Monday, September 27, 2010

Hike It! Singapore River

We are pleased to announce the publication of the latest title in our Autumn Wonders imprint: Hike It! Singapore River.

This is the second book in the Hike It! series of walking guides, which is supported under the National Heritage Board’s Heritage Industry Incentive Programme.

Featuring beautiful illustrations, and written in the form of an explorer’s journal, the Hike It! series will appeal to Singaporeans, tourists and expatriates alike and will be the perfect gift for families, the young and the young-at-heart. The walking trails in the Hike It! series have been carefully designed so that readers can experience the historical and cultural aspects of Singapore while having a great time.

This second book features the Singapore River area. The recommended walks in the book will take readers through and describe in very absorbing details places such as The Old Parliament Building, the Asian Civilisation Museum, Clarke Quay, Lim Bo Seng Memorial and lots more.

The first book in the series, Hike It! Bras Basah & Waterloo, was published in August 2009 (more on the book here, and about the book launch here), and received praise from many reviewers:

Packed with interesting facts and activities, it is a great way to experience and learn more about Singapore’s history and heritage. Fun and educational!
- Simply Her

Here’s a cool little walking guide...Have fun walking, bonding and gaining a better insight of our country at the same time!
- Singapore’s Child

Combine reading with activity via this guide’s treks of Bras Basah and Waterloo and write-ups on monuments. For parents and kids looking for shared activities to do.
- The Sunday Times

Author Chan Chi Ling is a very talented young writer, with her own blog at:

We are confident that this second book will receive similar praise and be an attractive resource for anyone interested in Singapore’s heritage.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Books on Social Issues in Asia

This is a list of recent additions to our collection of books on social issues in Asia:
  • Sex, Love and Feminism in the Asia Pacific: A Cross-Cultural Study of Young People's Attitudes by Chilla Bulbeck. 'Sex, love and feminism' are three aspects of the rapidly changing gender relations that shape young people's lives in the Asia Pacific region. Much has been written about rapidly changing countries in Asia, most recently China and India. With the global spread of capitalist production and neo-liberal ideologies, the claim that the rest of the world's women are treading the path to enlightenment and development forged by women in the West has been revived. This book explores that contention through a comparative analysis of the attitudes of young middle class urbanites in ten countries: the USA, Australia, Canada, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, India, Indonesia, China and Vietnam. Drawing on detailed empirical research, the study describes and compares attitudes towards the women's movement, sexual relations and family arrangements in the countries considered. It explores young peoples' image of feminists and what they feel the women's movement has achieved for women and men in their country. The book discusses young people's attitudes to controversial gender issues such as role reversal, sharing housework, abortion rights, same sex sexual relations, nudity and pornography. Through a comparative analysis of the gender vocabularies by which young people understand gender issues, the book highlights the role of differences in history, culture, economics and political leadership.
  • Women's Movements in Asia: Feminisms And Transnational Activism edited by Mina Roces and Louise Edwards. Women's Movements in Asia is a comprehensive study of women's activism across Asia. With chapters written by leading international experts, it provides a full overview of the history of feminism, as well as the current context of the women's movement in 12 countries: the Philippines, China, Indonesia, Japan, Burma, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Korea, India and Pakistan. For each of these countries the manner in which feminism changes according to cultural, political, economic and religious factors is explored. The contributors investigate how national feminisms are influenced by transnational factors, such as the women's movements in other countries, colonialism and international agencies. Each chapter also considers what Asian feminists have contributed to global theoretical debates on the woman question, the key successes and failures of the movements and what needs to be addressed in the future.
  • Social Cohesion in Greater China: Challenges for Social Policy and Governance edited by Ka Ho Mok and Yeun-Wen Ku. This book critically examines the issues and challenges of social development faced by societies in Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, with particular reference to the major strategies these societies adopt to promote social cohesion and civil harmony in the context of globalisation. It focuses on people who have been socially marginalised by the Asian financial crisis in 1997, and examines the measures Greater China has adopted to balance economic growth with social development. The book will be of interest to readers who wish to know more about societies in Mainland China, and the effects of globalisation.
  • Poverty and Social Protection in Indonesia edited by Joan Hardjono, Nuning Akhmadi et al.. This book consists of papers that present the findings of research done by the SMERU Research Institute in Jakarta, Indonesia. Most describe the effects on the poor of the Indonesian economic crisis of 1997-98 and the response of the Indonesian government in the form of a Social Safety Net consisting of poverty mitigation programs. With the gradual recovery of the economy after 2000, the Indonesian government began reducing subsidies for fuel products and has channelled budgetary savings into a new series of targeted social protection and poverty alleviation undertakings that include unconditional cash transfers. The effectiveness of Indonesia's poverty alleviation programmes has, however, been reduced by the difficulty of targeting beneficiaries accurately because of a lack of reliable, up-to-date poverty figures. In many instances unsuitable targeting methodology has been compounded by bad governance at the local level, while the introduction of regional autonomy, accompanied by the decentralisation of authority to the district level, has formed a further complicating factor.
  • Myth of the Social Volcano: Perceptions of Inequality and Distributive Injustice in Contemporary China by Martin King Whyte. Is popular anger about rising inequality propelling China toward a "social volcano" of protest activity and instability that could challenge Chinese Communist Party rule? Many inside and outside of China have speculated, without evidence, that the answer is yes. In 2004, Harvard sociologist Martin King Whyte has undertaken the first systematic, nationwide survey of ordinary Chinese citizens to ask them directly how they feel about inequalities that have resulted since China's market opening in 1978. His findings are the subject of this book.

Friday, September 17, 2010

New Distribution Partner: The National Art Gallery, Singapore

We are pleased to announce that Select Books has been appointed by The National Art Gallery, Singapore as the exclusive distributor in Singapore and Malaysia for their publications.

The National Art Gallery, Singapore (TNAGS) is a new virtual arts institution which will contribute to building Singapore as a regional and international hub for visual arts. It will focus on the display, promotion, research and study of Southeast Asian art, including Singapore art, as well as host international art exhibitions.

As part of this mandate, TNAGS has a comprehensive education and publishing programme, including the publication of high quality art books as well as children’s books. We are therefore very pleased to be a partner of TNAGS in its publishing programme.

The latest title published by TNAGS is Cheong Soo Pieng: Visions of Southeast Asia. This title will be part of the Asian Artist Series of books. It is edited by Yeo Wei Wei, and contributors include Grace Tng, Seng Yu Jin, and Yeo Wei Wei.

Cheong Soo Pieng was a pioneer artist who created visually fresh pictures of Southeast Asia’s landscapes and people. By marrying the artistic traditions of the East and the West, Soo Pieng broke new ground in the way the tropics were portrayed.

Common Southeast Asian subjects — a fisherman’s kelong, two sarong-clad women on the way to the market, a group of people busy drying fish, the graceful figure of a Balinese dancer — take on new stylised forms through Soo Pieng’s deft use of pictorial devices and techniques from different cultures and traditions such as Chinese inking, Western oil painting, Cubism, geometric abstraction and wayang kulit.

This book is the first of its kind on Soo Pieng. The 94 colour plates present the reader with the breadth and complexity of this Nanyang artist’s extensive oeuvre. The chapters include a wealth of personal photographs as well as the latest research on the artist. Pictures of recently unearthed drawings, sketches, watercolours and woodcut prints shed further light on Soo Pieng’s personal philosophy and artistic ambitions.

Cheong Soo Pieng: Bridging Worlds, a special research exhibition featuring the works of Cheong Soo Pieng, and organised by TNAGs, is currently being held on the premises of the Singapore Art Museum.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

This is a list of recent titles that focus on Singapore’s history and heritage:
  • Tan Kah Kee And Lee Kong Chian In The Making Of Modern Singapore And Malaysia edited by Leo Suryadinata. Four of these papers from the 2008 Singapore conference, "Tan Kah Kee and Lee Kong Chian in the Making of Modern Singapore and Malaysia" are in English, and seven in Chinese. They address not only the lives and legacies of these two giants of economic and community development in areas of the Chinese diaspora but also changes in official and local policies in China where Lee (1893-1967) and Tan (1874-1961) were involved or influential.
  • Singapore Through 19th Century Prints and Paintings by Wong Hong Suen and Roxana Waterson. A selection of topographic prints of places such as the harbour, Singapore River, Fort Canning Hill, as well as paintings of the cosmopolitan trade town and of tranquil rural scenes, the views presented in Singapore Through 19th Century Prints and Paintings show the colonial port-city in its first century and constitute a historically significant source of information on Singapore's early development. Often published in Europe and America in the accounts of scientific voyages, in travel books and in bound folios, these works portray the experiences of 19th century travellers, reflecting their individual impressions, experiences, prejudices and insights. Descriptions of the settlement by travellers and early settlers, in addition to detailed captions and two lively essays from experts, reveal European impressions of Singapore in early 19th century, as well as the fertile environment in which these paintings and prints were produced and marketed, fuelled by a burgeoning travel industry. Information on the background of the artists, lithographers and publishers and the evolution of techniques will offer fresh insights on the production and commercialisation of prints and painting as well as Singapore's central role in this industry. Often distinguished by exceptional detail, the images in Singapore Through 19th Century Prints and Paintings create an intriguing visual record, offering some of the oldest, rarest and most vibrant glimpses of Singapore.
  • Ernst & Young: An Account Of 120 Years In Singapore by Lee Geok Boi. This finely illustrated commemorative book is a telling that entwines the history of the practice with Singaporean and global developments in accountancy, trade and corporate culture. It is a story of young men with foresight who went into a profession that started with very few regulations but grew into one of the most regulated. Thus, this is a story of how the profession of accountancy has developed in Singapore - and how Ernst & Young grew with it. With bibliography and index.
  • We Are One: The Peoples' Association Journey 1960-2010 by Jimmy Yap. Since its foundation in 1960, the People's Association has been integral in Singapore's life and development. This extensively illustrated volume celebrates the first 50 years of the People's Association's activities and discusses the policies which have underpinned the diverse activities. Many insights are offered into the roles it plays and has played in promoting community bonding at grassroots level, and into the personalities and policy changes which make the PA responsive to the needs of Singapore today as well as 50 years ago.
  • Celebrating 100 Years: The Singapore Ceylon Tamils' Association, Founded 1910. Many personal records and memories and archival maps, photographs and documents are made available in this extensively illustrated softback which celebrates the 2010 centenary of the Singapore Ceylon Tamils' Association. There are many illustrated life stories of distinguished Ceylon Tamils whose lives and work played or play a significant part in the pageant of Singapore's development in the last 100 years. Roles played by the people of this small community in the history of the railways, of military forces, of Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian activity, in musical, social and culinary traditions, in sports, in education and in the Law are all illustrated and discussed.
  • Hike It! Singapore River by Chan Chi Ling. Hike It! Singapore River is the second book in the Hike It! series of walking guides. Featuring beautiful illustrations, and written in the form of an explorer's journal, this series will appeal to Singaporeans, tourists and expatriates. The walking trails have been carefully designed so that readers can experience the historical and cultural aspects of Singapore while having a great time. This book covers the Singapore River area, where readers will learn about Stamford Raffles, bumboats, famous bridges and more.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Books on the Ramayana

The Ramayana is one of India's most well loved epics, retaining the essence of the ancient Vedas and embodying lessons and truths of life that have moulded Indian sensibility. Here is a list of books on the Ramayana:
  • Ramayana in Focus: Visual and Performing Arts in Asia by Gauri Parimoo Krishnan. This, the first volume from the Asian Civilisations Museum new research and publications unit, is a substantial account of the Ramayana as presented in the visual and performing arts of Asia. Twenty-one specialists reflect on the purpose and presence of Ramayana in the literary, visual, and performing traditions. The final four essays look at its place and presentation in contemporary culture and media. With illustrations from many sources, bibliographies and index.
  • Ramayana: Divine Loophole by Sanjay Patel. Rama, a charismatic blue prince with a divine destiny, embarks on an epic quest to battle an indestructible ten-headed demon. So begins the Ramayana, one of the core legends of the Hindu mythology. Ramayana: Divine Loophole, illustrated and adapted by veteran Pixar animator Sanjay Patel, gives this 2,500-year-old story a 21st century Technicolor treatment.
  • Ramayana in the Arts of Asia by Garrett Kam. This is the most definitive work of the great Indian epic, the Ramayana, that has made made its way over the centuries to almost every corner of Southeast Asia. Art historian Garrett Kam has undertaken an extremely challenging task -- to track the various interpretations of the tale, from the Valmiki origin, about Sita's enduring love and devotion to Rama, her abduction by the ogre king Ravana, and the adventures encountered by the various heroes that led to her eventual rescue. This magnificently illustrated volume also has a useful glossary section of the variation of names of characters as well as an appendix of the different performing art and literary traditions throughout Asia.
  • The Penguin Companion to the Ramayana translated by Debjani Banerjee. This delightful companion takes the reader on a journey from Ayodhya to Lanka through forests, seas and skies. Along with an overview of the Ramayana and a synopsis, the epic is recounted, episode by episode, with analytical comments drawing parity between the present and a bygone time. An elaborate who's who points to characters embodying values such as commitment to dharma, filial duty and loyalty, and evils like greed, lust and pride. This companion also provides the reader with new insights into the spectrum of characters in the Ramayana and gives fresh perspectives on known and little-known aspects of the epic. All the events are carefully recounted in chronological order and cross-referencing helps make this masterpiece that much easier to understand. Readers will also appreciate this edition for its use of colloquial language.
  • The Ramayana by Bulbul Sharma. The Ramayana - the tale of Rama, the prince of Ayodhya, who exiles himself to the forest for fourteen years to honour his father's word - is one of the best-known epics in the world. In this version written specially for children, the ancient tale takes on new life. This contemporary retelling, which answers questions and provides explanations, is the perfect first Ramayana for every child.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Books on Southeast Asian Politics

This is a list of our recent titles Southeast Asian politics:
  • Resisting Dictatorship: Repression and Protest in Southeast Asia by Vincent Boudreau. Vincent Boudreau's book compares state repression in three post-war dictatorships under Burma's Ne Win, Indonesia's Suharto and the Philippines' Ferdinand Marcos. In each case the dictator faced distinct social challenges and responded with specifically tailored repressive strategies. These strategies shaped the resources, social bases and opposition cultures available to dissidents and in turn influenced the effectiveness of that opposition. The author balances his first-hand research in the countries in question with the social movements literature to consider the long-term interactions between the regimes and their societies in the wake of repression, and the emergence of the democracy movements which followed. This is a thought-provoking book, which offers a truly comparative study on dictatorship, resistance and democracy in Southeast Asia.
  • A Plastic Nation: The Curse of Thainess in Thai-Burmese Relations by Pavin Chachavalpongpun. A Plastic Nation examines the immense role of Thai nationhood in domestic and international politics. Although in fact ill defined, Thainess, or khwampenthai, has been consistently used by Thai leaders to legitimise their power and to defend their economic interests. Not only has the assertion of Thainess been deeply rooted in the private interests of those in power, but it has also been deployed as part of nationalist sentiment to guard against any international norms, often considered as threats to the leaders' own interests. This book is intended for students and professors in the field of Thai nationhood and Thai nationalism, as well as contemporary Thai-Burmese relations. It is also intended for policy practitioners such as those in the government and military.
  • Southeast Asia and The Great Powers by Nicolas Tarling. The success of regionalism in Southeast Asia depends on the attitudes of the states within the region but also on the attitude of those outside it. This book is an erudite and stimulating study on the latter. Placing these states in a long-term historical context Tarling brings out the way in which the rivalries of those powers within the region and outside it have affected the states within the region. He also shows how divisions within the region, and within states in the region, offered invitations and opportunities for intervention from outside, and so perhaps gave Southeast Asia an importance in international relations it would not otherwise have had. Regional leaders appear in recent decades to have recognised what may be construed as one of the lessons of history; if Southeast Asia can provide security for the Straits route, and stable conditions for trade and investment, it might enjoy both peace and a measure of prosperity.
  • Political Change, Democratic Transitions and Security in Southeast Asia by Mely Cabrello-Anthony. The fragility of democracy in Southeast Asia is a subject of increasing concern. While there has been significant movement in the direction of democratisation, the authoritarian tendencies of popularly elected leaders and the challenges posed by emerging security threats have given rise to a shared concern about the return of military rule in the region. This book examines the nature of political transitions in Southeast Asia and why political transitions towards political liberalisation and democracy have often failed to take off. It considers political systems in Southeast Asia that have gone through significant periods of transition but continue to face serious challenges toward democratic consolidation. Some key questions that the book focuses on are: Are emerging democracies in the region threatened by weak, failed or authoritarian leadership? Are political institutions that are supposed to support political changes toward democratisation weak or strong? How can democratic systems be made more resilient? What are the prospects of democracy becoming the defining political landscape in Southeast Asia?
  • Theorizing Southeast Asian Relations: Emerging Debates edited by Amitav Acharya and Richard Stubbs. The recent proliferation of theories of international relations has transformed analyses of Southeast Asia's international affairs. A new generation of scholars has promoted a lively and illuminating debate which has seen the traditional realist/neorealist approach, which continues to hold centre stage, challenged by constructivist analyses. In turn, constructivists have found themselves under fire from an array of competing approaches. This collection engages this emerging debate. It underscores the point that Southeast Asia is now an important site for applying new theories of international relations. It also demonstrates that theoretical frameworks originally developed in North America and Europe have to be adapted to the specific circumstances found in places like Southeast Asia and that this process can enrich theory building. The chapters in this book focus on the realist/neorealist, constructivist, English School and critical approaches. The resulting debate helps to shed light on ways of analysing Southeast Asian relations as well as on the evolution of these key theoretical frameworks.