Singaporean writer Wena Poon on life and death in occupied Kyoto


wenapoonAs a child living in a tiny apartment in Singapore, Wena Poon listened to radio plays broadcast in a variety of languages and watched TV — everything from Chinese sword-fighting operas to popular American series such as “M*A*S*H.” “There was nowhere to go outside,” Poon says, “so I just sat around. It was an audio-visual childhood.”

Now a writer and Harvard-educated lawyer, Poon lives in Austin, Texas, with her Australian-American husband. Though the stories in her first collection, “Lions in Winter,” took place mostly in her native country, her novel “Alex y Robert,” about a young American woman who wants to be a bullfighter, was set in Spain. The book was published to acclaim in Britain, where it was broadcast on BBC Radio 4. A short story she wrote based on this novel was later nominated for France’s Prix Hemingway.

The novella “Kami and Kaze,” published in February, takes place in Kyoto during the American occupation following World War II. The main character is an American named Kate, who takes a position in the public-health department of the American Army. On her first day, she is assigned a Japanese driver. Their relationship unfolds in sharply written, understated scenes, as Kate deals with an immediate public-relations disaster — 68 Japanese infants have died after receiving an inoculation against diphtheria administered by American medics.

Read More

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s