New Releases from Asia: November 2019


Title: The Best Asian Short Stories, 2019

Editors: Hisham Bustani (Series Editor: Zafar Anjum)

Publisher: Kitaab

Year of publication: 2019

Pages: 377

Price: $25

Links: Kitaab Bookstore

About: War, loss, love, compassion, nightmares, dreams, hopes and catastrophes; this is literary Asia at its best. From a wide range of geographies spanning from Palestine to Japan, from Kazakhstan to the Malaysia, mobilizing a wide array of innovative narrative styles and writing techniques, the short stories of this anthology, carefully curated by one of Asia’s prominent and daring writers, will take you on a power trip of deep exploration of local (yet global) pains and hopes, a celebration (and contemplation) of humanity and its impact, as explored by 24 writers and 6 translators, many of whom identify with many homes, giving Asia what it truly represents across (and beyond) its vast territory, expansive history, and many traditions and languages. This book is an open celebration of multi-faceted creativity and plurality.

Contributors:JOEL DONATO JACOB (Philippines); LANA ABDEL RAHMAN (Lebanon): RAZIA SULTANA KHAN (Bangladesh); DEENA DAJANI (Palestine); ALAN IRID FENDI (Syria); SAMIDHA KALIA (India); SCOTT PLATT-SALCEDO (Philippines); ANITHA DEVI PILLAI (Singapore); ANGELO WONG (Hong Kong); ODAI AL ZOUBI (Syria); SIMON ROWE (New Zealand / Japan); SEEMA PUNWANI (Singapore); VRINDA BALIGA (India); NAMRATA PODDAR (India / USA); T.A. MORTON (Ireland / Hong Kong); HAMID ISMAILOV (Uzbekistan); SUCHI GOVINDARAJAN (India); YD CHANG (China / Malaysia); JOLIN KWOK (Malaysia); IMRAN KHAN (Bangladesh); YAN TI (Taiwan); ZIRA NAURZBAYEVA (Kazakhstan); KAISA AQUINO (Philippines); JOSE VARGHESE (India)



Title: Scream to the Shadows

Author: Tunku Halim

Publisher: Penguin SEA

Year of publication: 2019

Pages: 360

Price: SGD 14.50

Links if any: Penguin Random House

About: Unconfined to a single theme, this new collection of twenty short stories by Tunku Halim offers five distinct worlds—the paranormal mysteries from ‘The occult world’, with its dark settings reveal supernatural existences in the characteristic Halim style.


Title: Fall Baby

Author: Laksmi Pamuntjak

Publisher: Penguin SEA

Year of publication: 2019

Pages: 320

Price: SGD 27.90

Links: Penguin Random House

About: Fall Baby tells the story of two women who used to be best friends—Srikandi (Siri), a globetrotting visual artist, and Dara, a political activist. It is a story of seeing and unseeing; of freedom and censorship; of East and West; of memory and identity; of family bonds and making peace with the past; and ultimately, of the most unexpected yet precious gift of all: the sisterhood of women.


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Title:  Coming Back to the City: Mumbai Stories

Author: Anuradha Kumar

Publisher: Speaking Tiger Books

Year of publication: 2019

Pages: 328

Price: Rs. 499, $ 6.50

Links if any: Speaking Tiger 

About: In Parel’s Jupiter Mills chawl—one of the few remaining in Mumbai—live many long-time residents. Among them, Pooja, restless and trapped in an unhappy marriage, who finds joy in her flourishing dabba service and attempts at learning English, even as her husband Mahesh flirts with the underworld and dreams of zipping through the streets in his boss’s yellow Mercedes-Benz. Pooja’s friend, Vasudha, a scheming single mother who hopes to give her daughter a better life in the treacherous city. And their upstairs neighbour, Dr Joshi, a famed artist, who has hidden away two paintings—one of a murder he witnessed, and the other a striking portrait of Pooja.

In the parallel Mumbai of high-rises that loom over the city’s slums and chawls live the affluent few: Suhel, a confirmed bachelor, who finds himself falling in love—first with a portrait and then its subject, Pooja. An upcoming politician of dubious repute, Mahesh’s boss Ghatge, whose devious intentions could destroy the peace of Jupiter Mills. A young and disturbed journalist Raina Gupta who opens up old wounds when she interviews veteran activist Neera Joshi about the mill-workers’ strike of the 1980s and her scandalous affair with its assassinated leader. And Dr Sneha Desai, a successful but lonely radiologist, fighting to restart her sex-education classes for adolescents in a municipal school. In the Mumbai of mills and malls where everything—especially land—is at a premium, the chawl becomes the target of greedy real-estate barons and sleazy politicians, thus bringing together this interconnected cast of characters. As vast and diverse as Mumbai itself, Coming Back to the City draws us effortlessly, completely into the lives of the people who animate the maximum city, even as they are consumed by it—people caught in a web of unexpected love, desperate ambition and endless, addictive optimism.


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Title: To Gather Your Leaving: Asian Diaspora Poetry from America, Australia, UK and Europe

Editors:  Boey Kim Cheng, Arin Alycia Fong and Justin Chia

Published by: Ethos Books

Year of publication: November 2019

Pages: 684

PB Price: S$28.04 (before GST) / S$30.00 (after GST)

Ebook Price: S$21.00

Links : Ethos bookstore

About: Tracking the developments of Asian diaspora poetry in America, Australia, UK and Europe, To Gather Your Leaving is a groundbreaking global anthology that explores new ways of looking at nation, culture, identity, and place. Gathered here are established and new poets who are migrants, refugees, and descendants of Asian ancestry, poets who straddle two or more languages, cultures, and places, and who question and complicate the notion of home in the age of global change and transnational crossings. The poems collected here, spanning over three decades and representing three generations, eschew straightforward answers to the questions of identity and citizenship, offering profoundly rich, diverse and moving perspectives on what it means to belong on this earth.


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Title: The Last Days

Author: William Tham Wai Liang

Publisher: Clarity Publishing

Year of publication: 2020

Pages: 208

Price: RM39 / SGD 13

About: 1981.Kuala Lumpur. An aging Communist revolutionary arrives in the hazy heart of the capital while the country lurches towards a political turning point; a time marked by protests, clandestine arrests and media suppression.

A woman known only as H agrees to document the revolutionary’s story and her dangerous task is complicated by the fragmented memories of her family’s own complicity during the violent days of the Emergency. As a silent assassin closes in, their lives become steadily intertwined as Malaysia’s own history — and future — becomes unrecognisable.

The Last Days, the second novel by William Tham Wai Liang, cuts through the murky layers of history to explore how our stories disappear and become realigned in unexpected and shattering ways.


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Title: The Impermanence of Lilies

Author: Daniel Yeo

Published by: Ethos Books

Year of publication: November 2019

Pages: 264

PB Price: S$18.60 (before GST) / S$19.90 (after GST)

Ebook Price: S$13.93

Links: Ethos Bookstore

About: The captain of the Titanic went down with his ship on 15 April, 1912. But thoughts have power, and those who endure in the stories of the living are said to continue to roam the world after their deaths. And so the captain wanders in search of the things he tried to find in life, and discovers his destiny intimately entwined with a painter who shares the same fate, not knowing that their paths had crossed a long time ago.

The Impermanence of Lilies is a melancholic tribute to the nature of life and a yearning for love, in a story that reaches across lifetimes, borders, and the space between two hearts.

Contributors Featured

 Aishah Alhadad · Alicia Tuckerman · Arin Alycia Fong · Chen Cuifen ·
Cyril Wong · David Whish-Wilson · Diana Rahim · Heather Teo ·
Jay Anderson · Jinny Koh · Laurie Steed · Leslie Thiele · Marylyn Tan ·
Rachelle Rechichi · Rajkumar Thiagaras · Rashida Murphy · Choo Ruizhi ·
Sabrina Dudgeon-Swift · Tinashe Jakwa · Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes


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Title: Japan Made Easy

Author: Sandeep Goyal

Publisher: HarperCollins India

Year of publication: 2019 (October)

Pages: 330

Price: Rs 399

Links:  Amazon

About: For the average Indian, Japan is the land of the bullet train, zippy cars, and geisha girls, as also hard to understand. However, what appears to be opaque and insular to the world outside turns out to be a society that is friendly, intimate, and closely knit together when you get to know it better. In Japan Made Easy, Sandeep Goyal, an old hand at explaining the country, takes us on a joyous roller coaster ride through Japanese aesthetics, business, culture, food, philosophy, spirituality, and much else, to make this land of mystery and mystique familiar to us. With India’s rising number of tourists to Japan and Olympics 2020 on the horizon, this book is the best guide to a complex, nuanced and an utterly lovable country. Read more here.


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Title: In This Desert, There Were Seeds

Editors: Elizabeth Tan and Jon Gresham

Co-Published by: Ethos Books and Margaret River Press  

Year of publication: November 2019

Pages: 232

PB Price: S$22.00 (before GST) / S$23.54 (after GST)

Ebook Price: S$16.48

Links if any: Ethos Bookstore

About: Endangered tigers connecting telepathically through time-travel; a guard’s ethical dilemma at a history museum; a slaughterhouse worker’s memories of his dead wife; a monochrome town upended by a wild watermelon…

In This Desert, There Were Seeds is an intimate collection of past and future dreams, featuring exciting new and established literary voices from Western Australia and Singapore. From our shifting sense of community and identity, to our frustrations with existing political, social and economic structures—this anthology transcends boundaries and captures the persistence of ordinary lives in deserts literal and metaphorical.

 Contributors Featured

Aishah Alhadad · Alicia Tuckerman · Arin Alycia Fong · Chen Cuifen ·
Cyril Wong · David Whish-Wilson · Diana Rahim · Heather Teo ·
Jay Anderson · Jinny Koh · Laurie Steed · Leslie Thiele · Marylyn Tan ·
Rachelle Rechichi · Rajkumar Thiagaras · Rashida Murphy · Choo Ruizhi ·
Sabrina Dudgeon-Swift · Tinashe Jakwa · Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes



Title: In Search of Heer

Author: Manjul Bajaj

Publisher: Tranquebar

Year of publication: 2019

Pages: 286 pages

Price: Rs 325

Links: Amazon

About: In the village of Takht Hazara, the musically gifted Deedho Ranjha struggles against family and society. He rejects the pursuit of wealth and power as the measure of a man’s worth. In distant Jhang, the spirited Heer Syal is an accomplished warrior who fearlessly challenges the norms of her community. Heer and Ranjha are destined to meet and fall in love—the former chastised for her ‘manly’ pursuits and the latter ridiculed for his lack thereof.



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