Nationhood, and the Flight of Refugees from Bhutan (Reprinted 2006) by Michael Hutt. Many general and local issues are discussed in this careful study of the situation of the hundred thousand refugees of Nepali ethnicity who, in the 1990s, were evicted from Bhutan and now live in refugee camps. The account of the history, culture, settlement and occupations of these now rejected and stateless people is enriched by interviews with refugees and authority figures. Issues relating to the problems and challenges of national identity, nation-building and international responsibility are explored against the backdrop of this ongoing tragedy of displacement. With bibliography, illustrations and index.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Books on Indonesia Art and Collectibles

Here is a selection of books on Indonesia art and collectibles:
  • Javanese Antique Furniture and Folk Art: The David B. Smith and James Tirtoprodjo Collections by Bruce Carpenter. Quirky, enigmatic and uniquely beautiful, the art and furnishings of Central and East Java's villages and palaces are little known to the art historians, museum curators and collectors of the world. Armed with all the charm and characteristics of folk art - bright, bold colours; na?ve forms and compositions; flattened perspective; anonymous origins; functionality; humour and social commentary - it is the product of a complex and ancient culture renowned for its ability to pick and choose from outside influences without impairing the integrity of the original. Javanese Antique Furniture and Folk Art celebrates this delightful art form with more than 300 colour photographs, while insights from experts reveal the history and fascinating culture embodied in one of the world's most impressive collections of Javanese art.
  • The Javanese Kris by Isaac Groneman. A substantial article by the Curator of the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam, introduces this first translation of the major 1910 study of the Javanese Kris by Isaac Groneman (1832-1912), Court Physician to the Sultan of Yogyakarta. New colour photographs drawn from several collections enhance the original study. This definitive study on the kris provides details of the processes of forging, selecting tools and materials, of styles and symbols, the significance of different handles, dress (sheaths), motifs, ceremonies, usage demands, and maintenance. All of these are detailed with illustrative drawings and photographs. With extensive glossary and some working diagrams.
  • Legacy in Cloth: Batak Textiles of Indonesia by Sandra Niessen. Weaving in the Batak region of North Sumatra is an ancient art practised by women, and exhibits some of the oldest design and technical features in the Indonesian archipelago. Since colonial annexation at the turn of the 20th century, innovative Batak weavers from the Lake Toba region in northern Sumatra have successfully adapted their art to new economic and social circumstances - but at great cost. In recent decades, weaving has fallen into decline and the tradition is threatened, while at the same time Batak textiles are highly prized in museum collections around the world. Legacy in Cloth offers the first definitive study of the woven heritage of the Toba, Simalungun, and Karo Batak. The most complete analysis of Batak textiles ever published, it provides a record of more than 100 different design types, including archival and contemporary photographs showing how the textiles are woven and how they are used in Batak culture.
  • Gerard Pieter Adolfs 1898-1968, The Painter of Java and Bali by Eveline Borntraeger-Stoll and Gianni Orsini. This major volume conveys the diversity and beauty of the works of the Dutch artist Gerard Pieter Adolfs (1898-1968). Adolfs was born to a Dutch family in Surabaya and became known as an architect and then painter of Java and Bali. After 1939 his career was mainly in Holland. Many examples of his art and design show the variety and extent of his oeuvre, most of which relates to Indonesia. The account of his life is interleaved with archival photographs, insets, and several hundred colour plates; his techniques and developing ideas are also discussed. With bibliography, catalogue of works 1923-67, and chronology.
  • Indonesian Odyssey: A Private Journey through Indonesia's Most Renowned Fine Art Collections by Helena Spanjaard. In this major volume the senior art historian Dr Helena Spanjaard has brought together some 230 Indonesian paintings in 21 private collections in Indonesia which are normally not open to the public. The artists are either locally born or foreign - mostly Dutch - who worked in Indonesia. The paintings reflect both international training and ideas and indigenous traditions and techniques many of which have been redeveloped into new forms in recent years. The selected paintings are by both widely acclaimed artists and the almost unknown. They are complemented by interviews and thoughtful commentaries and the fact that the colour plates are of outstanding quality.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Books on The Philippines

Over the last year or so, we have added significantly to our Philippines collection. Here are a selection of recent additions, chosen from different genres:
  • The Philippines: Mobilities, Identities, Globalization by James Tyner. Nearly five million migrant workers from the Philippines are employed in over 190 countries and territories. They work as doctors and domestic helpers, engineers and entertainers, seamstresses and surveyors. It is through their collective labour that the Philippines has assumed a global presence. For over five centuries the Philippines has been integrated into the world economy. Only recently, however, has the Philippines been a pro-active agent in the production of a global economy. Since the 1970s the Philippine state, in connection with myriad private institutions, has recruited, trained, marketed, and deployed a mobile work-force. Annually, approximately one million migrant workers travel to all corners of the world. The Philippines seeks to understand how the Philippines has become the world's largest exporter of government-sponsored temporary contract labour and, in the process, has dramatically reshaped both the processes of globalisation and also our understanding of globalisation as concept.
  • Amazons of the Huk Rebellion: Gender, Sex, and Revolution in the Philippines by Vina A. Lanzona. Labelled "Amazons" by the national press, women played a central role in the Huk rebellion, one of the most significant peasant-based revolutions in modern Philippine history. As spies, organisers, nurses, couriers, soldiers and even military commanders, women worked closely with men to resist the Japanese occupation and after World War II, to challenge the new Philippine republic. Vina Lanzona explores the Huk rebellion through the individual and collective experiences of its female participants. She demonstrates how the Huk women's presence raised complex questions of gender, family, and sexuality, and ultimately shaped the nature of the revolutionary struggle. With notes, bibliography and index.
  • Philippine Gay Culture: Binabae to Bakla, Silahis to Msm by J. Neil C. Garcia. Philippine Gay Culture is a descriptive survey of popular and academic writings on and by Filipino male homosexuals, as well as a genealogy of discourses of male homosexuality and the bakla and/or gay identities that emerged in urban Philippines from the 1960s to the present. This conceptual history engages recent events in the Philippines' sexually self-aware present, but also explores colonial history in showing how modernity implanted a new sexual order of "homo/hetero" and further marginalized the effeminate local identity of bakla. Garcia analyses several works by bakla writers and artists that narrate hybridity, appropriation, and postcolonial resistance and in their own way, enriched Philippine gay culture and the Philippines as a whole.
  • Presidential Bandwagon: Parties and Party Systems in the Philippines by Yuko Kasuya. In the wake of democratisation, one of the biggest challenges facing new governments is managing a smooth transition to democratic rule. How can newly elected governments stabilise their hold on power and consolidate democratic process? This book explores this issue by focusing on one of the most pressing issues in consolidating democracy: the stability of party politics. Applying both qualitative and quantitative analytical techniques and focusing on the case of the Philippines from a comparative perspective, the book analyses why the party system changed from a stable two-party system to an unstable multi-party system in the aftermath of democratisation in the Philippines. It also examines other issues such as patronage in elections, the pork barrel process and party organisation structure. With bibliography and index.
  • After The Romance: Communities and Environmental Governance in the Philippines by Karin L Gollin and James L. Kho. The Philippines has been a pioneer in granting communities greater involvement in managing natural resources, including forests, coastal resources and irrigation water. This book presents a collection of papers from a large review of Philippine community-based natural resource management. It focuses on the crucial role of governance in the pursuit of sustainability, with recommendation on issues ranging from property rights to compensation mechanisms, from international treaties to local multi-stakeholder bodies. With index.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Christmas Promotion 2009

We have started our Christmas Promotion at Select Books. This year, customers buying any two titles (or even two copies of one title) from a selected list of titles will enjoy a 25% discount on the second book.

While stocks last!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Book Launch: 冲出云围的朝阳

The book launch for 冲出云围的朝阳 will be held this Saturday (28 Nov 2009) at Imagination Room, National Library Board.

Date: 28 Nov 2009.
Time: 10:00am -12:00pm
Location: Imagination Room, National Library Board

The moderator and panelists for the panel discussion will be:

Moderator: Mr Lin Xingdao (Singapore media veteran)
Panelist: Dr Ong Yong Peng (academic)
Panelist: Mr Chen Keng Juan (veteran educator)
Panelist: Mr Tan Kok Siew (author)

As there is insufficient time for English presentations, the panel discussion will only be in Mandarin. However, English speakers are welcome to ask questions in English during the Q&A.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Our First Chinese Publication

Select Books is proud to announce the publication of our first Chinese book - 冲出云围的朝阳 (The Morning Sun Breaking Out of the Clouds).

It is the first book published under our new Chinese imprint 精选.

The author is ex-journalist Tan Kok Siew.

This is a novel about the life of a Hainanese family from the late Qing dynasty to the present time. In it, one follows the story of how the family survived great hardships in a poverty-stricken village in Hainan, China and found hope and future in their adopted land of Singapore.

It tells of a determined and resourceful young man who started life in colonial Singapore as a coffee-shop assistant, peddling bread and kaya on a rickety bicycle along the streets of Katong who later overcame the odds to become a successful contractor for the British colonial administration.

The author traces the difficult life the family led, especially during the unsettling days of the Japanese Occupation and the turbulent fifties. However, the trials and tribulations did not deter the third generation of the family, who found success in different pursuits around the world.

Written with a fine journalistic eye honed through a long career as a reporter in a local Chinese daily, the author brings a strong humanistic touch to this vivid and often moving portrayal of events and personalities, not just in Singapore and Hainan, but also in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Pakistan, and Canada.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Books on Chinese Overseas

Dan Feng and Ting Hway's wedding solemnisation yesterday (15 November 2009) at the Chinese Heritage Centre, Nayang Technological University, is the inspiration behind this post. Congratulations and warm wishes to them!

Whilst at the reception, I had the opportunity to pop into the current exhibition at the Centre: Chinese More Or Less: An exhibition on Overseas Chinese Identity. Conceptualised by the Centre’s former director, Ms Lynn Pan, who is herself the author of the book Sons of the Yellow Emperor and editor of The Encyclopedia of the Chinese Overseas, the theme of “Chineseness” and Chinese Identity is explored and translated into visually interesting exhibits.

So, on the theme of overseas chinese, here are some recent books we recommend:
  • Beyond Chinatown: New Chinese Migration and the Global Expansion of China edited by Mette Thuno. The papers in this volume were originally presented at the Fifth Conference of the International Society for the Study of the Overseas Chinese, held in Copenhagen, May 2004. A group of scholars from multiple disciplines convened to present new theories and empirical data about Chinese migration as well as to discuss the significance of the contemporary situation of Chinese migration compared with the historical, and in the light of China's rise today as an economic and political power.
  • Sun Yat Sen in Penang by Khoo Salma Nasution. Archival photographs and records enhance this account of the legacy and contacts in Penang of Dr Sun Yat Sen (1866-1925). When Dr Sun was banned from Japan he focused his efforts on gaining support from the Overseas Chinese for the revolutionary movement. His headquarters became 120 Armenian Street, Penang; now conserved. The Sun family lived in Penang 1910-1912 and his impact and legacy in Penang is shown in many of the educational and other buildings illustrated. With sketch map, bibliography, chronology and index.
  • The Chinese Diaspora: Space, Mobility and Identity by Laurence J.C. Ma and Carolyn Cartier. In this first book to explore the Chinese diaspora from geographical perspectives, leading scholars in the field consider the profound importance of meanings of place and the spatial processes of mobility and settlement for the Chinese overseas. They trace the Chinese diaspora everywhere it has become a significant force, from Southeast Asia to Oceania, North America, Latin America, and Europe. Providing an important historical perspective, the contributors analySe the sharp differences between sojourning Chinese prior to the 1960s and the transnational Chinese of the current era, especially in terms of spatial distribution, mobility, economic status, occupational structure, and identity formation.
  • Chinese Overseas: Migration, Research and Documentation edited by Tan Chee-Beng; C. Storey and J. Zimmerman. These 16 separately referenced papers are from the 2003 International Conference of Institutes and Libraries for Chinese Overseas Studies in which librarians, archivists, and scholars explored the often-untilled fields of resources which could reveal new knowledge of Chinese Overseas' history and ways of life. The insightful introductory paper by Wang Gungwu overviews the diverse and often personal ways by which Chinese migrations can be illuminated and understood. Subsequent papers range over the world scene and are grouped as: Research and Documentation; Sources and Documentation; and Libraries, Archives and Exhibitions. Indexed.
  • Understanding the Ethnic Chinese in Southeast Asia by Leo Suryadinata, Leo. About 80 per cent of the ethnic Chinese outside China (also known as the "Chinese overseas") live in Southeast Asia. This book examines that community in the context of both national and international dimensions. It first discusses the ethnic Chinese and China, addressing the issues of migration, nationality, business success and ethnic conflict; second, Chinese cultural adaptation and various identities; and third, case studies of the Chinese in Indonesia, external actors, the state, and ethnic Chinese politics. Professor Suryadinata has written extensively on the subject of the Chinese overseas. The essays in this book were written between 1987 and 2005, and have previously been published in other books and journals.
  • Journal of Chinese Overseas edited by Ng Chin-Keong and Tan Chee-Beng et al. This cross-disciplinary journal publishes research articles, reports, and book reviews on Chinese overseas throughout the world, and the communities from which they trace their origins. Moving across regions and disciplines, the Journal examines Chineseness in its many diverse settings. With a Board of Editors drawn from fields as diverse as history, anthropology, sociology, geography, cultural studies, and political science, the Journal contributes to transnational studies, as well as the study of Chinese communities in specific national settings.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Recommended Children's Books - Nov 09

Here are some children's books with Asian themes that we recommend:
  • Chinese Cinderella: The Mystery of the Song Dynasty Painting by Adeline Yen Mah. Is she dreaming, or has Chinese Cinderella lived a previous life? Following a fall at the river town of Feng Jie, Chinese Cinderella is whisked away to hospital. There she sees a copy of an ancient painting, 'Along the River at Qing Ming'. As she lapses in and out of consciousness, she is haunted by vivid dreams that seem strange, yet somehow familiar. A tale emerges, of friendship, wealth and poverty, eunuchs and an Emperor who loved art, as Chinese Cinderella recalls a life lived eight hundred years ago during the Song Dynasty. But is it real, or all in her imagination...
  • Georgette's Mooncakes by Adeline Foo; illustrated by Lee Kowling. Two little girls find themselves caught up in the middle of an uprising in ancient China, as the Chinese revolt against their Mongol rulers. With a backdrop of mystical Chinese lanterns and monstrous Japanese kites, this story traces the origin of the Mid-Autumn Festival, weaving in the magic of mooncakes painted by one of Singapore's pioneer artists, Georgette Chen.
  • Baby Panda Finds His Way by Emily Lim; illustrated by Li Dan. This is the second book in the 'Asian Values' series, which aspires to introduce children to Asian values in an accessible and enjoyable way through simple, engaging and thought-provoking stories. In this book, Baby Panda learns about the importance of Respect. Baby Panda was not very good at showing respect - to his mother, his elders or even to his environment. One day, he becomes lost. With the help of Tiger, Baby Panda is finally reunited with his mother, but not before he has learnt about the importance of respect. The first book in the series is Water Buffalo's Reward.
  • Under The Cherry Blossom Tree: An Old Japanese Tale by Allen Say. There were eggs in every bird's nest, the air buzzed with honeybees, and cherry trees bloomed all at once. The poor villagers forgot their cares and gathered in the meadow to sing and dance their time away. But their miserly landlord refused to be happy. Mumbling and grumbling, he sat all alone eating a bowl of cherries and glaring at the merry villagers. Then, quite by accident, he swallowed a cherry pit. The pit began to sprout. Soon the landlord was the wonder of the village - a cherry tree was growing out of the top of his head! What happened to the cherry tree and to the wicked landlord is a favourite joke in Japan. Illustrator and storyteller Allen Say recounts this tale with wit and vitality, and his beautiful drawings complement this classic Japanese tale.
  • Hachiko Waits by Newman Leslea. Inspired by the true story of Hachi, the faithful dog in Japan that would wait at the train station for its master long after the man had died. This is a profoundly touching story about loyalty and devotion, suitable for readers aged 8 years and older.
  • Fatimah and Her Magic Socks by Zizi Azah Abdul Majid and Izmir Ickbal. Lively colour illustrations enhance the tale for small children of how a young girl, enpowered by the lion of her imagination, takes her journey which encourages independent thinking. The story is related to a production of Singapore's innovative Teater Ekamatra.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Tessellated Path

Dr. Rosaly Puthucheary’s first novel, The Tessellated Path, was launched on 1 November, 2009 at the Arts House as part of the Singapore Writers Festival.

Dr. Rosaly Puthucheary received her doctorate in English Literature from the National University of Singapore. Her earlier publications were on poetry: Pillow Your Dreams (1978), The Fragmented Ego (1978), Dance on his Doorsteps (1992), Footfalls in the Rain (2008) and Mirrored Mirages (2008).

In her remarks at the book launch, Rosaly said that she had started writing the novel in 1996, just as she was approaching retirement, and had completed it substantively by 2001. While writing the novel, she became conscious of the challenges faced by writers in Singapore and Malaysia. This insight helped her to formulate the proposal for her doctoral thesis, which she started in 2002. The completed thesis has now been published by ISEAS as Different Voices: The Singaporean/Malaysian Novel.

On why she had chosen “The Tessellated Path” as the title, Rosaly said that it reflected our journeys in life. Each of our journeys is “like a mosaic pattern, with happy moments and unhappy moments; uneventful periods mixed with momentous events; adrenalin-propelled actions and lethargic inactive existence.”

Responding to a question about the deliberate weaving in of the political developments of Singapore and Malaysia into her novel, Rosaly said that it was an important aspect of the novel as it provided the context for the protagonist Lisa’s journey of self-discovery. She added that it was also subconsciously a reflection of the deep emotional and psychological impact that her two brothers’ association with these political developments had had on her as well as her family.

Here are photos from the book launch:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Book Launch: The Tessllated Path

The Tessellated Path, Dr. Rosaly Puthuceary's first novel, will be launched on Sunday, 1 Nov 2009, at the Earshot Cafe as part of the Singapore Writer's Festival.

At the event, Rosaly, an English literature doctorate holder who has also previously published poetry collections with Select Books, will also launch
Different Voices: The Singaporean/Malaysian Novel. This second book focuses on the challenges that a novelist faces in the literary representation of a multilingual environment, and is published by ISEAS.

The Tessellated Path
Set is in the background of Singapore's struggle for independence, and the narrative explores the notion of predestination. Determined to live a life far removed from that of her mother's and grandmother's, the protagonist, Lisa, sets off on her own to discover a life beyond her comfort zone. In this journey of discovery, she is wrenched from her traditional mode of thinking as she confronts betrayal, homosexuality, wife-battering, murder, suicide, fraud and lechery. Interwoven with these are the historical moments which shaped the development of Singapore from a British Crown Colony to an independent nation. Although the narrative is rooted in autobiographical parallels and details, the portrayal of characters and dialogues are fictitious.

In The Tessellated Path, Rosaly has constructed an engrossing tale with allusions to the myths and legends of this region. The Vedic astrological sign, the Dragon's Tail, which hangs like a hostile force over the protagonist, becomes a metaphor for the unknown forces she must encounter to finally reach her destiny.

Do join us for the launch!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Baby Panda Finds His Way

The second book in our Asian Values series has been published! Baby Panda Finds His Way was published on 28 Oct 2009 and shall be available in all major bookstores.

The Asian Values series was published with the support of the Media Development Authority of Singapore. It was the launch series for our children's book imprint, Autumn Wonders. The first book in the series, Water Buffalo's Reward, was published in January 2009. The series aims to introduce children to Asian values in an accesible and enjoyable way through simple, engaging and thought-provoking stories.

The value introduced in Water Buffalo's Reward is Diligence. In Baby Panda Finds His Way, the value introduced is Respect.

Baby Panda was not very good at showing respect—to his mother, his elders or even to his environment. One day, he becomes lost. With the help of Tiger, Baby Panda is finally reunited with his mother, but not before he has learnt about the importance of respect.

Both books in the series are illustrated by Li Dan. Li Dan is an illustrator and designer based in Singapore. She has a Masters in Illustration from Edinburgh College of Art, UK, and is adept at different illustration styles and media. Her work has appeared in many major publications, books, magazines, advertisements and won awards, including the Victoria and Albert Illustration Awards 2005. Her portfolio can be viewed at

The author for Baby Panda Finds His Way is Emily Lim. Emily is the award-winning author of Prince Bear & Pauper Bear, The Tale of Rusty Horse, Just Teddy and Bunny Finds the Right Stuff. She is the first in Asia to be awarded two prestigious IPPY awards at the world’s largest book awards. Her books have also been made into cartoons and were recently aired on television. More information about Emily and her books can be found at

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Books on Piracy and Maritime Security in Asia

Maritime security is increasingly an area of concern for Southeast Asian nations, with piracy in particular threatening the economic growth of an area that is hugely dependent on sea-borne trade. Here are some recent books dealing with this issue:
  • Maritime Counter-Terrorism: A Pan-Asian Perspective edited by Swati Parashar. These 21 separately referenced specialist papers are from the 2004 New Delhi workshop of the Observer Foundation and address the measures taken by Asian nations to deal with maritime piracy and terrorism. The grouped papers explore: the vulnerabilities and capabilities of military, air and police forces; threat perceptions in South Asia, in Southeast Asia, and in Australia and East Asia; actors to watch in maritime piracy, armed robbery and in political groups, including the Tamil Tigers; the final section offers critical evaluations of the efforts and dynamics of ongoing maritime counter-terrorism.
  • Contemporary Maritime Piracy in Southeast Asia: History, Causes and Remedies by Adam J. Young. This book explores contemporary maritime piracy in Southeast Asia, demonstrating the utility of using historical context in developing policy approaches that will address the roots of this resurgent phenomenon. The depth and breadth of historical piracy help highlight causative factors of contemporary piracy, which are immersed in the socio-cultural matrix of maritime-oriented peoples to whom piracy is still a thinkable option. The threats to life and property posed by piracy are relatively low, but significant given the strategic nature of these waterways that link the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and because piracy is emblematic of broader issues of weak state control in the littoral states of the region. Maritime piracy will never be completely eliminated, but with a progressive economic and political agenda aimed at changing the environment from which piracy is emerging, it could once again become the exception rather than the rule. With glossary of selected terms, bibliography and index.
  • Maritime Security in Southeast Asia edited by Kwa, Chong Guan and John K Skogan. This book examines maritime security challenges in Southeast Asia and the responses that they provoke. Maritime security is an issue that has, over the last 20 years, taken on a much greater importance, due to the Law of the Sea Convention, which has resulted in the 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). As well as traditional security threats to maritime security, there has also emerged a range of non-traditional threats, such as piracy and international terrorism, which spill over into the maritime domain. Events such as September 11 and the designation of Southeast Asia as a 'second front' in the war against terrorism, have resulted in the growing realisation that multilateral security cooperation is required in order to manage the security of the seas. Expert contributors, including many from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, identify the nature of Southeast Asia's maritime security problem. They also critically evaluate the various responses by countries and organisations within and without the region. With bibliography and index.
  • Piracy, Maritime Terrorism And Securing The Malacca Straits edited by Ong-Webb and Graham Gerard. Maritime piracy continues to persist as a significant phenomenon manifesting a range of social, historical, geo-political, security and economic issues. Today, the waters of Southeast Asia serve as the dominant region for the occurrence of piracy and the challenges it poses to regional security and Malacca Straits security. As a second installment within the Series on Maritime Issues and Piracy in Asia by the International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden University, and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, the authors of this volume add fresh perspectives to the ongoing debate about piracy, the threat of maritime terrorism, and the challenge of securing the Malacca Straits today. This volume of expert contributions opens with a global and regional outlook on maritime terrorism before proceeding to examine: the transnational threats to security at sea; piracy in the waters of the Philippines; the similarities and differences between the security situation in the Malacca Straits and in the Southern Philippines; the politics of security policies in Southeast Asia; anti-piracy security forces; the rise of important new seaports in Asia; the Regime Navigation on the Danube as a possible model; security cooperation within Asean; and maritime history in the region, 1511-1839.
  • Realising Safe and Secure Seas For All: International Maritime Security Conference 2009 edited by Joshua, Ho. This volume is a compilation of the proceedings arising from the inaugural International Maritime Security Conference 2009 held on 13-14 May 2009 in Singapore. The conference sought to promote global maritime safety and security and to update maritime practitioners on the latest cooperative efforts and technological developments in the maritime domain. Senior naval officers and officials from Australia, China, France, India, Italy, Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom, the United States and the International Maritime Organisation presented at the conference, and their papers are included in this volume.
  • Sea Pirates by S.S. Narayan. Narayan provides a detailed description about sea pirates from the ancient periods to the present. Chapter titles include History of Piracy; Flags and Weapons of the Sea Pirates; Sea Piracy in Somalia; Renaissance Trade Routes; and Pirate Punishment. With bibliography and index.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Books on Southeast Asian Economies and Economic Policies

Here is a selection of recent titles on Southeast Asian economies and economic policies:
  • Singapore: Trade, Investment and Economic Performance by Ramkishen S. Rajan and Shandre M. Thangavelu. Singapore's rapid evolution from a modest trading post under colonial rule into a prosperous, self-confident nation is one of the notable success stories of the second half of the 20th century. International trade and investment linkages have been the cornerstones of the city-state's economic success (more than 7 per cent per annum during the period 1970-2005). This book offers an overview of the Singapore economy with emphasis on its global trade and investment linkages and policies. It analyses patterns and policies of Singapore's trade and foreign direct investment and discusses issues related to its services sector, focusing on its multilateral and bilateral commitments.
  • Asian Industrial Clusters, Global Competitiveness and New Policy Initiatives edited by Bernard Ganne and Yveline Lecler. These 17 papers on Asian Industrial clusters and associated issues come from the field studies and research 2002-2006 in China, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and West Malaysia by the University of Lyon and the National Scientific Research Centre. The first section deals mainly with policy issues. Then detailed discussion of local and national patterns and situations and their contexts enable understanding of the success or otherwise of the very varied models adopted.
  • Economics in Public Policies: The Singapore Story by Tan Say Tin, Leong Foong Lin et al. Designed to enlarge public understanding and in a style accessible to a wide readership, this is an account of the economic rationale and underpinnings of key government policies which influence or enable many aspects of Singapore life. The material in each chapter is supported by graphics and tables, reading references and suggestions for thought. The subjects addressed are: government expenditure and revenue; micro economic concepts; land transport; utilities; public housing; healthcare; education; the labour market; and a peek into the future.
  • Southeast Asia in the Global Economy: Securing Competitiveness and Social Protection by Helen Nesadurai and Soedradjad Djiwandono. While economic globalisation benefited Southeast Asia, especially during the 1990s boom, the region now seems to be caught between two emerging economic giants - China and India. What challenges and opportunities does the rise of China and India pose for Southeast Asia and how should policy-makers respond? Are bilateral free trade arrangements and bilateral economic partnerships a boon or bane for competitiveness? In identifying approaches and strategies to cope with these challenges and leverage on the opportunities available, this book also links the quest for competitiveness with the necessity of social protection. The link comes in the form of the people who work for firms as human resources, and as users and innovators of technology. The book acknowledges and discusses the problems of inadequate technological and innovative capacity and the problems of managing labour productivity in Southeast Asia. However, the book also cautions against focusing on people solely as productive labour, whether in production or the knowledge sector. By highlighting the adverse social, economic and political consequences of ignoring social protection issues and challenging the myth that addressing social protection undermines competitiveness, the book emphasizes the social responsibilities incumbent on governments and firms in this age of growing economic insecurities.
  • The Miracle: The Epic Story of Asia's Quest for Wealth by Michael Schuman. A senior US business journalist is the author of this accessible account of economic change and development in nine Asian countries in the recent past. Significant events and personalities are described, often with the flavour of personal contacts. Many of the realities of Asia's background of poverty, the achievements of the Asian Economic Miracle and the impact of the 1990s and ongoing "downturns" are outlined and set into context. The Epilogue highlights a human reaction common in US.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Books on Textiles

Select Books carries a wide range of books on textiles, particularly batik. Here is a selection of 5 titles:
  • Legacy In Cloth: Batak Textiles Of Indonesia by Sandra Niessen. Weaving in the Batak region of North Sumatra is an ancient art practised by women, and exhibits some of the oldest design and technical features in the Indonesian archipelago. Since colonial annexation at the turn of the 20th century, innovative Batak weavers from the Lake Toba region in northern Sumatra have successfully adapted their art to new economic and social circumstances - but at great cost. In recent decades, weaving has fallen into decline and the tradition is threatened, while at the same time Batak textiles are highly prized in museum collections around the world. Legacy in cloth offers the first definitive study of the woven heritage of the Toba, Simalungun, and Karo Batak. The most complete analysis of Batak textiles ever published, it provides a record of more than 100 different design types, including archival and contemporary photographs showing how the textiles are woven and how they are used in Batak culture.
  • Pictorial Cambodian Textiles by Gillian Green. The pictorial representations of Cambodian silk hangings, pidan, are unique in mainland Southeast Asia. Many of the few surviving antique textiles of this genre visualise, in astounding detail, Theravada Buddhist themes and are a response in silk to similar images in other artistic media also used in community religious practice. The imagery of another genre of pidan springs from a different source, and are distinguished by their common theme of a triad of bird/snake/tree of life. In addition some of this group have images of ships ranging from realistic to arcane. Latest research suggests that these hangings were essential to celebrations held at the end of the rainy season in Cambodia. This book illuminates many facets of these spectacular cloths. In it is assembled for the first time, a comprehensive collection of pictorial pidan from private and public collections, many hitherto unpublished.
  • Textiles: A World Tour - Discovering Traditional Fabrics and Patterns by Catherine Legrand. Pieced together much like the fine garments it portrays, this colourful volume guides the reader on an international textile tour, presenting in over 700 photographs, a raft of remarkable clothing, people and fabric from all over the world. Taking the reader from Vietnam to Benin, from Central America to Eastern Europe, the book is filled with stunning costumes, sumptuous fabrics and breathtaking detail. Both an ethnographic textile map and a fabric-inspired travelogue, it explores and reveals many secrets about international textile crafts, including weaving, dyeing and appliqué. With glossary and bibliography.
  • Kimono As Art: The Landscapes of Itchiku Kubota by Dale Carolyn Gluckman and Hollis Goodall. This lavishly illustrated book presents 55 masterworks by Japanese kimono artist Itchiku Kubota. His unique style, inspired by the fragile dyed silks of 16th-century Japan, and developed after 20 years of experimentation, combines stitch-resist, ink drawing, embroidery, metallic leaf and a complex layering of colours to create hauntingly beautiful landscapes with richly textured surfaces. In the artist's magnum opus 'Symphony of Light' - showcased in this volume together with his five-piece 'Mount Fuji' series and ten individual works - the monumental kimono are intended to be shown sequentially, and were made only for display. Featured on a special fold-out section, Kubota's remarkable imagery can be fully appreciated as it extends from robe to robe. Published to accompany a collaborative exhibition between the San Diego Museum of Art, Timken Museum of Art, Canton Museum of Art and the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum, the catalogue includes essays, a preface by Satoshi Kubota, Itchiku's son and artistic heir; and an interview with Satoshi Kubota. Also includes a biography, an overview of the artist's basic production techniques, a glossary and a bibliography.
  • The Worldwide History of Dress by Patricia Rieff Anawalt. This impressive volume offers informative historical articles on dress traditions, maps and 960 colour illustrations which make a delightful, probably unique, worldwide view of the non-Western dress worn in the past and present. Much information in dress construction, accessories, materials and ceremonial usage is also included. With references, bibliography, glossary and index.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Books on Garden and Landscape Design

We stock a number of books on garden and landscape designs, particularly after we had several queries during the Singapore Garden Festival held last year. Here are 4 interestings titles:
  • Japanese Stone Gardens: Origins, Meanings, Form by Stephen Mansfield. Japanese stone gardens provide tranquil settings where visitors can shed the burdens and stresses of modern existing, satisfy age-old yearnings for solitude and repose and experience the restorative power of art and nature. This book provides an insight into the powerful mystique and dynamism of Japanese stone gardens, from their earliest use as props in animistic rituals to their appropriation by Zen monks and priests to create settings conducive to mediation and contemplation and, finally, to their contemporary use and meaning.
  • Bawa: The Sri Lanka Gardens by David Robson and Dominic Sansoni. The late Geoffrey Bawa's most famous garden is at his estate in Sri Lanka, Lunuganga, and it is rivalled only by Brief, the lesser-known garden of his brother, Bevis. Evolving over several decades, these two gardens and their outbuildings and sculptures represent highpoints of tropical design in which architecture and landscape are intimately mixed. This volume includes an overview of the Sri Lanka's rich horticultural tradition and the social background that inspired the Bawas. It is followed by chapters that explore and celebrate the brothers' relationship and the architectural soul of Brief and Lunuganga through superb photo essays and descriptions, revealing the aesthetics and architectural mastery of the creators as well as the stunning context of Sri Lanka itself. Also included are directions on how to get to Brief and Lunuganga, a bibliography and a glossary.
  • Balinese Gardens by William Warren. A vivid record of Bali's stunning landscaped gardens and natural beauty, this book is a delight for anyone with an interest in tropical plants and landscape design. Renowned photographer Luca Invernizzi Tettoni and author/landscape designer William Warren capture a unique portrayal of this extraordinary island, focusing on hotel and private gardens and Bali's abundant natural features. The book opens with an overview of the island's physical and cultural environment, and then takes the reader on a guided tour of Bali's finest traditional and contemporary gardens.
  • Chinese Gardens by Lou Qingxi. This book is about the history, evolution, art and techniques of Chinese gardens and their architectures. The author contrasts Chinese gardens with natural scenery and notes that the beauty of Chinese gardens lie in their combining culture and art into one. The author examines the development of the classic Chinese garden, the different prototypes and the architectural theories formed over the years. He describes the meaning of these classic Chinese gardens to the Chinese, and the Chinese people's admiration of them. With black and white and color pictures. This book was published simulataneously in seven laguages. Translated to English by Zhang Lei and Yu Hong.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

More titles from Selections No. 96

Here are three more titles from our recent Selections Issue No. 96. They have been deliberately chosen to be as different from each other as possible, other than their Asian theme!
  • Colonialism, Violence And Muslims In Southeast Asia: The Maria Hertogh Controversy And Its Aftermath by Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied. This book deals with the genesis, outbreak and far-reaching effects of a legal controversy and the resulting outbreak of mass violence, which determined the course of British colonial rule after post World War Two in Singapore and Malaya. Based on extensive archival sources, it examines the custody hearing of Maria Hertogh, a case which exposed tensions between Malay and Singaporean Muslims and British colonial society. Investigating the wide-ranging effects and crises faced in the aftermath of the riots, the analysis focuses in particular on the restoration of peace and rebuilding of society. The author provides a nuanced and sophisticated understanding of British management of riots and mass violence in Southeast Asia. By exploring the responses by non-British communities in Singapore, Malaya and the wider Muslim world to the Maria Hertogh controversy, he shows that British strategies and policies can be better understood through the themes of resistance and collaboration. Furthermore, the book argues that British enactment of laws pertaining to the management of religions in the post-war period had dispossessed religious minorities of their perceived religious rights. As a result, outbreaks of mass violence and continual grievances ensued in the final years of British colonial rule in Southeast Asia - and these tensions still pertain in the present.
  • In The Footsteps Of Stamford Raffles by Nigel Barley. Stamford Raffles is that rarest of things - a colonial figure who is forgotten at home but still remembered with affection abroad. Born into genteel poverty in 1781, he joined the East India Company at the age of fourteen and worked his way up to become Lieutenant Governor of Java when the British seized that island for some five years in 1811. There he fell in love with all things Javanese and vaunted it as a place of civilisation as he discovered himself a man of science as well as commerce. A humane and ever-curious figure, his administration was a period of energetic reform and boisterous research that culminated in his History of Java in 1817 and it remains the starting-point of all subsequent studies of Indonesian culture. In this book, part history, part travelogue, Nigel Barley re-visits the places that were important in the life of Stamford Raffles and evaluates his heritage in an account that is both humorous and insightful. Originally published in 2001, this book has now been updated.
  • A Taste For Green Tangerines: A Saucy Romp Through The Rainforest by Barbara Bisco. Disillusioned with her London life, anthropologist Bethany Parker takes a last minute offer to help build an eco resort in the Indonesian rainforest, trading cappuccinos, a lacklustre boyfriend and her one bedroom flat for mosquito nets, longhouses and an international team of environmentalists. Thrust into a lush, colourful and sometimes brutal world of tribal traditions, tensions and struggles between east and west, Bethany is forced to learn about herself as she learns about Borneo. A Taste for Green Tangerines was the No. 1 bestseller at Foyles for three consecutive weeks when it was launched.
This last title is distributed by Select Books, and it illustrates the expansion in our distribution business. In addition to the more serious, academic titles that we have always been strong in, we are now representing more mass-market titles, and we are pleased to be able to distribute a quality title like A Taste for Green Tangerines.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New Title: Realising Safe and Secure Seas for All

Select Books is pleased to announce the publication of our latest title Realising Safe and Secure Seas for All: International Maritime Security Conference 2009.

This title is co-published with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and the Republic of Singapore Navy.

is a compilation of the proceedings arising from the inaugural International Maritime Security Conference 2009 held on 13-14 May 2009 in Singapore. The conference was organised by the Republic of Singapore Navy and the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and was held concurrently with the 7th IMDEX Asia 2009.

The conference sought to promote global maritime safety and security and to update maritime practitioners on the latest cooperative efforts and technological developments in the maritime domain. It brought together senior maritime defence officers, maritime security enforcement agencies, think tanks, researchers, academia, policy makers, maritime and port authorities, shipping practitioners, shipping lawyers, technology companies, maritime service providers, classification societies, maritime training institutes, security training providers, security system and equipment vendors from the Asia-Pacific and beyond to participate in the exchange of knowledge and experience. In particular senior naval officers and officials from Australia, China, France, India, Italy, Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom, the United States and the International Maritime Organisation presented at the conference.

Contributors to this volume,
which is edited by Joshua Ho, include Carlyle Thayer, Geoffrey Till, Ito Yoshiaki and Robert Willard.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Selections is our monthly catalogue of new titles. It lists new titles that we have recently stocked in our retail store, with details on authors, country of publication, binding, number of pages, year of publication and ISBN, as well as the corresponding annotations.

is emailed monthly to those on our mailing list. If you would like to be on this mailing list, do drop us an email.

Alternatively, current and past issues of Selections are also available on our website. Click here and select the specific issue of Selections that you would like to peruse.

Selections 96
will be published soon. Here, I have selected three interesting titles from it:

  • The Buddhist World Of Southeast Asia by Donald Swearer. This book offers a synthesis and empathetic interpretation of the many facets of Buddhism in Southeast Asia with a particular focus on Thailand. The author focuses his study of Theravada Buddhism in Southeast Asia as a dynamic, complex system of thought and practice embedded in the respective cultures, societies, and histories of Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka. The book analyses three distinct but interrelated aspects of this system. The first is the popular tradition, in terms of life models personified in traditional myths and legends, rites of passage, festival celebrations, and ritual occasions. The second is Buddhism and the state, in terms of the paradigmatic influence of Asoka on conceptions of Buddhist kingship, the symbiotic relationship between Southeast Asian kingship and sacred cosmology, the Buddha as cosmocrator, and the rise of charismatic Buddhist political leaders in the postcolonial period. The third is modern transformations of Buddhism, in terms of the changing roles of the monk and laity, modern reform movements, the role of women, and Buddhism and the West. This second edition of The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia includes numerous additions and changes throughout, particularly developments that have occurred within the Buddhist world of Southeast Asia since 1995. The bibliography and notes have also been updated and expanded.
  • The Golden Triangle: Inside Southeast Asia's Drug Trade by Chin Ko-lin. The Golden Triangle provides a lively portrait of a region in constant transition, a place where political development is intimately linked to the vagaries of the global market in illicit drugs. Ko-lin Chin explains the nature of opium growing, heroin and methamphetamine production, drug sales, and drug use. He also shows how government officials who live in these areas view themselves not as drug kingpins, but as people who are carrying the responsibility for local economic development on their shoulders.
  • A Tour Of Qufu: The Hometown Of Confucius by Yang Zhaoming. Confucius, whose Chinese name is Kong Qiu, is a celebrated ancient Chinese thinker, political figure, educator and founder of Confucianism. His teachings and philosophy, preserved in the Analects of Confucius, have not only served as the foundation of much of subsequent Chinese speculation on an ideal man and government, but also deeply influenced Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese life and thought. Qufu, the birthplace of Confucius, has become a major destination for cultural tourism. Kong Temple, the Kong residence and Kong forest in particular present a fine exhibition of China's temples and its ancient scholarly life, its gardens and its tombs. A beautifully illustrated guide, this book takes the reader on an evocative cultural tour through captivating temples, palaces and gardens.