Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Books on Peranakan Culture and Heritage

This is a selection of titles from our comprehensive stock of books on Peranakan culture and heritage:

Nyonya Kebaya: Intricacies of the Peranakan Heritage by Christine Ong Kiat Neo. This book is a comprehensive guide to Nyonya Kebaya dressing and fashion. With a large number of beautiful colour photographs of alluring kebayas, this book will be an essential guide on how to wear and match lovely kebaya outfits. There is a section offering a brief history of nyonya kebaya, batik sarong and kebaya embroidery, followed by detailed tips and ideas on how to wear and match keyayas, how to create ensembles and how to care for kebayas.

Modern Nyonya by Sylvia Tan. The veteran cookery writer Sylvia Tan here brings together 70 of her favourite nonya recipes in this delightfully illustrated volume. The first chapter notes significant features in Peranakan food history and its styles including how to create the essential and distinctive rempah or spice pastes. Seventy recipes are clearly set out. With illustrated glossary, index and measurement tables.

Kebaya Tales: Of Matriarchs, Maidens, Mistresses and Matchmakers by Lee Su Kim. These 13 short stories are set in the world of nonyas, the women of the distinctive Straits Chinese or Peranakan community of Malaysia and Singapore. After a short introduction on Peranakan identity, the lively stories highlight many aspects of the history, lifestyles and issues which face or faced nonyas. With archival photographs, and colour photographs of kebayas and other nonya artefacts.

Straits Chinese Silver: A Collector's Guide by Ho Wing Meng. This beautifully illustrated volume examines the exquisite silver of the Straits Chinese, or Peranakans - Hindu-Islamic in shape and function but strangely characteristic of the Chinese in emblem and decorative design. Detailed information regarding the usage of the various articles as well as historic photographs and drawings vividly portray the now-lost world of the Straits Chinese. Notes, glossary and bibliography included.
A Peranakan Legacy: The Heritage of the Straits Chinese by Peter Wee, Peter. Exquisite pieces, embroidered clothing, stunning gold and silver jewellery, pretty porcelain artefacts and unusual items of daily living chronicle the rich heritage of the Peranakans or Straits Chinese - a people whose unique culture is an amalgamation of Eastern and Western influences: Chinese, Malay, Indian, Indonesian, Portuguese, Dutch and British. This book captures through lavish, full-colour photographs the Peranakan's strong sense of customs and etiquette and introduces readers to their way of life.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Books by Political Prisoners in Asia

These are a selection of books on or by political prisoners in Asia:

Bilanggo: Life as a Political Prisoner in the Philippines 1952-1962 by William J.  Pomeroy.  Bilanggo is the diary of a decade behind bars. William Pomeroy and his wife Celia Mariano, like hundreds of other communists and militants, were sent to prison in the early 1950s for participating in the Huk guerrilla struggle for national liberation. Pomeroy's personal narrative of the armed struggle, The Forest, has become a classic. Bilanggo is its sequel, written with the same immediacy and power. It describes how the political prisoners endured stretches of solitary confinement, were denied basic amenities, and witnessed horrific outbursts of violence between warring prison gangs. But above all, it depicts how they refused to be broken, or to give up their vision and ideals.

Passion, Betrayal, and Revolution in Colonial Saigon: The Memoirs of Bao Luong by Ho Tai Hue-Tam. This is the incredible story of Bao Luong, Vietnam's first female political prisoner. In 1927, when she was just 18, Bao Luong left her village home to join Ho Chi Minh's Revolutionary Youth League and fight both for national independence and for women's equality. A year later, she became embroiled in the Barbier Street murder, a crime in which unruly passion was mixed with revolutionary ardour. Weaving together Bao Luong's own memoir with excerpts from newspaper articles, family gossip, and official documents, this book by Bao Luong's niece takes us from rural life in the Mekong Delta to the bustle of colonial Saigon. It provides a rare snapshot of Vietnam in the first decades of the twentieth century and a compelling account of one woman's struggle to make a place for herself in a world fraught with intense political intrigue.

Beyond the Blue Gate: Recollections of a Political Prisoner by Teo Soh Lung. Singapore lawyer Teo Soh Lung has written this careful account of her experiences and feelings when detained in Whitley Detention Centre 21 from May 1987 to 6 September 1987, and from April 1988 to 1 June 1990. Accused of involvement in the alleged "Marxist Conspiracy", Soh Lung discusses many legal aspects of the case, including Singapore's banning of London QC Anthony Lester and her various Appeal attempts. She tells of the regime and her physical and emotional suffering, as well as the strategies and beliefs which enabled her to retain her integrity and balance in circumstances intended to subdue her. Relevant official documents are appended.

In a Jakarta Prison: Life Stories of Women Inmates by Sujinah. This book tells, in a prose-journalism style, the stories of women in prison: what crimes they committed and the reasons behind their crimes. As told by Sujinah, herself a political prisoner, these stories offer insight frank insights into the position of women in Indonesia.

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, August 22, 2011

New Distribution Title: The Equanimous Mind

The Equanimous Mind: How a Ten-Day Mediation Boot Camp Awakened My Awareness to the Fundamental Principles of Life and Existence is a heart-felt and inspiring chronicle of the meditation camp experience of an open-minded, successful and intelligent partner of a global management consulting firm. Manish Chopra describes in detail his inner journey at the camp and the life-changing impact it had on him.

Manish Chopra is a partner at a global management consulting firm, where he advices CEOs, senior executives, and government officials on strategy topics. He grew up in India and attended college at the Indian Institute of Technology(IIT) in Delhi before completing his masters and PhD from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Manish is now a firm believer and devoted practitioner of Vipassana, the technique that Siddartha Gautama (The Budda) rediscovered and used to achieve enlightenment over two millennia ago. This book is Manish's attempt to share the benefits of the technique and to inspire readers to stop chasing the ephemeral and prioritise what really matters.

A vivid,upclose and heartfelt account of a personal transformation. Startling and inspiring, this is a must-read for all who aspire to explore their inner selves.
- Vikram Khanna, Associate Editor, Singapore Business Times

As someone I respect and have worked with, it was exciting for me to see how this experience changed Manish’s life.
- Mike Kaufmann, CEO(Pharmaceutical Segment), Cardinal Health

We expend so much time and energy caught up in the outside world. Manish’s rich description of his inner journey- and the transformative changes it has brought for him- should inspire us to stop chasing the ephemeral and prioritise what really matters.
- Professor Jasjit Singh, INSEAD Business School

A wonderful modern-day account of amazing powers of the ancient practice of meditation. Manish has a natural talent for writing and I recommend this book whole-heartedly for anyone interested in self-transformation.
- Vikas Malkani, Best-selling author of The Little Manual of Meditation

Manish was invited to share his thoughts on the book with Eugene Low on his A Slice of Life radio programme on July 29, 2011.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Books on Civil Society and NGOs in Asia

These are several titles that we stock that examine the roles that civil society and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) play in Asian countries:

The Aware Saga: Civil Society and Public Morality in Singapore edited by Terence Chong. In March 2009, the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) was briefly taken over by a Christian faction. Their coup was overturned within a matter of weeks, but the episode highlighted a variety of issues, including the role of religion in civil society, sex education, homosexuality, state intervention and media engagement. Although the immediate issue was control of an activist group concerned with women's rights, it has implications for the agendas and concerns of NGOs, 'culture wars', the processes of citizenry mobilisation, mass participation and noisy democracy, and liberal voices in contemporary Singapore. In this book, academics and public intellectuals examine the AWARE saga within the context of Singapore's civil society, considering the political and historical background and how the issues it raised relate to contemporary societal trends. In addition to documenting a milestone event for Singapore's civil society, the authors offer provocative interpretations that will interest a broad range of readers.

State and Civil Society: The Chinese Perspective edited by Deng Zhenglai. In this volume, the second in a projected series on Developing China, 15 senior Chinese scholars offer their perspectives and analyses on many issues of state and civil society in China. These included aspects of the relevance and applicability of some of the historical and empirical work done using global and Western perspectives. Part One offers theoretical reflections on concepts of Civil Society in China. The papers in Part Two incorporate historical research and those in Part Three look at some modern developments in the country's Civil Society. Index.

Listening to Voices from Inside: Myanmar Civil Society's Response to Cyclone Nargis. This book uses the experience of responding to Cyclone Nargis tragedy as a way to stock take the current state of civil society in Myanmar, and to understand how it has changed as a result of this significant event. It highlights the perspectives of civil society leaders who live and work in Myanmar, and seeks to contribute to the increasing debate on how to address Myanmar's political challenges. It is organised into three parts: Analysing the Impact of Cyclone Nargis on Civil Society in Myanmar; Listening to Local Voices: Narratives; and External Perspectives.

Working for Democracy: Footprints from Civil Society in Malaysia. The work of five Malaysian NGOs active in connection with poverty, education, youth activism, religious freedom and with women's rights is discussed. Light is shed on the ongoing needs of Tamil women in the plantation sector, and on strategies to improve the care and education of poor pre-school Tamil estate children. A youth-based study shows the nature of and need for youth-based political involvement. Two other studies highlight the need for careful strategies in approaching gender/religion issues and for well-prepared dialogue. Many issues for thought and action are raised.

Recolonisation: Foreign Funded NGOs In Sri Lanka by Susantha Soonatilake. Foreign-funded NGOs can have far-reaching effects on the structure and existing life patterns of the receiving countries. This often-outspoken and provocative study of foreign-funded development activities in Sri Lanka looks at their impacts in the areas of social policies and development, human rights, international relations, and academia. Case studies are seen to demonstrate how the sometimes opaque agendas of NGOs have led to the degradation of functioning local efforts and civil society. The result is seen to be imposed recolonisation. Bibliography and index.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Books on Asian Cultures

This is a selection of titles on Asian cultures:  

Culture India: Philosophy, Religion, Arts, Literature, Society edited by Mahendra Kulasrestha.  This is a re-publication of a work originally published in 1962 as a part of the Tagore Centenary Volume. It is a compendium of essays on Indian philosophy, religion, arts, literature and society contributed by eminent Indian scholars, including Radhakrishnan, Suniti Kumar Chatterji, Svetoslav Roerich among others. Essay topics include The Philosophy of India, Buddhism and the Upanishads, Ashoka: The First King of Peace, Varnashrama and Caste, Rigvedic Poetic Spirit and Sanskrit Literature.

Coming of Age: Forgotten Faces of a Greying Asia by David Tay and Poey Cher.  These 80 photo portraits by widely-recognised Singaporean David Tay are of aged Asian people of many ethnicities and walks of life. Some of the portraits are complemented with age-old sayings or literary quotations. Unusual insights are offered in this uncomplicated publication.

Zen and Japanese Culture by Daistz T. Suzuki.  Acknowledged as Japan's foremost authority on Zen Buddhism, Daisetz T. Suzuki's greatest achievement was to open up a path to the essential spirit of Zen thought to the West. He devoted much of his long life - he died in 1966 aged 95 - to this, but nowhere does he encapsulate his teaching and philosophy more powerfully than in Zen and Japanese Culture. First published in 1938 and fully revised in 1958 to incorporate new topics which had aroused Suzuki's interest, the book remains a classic study of the "the spirit of Zen". After briefly explaining what Zen is, Dr Suzuki considers in detail various aspects of Japanese life and art that this Buddhist discipline has influenced: the cult of swordsmanship, the tea ceremony, the haiku form, and the Japanese love of nature. Other essays are devoted to the relationship of Zen and Confucianism, to the role of Zen in the tradition of the Samurai and to Japanese art. The book also contains a bibliography, index, 69 illustrations chosen to complement the text and to highlight the finest in Japanese Zen art and calligraphy.

Malay Heritage of Singapore edited by Aileen Lau and Bernhard Platzdasch.  Malay life and culture on Singapore island can be traced back to the 7th century and it has of course always formed a basic factor in Singapore's history and development. The 16 sections in this extensively illustrated volume by specialists, and together they explore the many dimensions of the Malay heritage. The early history of Temasek, Singapura and the first British years are overviewed and then trade patterns, buildings, settled kampongs, community life, material culture including traditional weapons and costume, arts, music and leisure activities are all explored. Illustrations, archival material and reminiscences contribute to knowledge of the very diverse ways in which Malays and Malay culture are and have been part of Singapore's diversity. With bibliography, maps, and about 500 photographs.

In Grandmother’s House: Thai Folklore, Traditions and Rural Village Life by Sorasing Kaowai and Peter Robinson.  This is a gentle account of life in a then-remote village where the author was brought up by his grandmother who had spent her life (1921-1991) following traditional patterns of life in rural Thailand. He tells of local traditional beliefs, of daily life and hardships, and of the wisdoms he gained which have proved of lasting value in his city adulthood. With explanatory notes by the co-author.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

New Distribution Partner: Haven Books

Select Books is pleased to announce that we have been appointed by Haven Books to be their exclusive distributor in Singapore for their kidsGo! series of travel guidebooks.

Haven Books is a dynamic English-language press based in Hong Kong. Their books focus primarily on Asian and international themes, and are enjoyed worldwide by readers of all ages. They publish strong, fresh titles on a wide variety of topics - including exciting fiction, cookbooks, photography and travel books, children's illustrated books, young adult novels, and reference books. They are a founding member of the Independent Publishers of Hong Kong, and actively promotes Asia-based writers and literary organizations.

With regular guidebooks, you have to wade through 200 pages to figure out what to. But honestly, who has the time? The kidsGo! guidebooks give readers the top selections for the type of day you're planning to have:

Top Sights And Must-Do’s
Be A Culture Vulture
Talking With The Animals
Go Walk About!
Museum Mania
Food, Glorious Food
It’s Raining, It’s Pouring
Get Wild And Wet
Shop Till You Drop

Also listed are Fast Facts, basic foreign phrases, do’s and don’ts, things to spot, plus strange and wonderful nuggets of History And Culture. Useful area maps put the main landmarks in context, so that the family can plan its day at a glance.
There is also an accompanying website: kidsgotravelguides.com

The series has been reviewed in Four Seasons Magazine in May 11: "...filled with suggestions that the whole family can finally agree on."

Books already released in the series include kidsGo! Phuket and kidsGo! Hong Kong.