Thursday, April 29, 2010

New Distribution Title: Numbers

Numbers is the second book we are distributing for Plastic Soldier Factory.

Numbers is an international collaboration that looks at one of the worst global recessions in history; zooming past the macro statistics to tell of individual stories in multiple societies. The financial crisis hit the headlines of every capitalistic city, screaming numbers so big that zeros started to swim surreally.

With the support of Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), 4 artists from the cities of Berlin, Bucharest, Kyoto and Singapore banded together to tell stories of smaller numbers.
The numbers-themed comic strips are fictitious reality, creations drawn from actual observations on-the-ground. Numbers is designed as a fold-out from an A4 to an A1. Each artist is assigned a colour: magenta, cyan, yellow or black. The intent is to create a literally stripped reading of the work, where the visuals are absorbed all at once and not forced into the narrative flow of a bound book.

The authors/illustrators are:

  • Titus Ackermann is a founding member of artist group MOGA MOBO; editor, author and publisher of more than 100 comics and children’s books. He is also a multiple award winner, most recently the 'Max & Moritz' for the best German comic for Moga Mobo Vol 85. In recent years, Titus is sought-after speaker on comics in countries throughout the world, such as Japan, Korea, Cuba, Algeria, Libanon and Austria.
  • Matei Branea, animator-comics artist-illustrator-graphic designer-publisher, is a household name in Romania. For two seasons, he appeared in the highly-popular comedic animation Planeta Moldova Show. Leveraging on his reputation, Matei aims to increase the importance of illustration in the printed press and commercial media in Romania. He is also a member of Hardcomics, an independent publishing house of alternative comics and visual zines. Hardcomics aims to create a market for comics in Romania and to set a standard in its content and form.
  • Born in 1981, Tsuyoshi Ogawa is coordinator at Kyoto International Manga Museum, where he manages the planning of manga themed workshops and exhibition activities. He graduated with Master of Fine Arts from Kyoto Seika University, majoring in manga. Tsuyoshi has participated in several art and comic exhibitions in Japan, Germany and South Korea.
  • Budi Wijaya is a trained architect practicing graphic and multimedia design. Through his design office Plasticsoldierfactory, Budi engages in commercial work with global corporations from US, UK, Middle East and Asia. On a personal basis, Budi participates in art and design exhibitions, extending his design practice to investigations of aesthetics, technology, and philosophy.

Monday, April 26, 2010

New Distribution Title: East Meets East

Select Books has been appointed as the exclusive Singapore distributor by Plastic Soldier Factory for their books.

One of the books on sale now in major bookstores is East Meets East by Matai Branea and Budi Wijaya.

East Meets East is a collaborative comic between Matai Branea and Budi Wijaya. Echoing the comic's abrasive theme of "Tradition vs Modern", the artists are of very different illustration/writing styles. The parallel and criss-crossing stories (Modern vs Tradition, European Meets Asian) that unfold tell of Romania’s and Singapore's contrasting paths towards modernity.

The content of this publication was originally created for Lingua Comica 3, a Euro-Asian dialogue through comics project organised by Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) in collaboration with the Kyoto International Manga Museum (MM). The work was exhibited in MM in 2008.

Matai Branea is a Romanian illustrator/animator.

Budi Wijaya is a Singapore based Indonesian architect/designer.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Books on Asian History

Here are some recent additions to our Asian history collection:
  • Western Power in Asia: Its Slow Rise and Swift Fall, 1415-1999 by Arthur Cotterell. This is a very readable account of a vast subject - the advent and decline of Western power in Asia. Of course the single volume has to be selective, and doubtless also controversial, as it speeds through the centuries 1415-1999. The gradual establishment of trading posts, colonies and empires by Holland, Spain, Portugal, Britain, France and later the US is traced as it spread throughout Asia until in the 20th century, when changed ideas and patterns of power including impacts of WWII brought about fundamental restructuring, which culminated in the 1999 Handover of Hong Kong. With black-and-white illustrations, chronology, bibliography and index.
  • Swish of the Kris: The Story of the Moros by Vic Hurley. Facsimile reissue of the significant 1936 account of the Moros - the traditionally fierce Islamic warriors of Mindanao and the southern Philippines. The author, a scholarly rubber planter, lived in the area for seven years and writes sympathetically of Moro history since their arrival as a largely nomadic people probably in the first century BCE. The Moros, with their kris, kept at bay successive invaders - Portuguese, British, Chinese, Japanese, and Dutch, as well as the governing Spanish and Americans. Details are given of the 1915 agreement with the US authority which proved to be a non-durable basis for stability and peace in the area. With historical notes and glossary.
  • The Lands West of the Lakes: History of the Ajattappareng Kingdoms of South Sulawesi 1200 to 1600 CE by Stephen C. Druce. The period 1200-1600 CE saw a radical transformation from simple chiefdoms to kingdoms (in archaeological terminology, complex chiefdoms) across lowland South Sulawesi, a region that lay outside the classical Indicized parts of Southeast Asia. The rise of these kingdoms was stimulated and economically supported by trade in prestige goods with other parts of island Southeast Asia, yet the development of these kingdoms was determined by indigenous, rather than imported, political and cultural precepts. Starting in the 13th century, the region experienced a transition from swidden cultivation to wet-rice agriculture; rice was the major product that the lowland kingdoms of South Sulawesi exchanged with archipelagic traders. Stephen Druce demonstrates this progression to political complexity by combining a range of sources and methods, including oral, textual, archaeological, linguistic and geographical information and analysis as he explores the rise and development of five South Sulawesi kingdoms, known collectively as Ajattappareng (the Lands West of the Lakes). The author also presents an inquiry into oral traditions of a historical nature in South Sulawesi. He examines their functions, their processes of transmission and transformation, their uses in writing history and their relationship to written texts. He shows that any distinction between oral and written traditions of a historical nature is largely irrelevant, and that the South Sulawesi chronicles, which can be found only for a small number of kingdoms, are not characteristic (as historians have argued) but exceptional in the corpus of indigenous South Sulawesi historical sources.
  • Tall Tales and True: India, Historiography and British Imperial Imaginings edited by Kate Brittlebank. Tall tales and true: India, historiography and British imperial imaginings is an interdisciplinary collection of eight case studies. Written in an engaging and accessible style, in order to appeal not only to specialists but also to students, teachers and general readers, it explores issues relating to the construction of historical narratives. The book presents re-assessments of a number of emblematic people and events that appear within the narrative of British imperial power: the Black Hole of Calcutta, Governor-General Warren Hastings, Tipu Sultan of Mysore, Arthur Wellesley and the battle of Assaye, the Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh, William Sleeman and the thugs, and the Indian Revolt of 1857-58. It concludes with an examination of the life of Madan Mohan Malaviya, an ambiguous figure who has been difficult to place in conventional narratives of Indian nationalism.
  • Through the Eyes of the King: The Travels of King Chulalongkorn to Malaya by Lim Pui Huen. This book takes the reader to old Malaya as seen through the eyes of King Chulalongkorn of Siam. The King was probably the most travelled monarch of his time. He went to Java three times, India and Burma once, and Europe twice. In all these journeys, he had to pass through Singapore, and when he went westwards, he had to pass through Penang. The King travelled to Malaya more than ten times - mainly to Singapore but also to Johor, Penang, Malacca, Taiping and Kulim. The narrative is told through historical photos and notes on the places he visited and pen sketches of the people he met. Since King Chulalongkorn's travels cover nearly the whole period of his reign, they reflect the different stages of his life and reign. We see him first as a young man eager to see the world and preparing himself to rule. Then we see him in middle age, in poor health and taking a respite from the cares of state. Lastly, we see him as a statesman withstanding severe pressures from aggressive British officials. The context of each journey is discussed in the light of Siam's relations with Britain and the northern Malay states that were still under Siamese suzerainty. Malaya was both holiday destination and confrontational space.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Books on Asian Architecture

Here are some recent additions to our extensive collection of books on Asian architecture:
  • National Library of Singapore - Redefining the Library. The innovative new building of the National Library of Singapore opened in Victoria Street in 2005. It has since received architectural awards and, more importantly, is becoming a major hub in the knowledge society of both Singapore and the world. In this finely illustrated volume, the library's administrators, architects and planners explain the rationale and functions of the building and its facilities. Future strategies and present-day usages are discussed in the context of environmental and technological issues.
  • Solutions for a Modern City: Arup in Beijing. This book explores the major projects undertaken in Beijing by Arup, an influential firm of designers, engineers, planners and business consultants. Following Beijing's appointment as host city for the 2008 Olympic Games, Arup has had a significant influence on the astonishing architectural development occurring in Beijing and across China. With specially commissioned texts by Steve Rose, Dan Hewitt and Vesna Petresin Robert outlining the contemporary architectural scene in Beijing, technological innovations and broader historical context in which these developments are rooted, Solutions for a Modern City: Arup in Beijing provides a visually beautiful and informative insight into the built and cultural transformations currently underway in China.
  • Chinese Houses of Southeast: The Eclectic Architecture of Sojourners and Settlers by Ronald Knapp. The migration of Chinese from southeastern China to Southeast Asia is a significant component of the world's major cultural diasporas. It is the story of these hybrid architectural forms, built under different social and geographical environments that is the focus of this book. Over a three-year period from 2007 to 2009, Ronald G. Knapp and A. Chester Ong made five field excursions to Asia in search of the old homes of Chinese sojourners and settlers. This book, a fascinating account of architectural multiculturalism in the pre-modern world, presents the results of their research. An introductory essay portrays the historical circumstances that gave rise to Chinese houses overseas, and includes historic images, colour photographs, paintings and line drawings. At the core of the book are stunning colour photographs of nearly 40 residences built from the late 18th into the early 20th century. For each residence, background information about the individual and his family who built and then lived there is given. Images from southeastern China help clarify similarities and differences, and in several cases, related family residences in China are also presented.
  • The Tropical House: Cutting Edge Design in the Philippines by Elizabeth Reyes and Luca Invernizzi Tettoni. The Tropical House celebrates a growing trend toward stylish globalisation in interior design. More than 25 stunning houses and condos in and around Manila, the Philippines, are showcased, each evoking a distinctive tropical-modern fusion style that is gaining popularity around the world. Over 250 full-colour photographs of outstanding Filipino residences will inspire readers with their diverse, contemporary designs. From vintage glamour to classic modern with bold artful accents and the clean, sophisticated look known as "contemporary chic", this book showcases the myriad tastes of the Philippines.
  • Architecture of Thailand: A Guide to Traditional and Contemporary Forms by Nithi Sthapitanonda and Brian Mertens. A team of architects, photographers and historians convey in this impressive volume the vast and varied architectural styles and contemporary trends in Thailand's buildings. Scholarly text, ground plans and some 800 colour photographs and insets show how the country's culture, religions, history, economy and regional characteristics are conveyed and/or reflected in its buildings. With maps, glossary, chronology and index.

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Books: Selections 100

The 100th edition of Selections, our monthly catalogue of new titles has just been released! You can see view the whole catalogue here. Here are five titles from it:
  • China Goes to Sea: Maritime Transformation in Comparative Historical Perspective by Andrew Erickson; Lyle Goldstein et al. China's turn toward the sea is evident in its stunning rise in global shipbuilding markets, its expanding merchant marine, its wide reach of offshore energy exploration, its growing fishing fleet, and its increasingly modern navy. This comprehensive assessment of China's potential as a genuine maritime power is both unbiased and apolitical. Unlike other works that view China in isolation, it places China in a larger world historical context. The authors, all authorities on their historical eras, examine cases of attempted maritime transformation through the ages, from the Persian Empire to the Soviet Union, and determine the reasons for success or failure.
  • Piercing The Heart: Unheard Voices of 26/11 by Simran Sodhi. Piercing the Heart is a very sensitive collection of first hand accounts by the victims of the 26 November 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai. The book is an attempt to document the events of Mumbai 26/11 through the stories of the different survivors. In addition to the personal accounts, Simran Sodhi also provides an overview of the politics surrounding the event and its aftermath.
  • Islamism in Indonesia: Politics in the Emerging Democracy by Bernhard Platzdasch. This book offers an analysis of Islamist political behaviour during the early democratic years in Indonesia, concentrating on the period between 1998 and 2003. The introduction discusses vital terminology and historical subjects that the later chapters address. Chapter I discusses the re-formation of Islamist politics in 1998 and 1999; Chapter II depicts the frustration among Islamists from defeats and concessions to non-Muslims since Indonesian independence in 1945; Chapter III covers the motives and doctrinal approaches of Islamist parties to Islamise state and society; Chapter IV examines the political strategies of Islamist parties during post-New Order elections. Chapter V surveys the behaviour of Islamist parties between ideological goals and political advantage during various post-New Order administrations.
  • History of Aid to Laos: Motivations and Impacts by Viliam Phraxayavong. History of Aid to Laos is the first comprehensive publication on development assistance to the aid-dependent country of Laos. Written by a former senior Lao official in international cooperation, the book investigates the situation of a country dependent on foreign aid for more than half a century and the ways in which donor nations have shaped Lao development and political relationships through the aid process. The book traces foreign aid to Laos beginning with the French administration in the 1950s, through American military-dominated assistance targeted to defeat communism, the communist bloc's economic rescue and the related political upheaval, the increasing dominance of financial institutions and Western bilateral donors as Laos's economy opened up, and finally, the ascendant influence and assistance of neighbouring countries, notably China, Thailand, and Vietnam, as well as Malaysia and Korea, which have rushed into Laos' open market economy to exploit its natural resources and eco-tourism potential. After decades of foreign aid, Laos is left with a continuing dependence on development assistance, a status as one of the world's Least Developed Countries (LDCs), and a host of new and old problems such as human trafficking, drug addiction, corruption, acute lack of human resources, and environmental degradation from mining, dams, and other "fruits" of economic development.
  • Brokering a Revolution: Cadres in a Philippine Insurgency edited by Rosanne Rutten. Nine individually referenced papers shed new light on the history of the CPP-NPA in the Philippines, the oldest active revolutionary movement in Southeast Asia. The focus is on the cadres in NGOs, transnational network, urban and village arenas and among indigenous and multi-ethnic populations, and their work in brokering the movement into existence. By exploring frictions and shifts in allegiances, the authors have captured the dynamics of "relational work" that shaped the social movement.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Books on The Silk Road, Western and Central Asia

These are recent additions to our selection of books on the Silk Road, Western and Central Asia:
  • The Silk Road: An Ancient Trade Route by M.S. Luke. This is a comprehensive overview of the ancient trade route linking China with the West. The areas covered include: Buddhism and the Silk Road; Violent non-state actors in Central Asia; Ecumenical Mischief; Silk Road ancient sites and conservation; the Islamisation of the Silk Road; and Restoration of the Silk Road among others. With bibliography and index.
  • The Umayyads: The Rise of Islamic Art. The Umayyad culture represents the emergence of an innovative artistic language where the subtle crossbreeding of the Aramean, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, and Persian influences yield a new architectural and decorative order in which the foundations for the birth of the Islamic art would be laid. This book - one of the Museum With No Frontiers Exhibitions catalogues - provides a detailed introduction to the Umayyad culture, including art, architecture, pottery, coinage, utensils and others. With 182 colour illustrations, 43 monument plans and glossary.
  • Kashgar: Oasis City on China's Old Silk Road by George Michell; Marika Vicziany; and Tsui Yen Hu. 2500 miles from Beijing, Kashgar is one of the most remote cities in the world. But, until the early twentieth century, it was known as the "pivot" of central Asia, and before that, it was one of the principal way stations on the Silk Road. Today it remains one of the most complete historical urban centres in China. This book celebrates its history and character through beautiful colour photographs and accompanying text. With selected bibliography.
  • Traces in the Desert: Journeys of Discovery Across Central Asia by Christoph Baumer. Christoph Baumer has spent a lifetime travelling through the countries of Central Asia, making extraordinary discoveries along the way. This book follows in his intrepid footsteps as he finds evidence of Indo-Europeans in the steppes of Western Mongolia, discovers lost oasis cities in the Taklamakan and unearths art treasures in Tibet. He embarks on a quest to find Genghis Khan's long-lost tomb and has numerous, occasionally hair-raising, encounters with shamans, Iranian politicians and armed Tibetan bandits. Enlightening and full of adventure, Traces in the Desert uniquely illuminates the hidden parts of Central Asia that have not just disappeared beneath the shifting sands, but also from the horizon of our memory.
  • Dragon Fighter: One Woman's Epic Struggle for Peace with China by Rebiya Kadeer and Alexandra Cavelius. Rebiyah Kadeer (b. 1946) was born to an Uyghur family in China's borderlands with Kazakhstan. She traces her career as refugee, self-made millionaire and celebrated official of China's National Peoples Congress. Following her efforts to promote the human and political rights of Uyghur people, attendance at the 1995 Beijing United Nations World Conference on Women, and unrest in her home area, she was arrested in 1999. She tells of her gross ill treatment and the sufferings of other prisoners, and finally, after international outcry, her 2005 release "to take medical treatment" in the US. She has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and apparently, been subject to harassment and assassination attempts. Rebiya has received awards from Human Rights Watch and Norway's Rafto Foundation. This book tells of China's apparent orchestrated efforts to obliterate Uyghur identity.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Books on Japan

This list features recent additions to our selection of books on Japan:
  • Young Women in Japan: Transitions to Adulthood by Kaori H. Okano. This book examines young women in Japan, focusing in particular on their transitions to adulthood, their conceptions of adulthood and relations with Japanese society more generally. Drawing on detailed primary research including a year-long observation of high schools and subsequent interviews over a 12 year period, it traces the experiences of a group of working class women from their last year of high-schooling in 1989 through to 2001 as they approached their thirties. It considers important aspects of the transition to adulthood including employment, marriage, divorce, childbirth and custody. It shows how the role and identities of young women changed over the course of the 1990s, exploring the impact of changes within Japanese society and global forces, and explains fully the implications for ordinary young people and their everyday lives. It considers to what extent young women's perceptions of themselves and society are shifting, and how far this can be explained by external constraints and their own experiences and decisions.
  • Living Japan: Essays on Everyday Life in Contemporary Japan edited by Harumi Kimura. Edited and introduced by the distinguished best-selling author Harumi Kimura (winner of the Ohya non-fiction prize for her book Letters from Twilight London), the book's objective is to make 'Japan' more accessible to the non-specialist general reader and provide a counter-balance to Western media images and reporting as well as conventional academic theory and observation about modern Japanese society. By definition, it also offers an invaluable primary source for scholarly reference.
  • The Little Book of Kawaii by Shawn Wright. The Little book of Kawaii is dedicated to all things "kawaii" (Japanese for "cute").This new title will show through full-page illustrations the Japanese subculture that has found its way into the designs and hearts of artists and people all over the globe. It covers "kawaii noir" the dark and sexy side of this exciting subject, as well as food, fashion, toys, characters and pixel art. This book contains no text.
  • Japan's Holy War: The Ideology of Radical Shinto Ultranationalism by Watlter Skya. Japan's Holy War reveals how a radical religious ideology - a fervent nationalism within State Shinto - drove the Japanese to imperial expansion and war in Asia and the Pacific. In the early twentieth century, a fervent nationalism developed within State Shinto. Skya documents this transformation in the ideology of State Shinto as support for the theory of constitutional monarchy gave way first to the theory of absolute monarchy, and then to the ideology of emperor-centred totalitarianism. Skya suggests that the creeping democracy and secularisation of Japan's early-twentieth-century political order were the principal causes of the terrorism of the 1930s, which ultimately led to a holy war against Western civilisation. With notes, bibliography and index.
  • Beyond Golden Clouds: Japanese Screens from the Art Institute of Chicago and the Saint Louis Art Museum edited by Janice Katz. Japanese folding screens are treasures within any museum's collection and are beloved by the general public. This beautiful publication brings together the very finest screens from the world-renowned collections of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Saint Louis Art Museum. The featured works range from an extraordinary pair of landscapes by Sesson Shukei, a Zen-Buddhist monk-painter of the late 16th century, to daring contemporary works from the late 20th century. The first half of the Edo period (1615-1868) is especially well represented, with a dozen screens from the 17th century by such masters as Kano Koi and Tosa Mitsuoki. The contemporary scene is also well covered, with ten examples from the 20th century - proving the longevity of this art form and its currency among modern-day artists. Enlightening essays by important scholars in the field cover topics like the emergence of screens as an art form and a novel discussion of the relationship of Japanese screens to those made in other countries.
  • Stories from a Tearoom Window: Lore and Legends of the Japanese Tea Ceremony by Shigenori Chikamatsu, and translated by Kozaburo Mori. The Japanese tea ceremony blends art with nature and has for centuries brought harmony to the daily life of its practitioners. In the 18th century, the warrior Shigenori Chikamatsu set down scores of legends and anecdotes and bits of lore and history to express the essence of the tea ceremony for the edification of tea connoisseurs. In this volume, Shigenori's classic collection is translated into English for the first time. Over 50 black-and-white illustrations complement the text.