Sunday, July 31, 2011
New Asian Literature Titles
Estuary by Sam Bunny. Estuary is a novel about legacy, and moving on. Mac is born in Melbourne during the war in Vietnam. Living with his adopted parents, Uncle and Meila, he experiences the reverberations of the conflict. In time, he meets Uluru, and they move to Sri Lanka, where together they realise that they can put the past behind them.
The Pilgrim by Iwan Simatupang. The Pilgrim is one of the most unusual novels to have ever been published in Indonesia. It is a complex mixture, uniting a poetic lyricism with meditation on life, death and art. The novels chief characters are an artist and a cemetery overseer; the former representing emotion and the latter, reason, conflicting aspects of human nature. Despite the characters' antagonism and cruelty they are, in some ways, very similar: both represent forms of creativity, philosophy and art. Both exist outside conventional society. Both are searching for genuine human values and are aware of their shortcomings. In The Pilgrim, the chaos of thought and feeling represent the chaos of life's own randomness. When first published, The Pilgrim was hailed as the first really modern Indonesian novel and the beginning of a completely new path in Indonesian writing.
The Reluctant Terrorist: In Search of the Jizo by Caleb Kavon. In this novel, set in contemporary Hong Kong and Japan, with flashbacks to the Second World War, a Japanese businessman takes a deliberately modest revenge against another Japanese family that damaged his own during the Second World War. His surprising act of terrorism is a paradoxical gesture for peace. We meet again characters from Kavon's first novel, "The Monkey in Me: Confusion, Love and Hope under a Chinese Sky".
The Embrace Of Harlots by David T.K. Wong. This new novel by David Wong enters into the lives of a well-to-do Hong Kong family at the end of the Colonial period. It ranges from London, Oxford and Paris where greed, family dissonance and different cultural contexts bear in on the main characters as they face the dilemmas of opportunity, decision and general confusion. Real human issues are presented with elegance.
The Hills of Singapore: A Landscape of Loss, Longing and Love by Dawn Farnham. Young, beautiful and wealthy, widow Charlotte Macleod leaves Batavia in the 1850s and returns to Singapore for the English education of her two young sons. She is determined not to be drawn back into a secret affair with Zhen, the married Chinese merchant, triad member and man she loves who is, unbeknownst to him, the father of her eldest son, Alex. Charlotte is convinced she can find happiness in a respectable marriage with the attractive but reticent Captain Maitland. But when murder and death strike, Singapore erupts in the violence of triad wars and Zhen's growing affection for Alex gives cause for alarm, she must make some hard decisions, for her children and herself. Drawing on the real-life historical personalities of the time, Dawn Farnham mixes fact and fiction to paint a rich portrait of mid-19th-century Singapore and the realm of the White Rajah of Sarawak, at a time when triads, piracy and crime were rife and life in colonial Southeast Asia was anything but safe.