By Tan Kaiyi

Singapore flag on HDB

I was setting up the livestream on the living room’s television when Ma called. “Ah Boon, hand me the gift packs on the table.” I ignored her for the moment, playing around with the video settings. Finally, the words “The Parade Will Start In…” appeared on screen, followed by a countdown timer below them.

There was an ongoing discussion to call the parade ‘a ceremony’. I remember a member of the opposition questioning a minister of the ruling party on the choice of words. “It’s a show of power, of our strength,” the minister had said. “Is it? Many performances seem more like acts of reverence, not deterrence,” his opponent had fired back. She had a point though. The parade usually began with protective blessings from the leaders of our four major religions.

But nothing changed. It was still called a parade.

Ma shouted for me again. I yelled back, saying that I heard her.

I took up the four scarlet packs, one for each of us, from the dining room table and walked into the kitchen. There used to be five but that was two years ago.

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It is heartening to see Asian writing move out of shadows into the mainstream of literary circles with major publishers, like Penguin, giving a hand to not only greats like Satyajit Ray, Han Suyin and Tagore but also to immigrant writers who crossed the seas to find new life rejecting the violence and angst of political doings in their home countries.

In China, stories of how people swam across the seas and got picked up by boats and emigrated to America in the early and mid-twentieth century were circulated among expats by children of these immigrants; young people who returned to plush new jobs in American multi-nationals in the twenty first century. Now Penguin has classified stories  by some Asian immigrants in the twentieth century as ‘classics’ and is reprinting them. Are these classics as exciting as the first hand stories of immigrants crossing oceans?

Al Ahli Holding Group (AAHG), a UAE-based international conglomerate, has entered into a strategic tie-up with Japan’s Sanrio through its recently launched subsidiary, Al Ahli Publishing and Distribution (APD).

Following its successful partnership with Marvel earlier this year, APD has acquired the publishing rights to intellectual properties of Sanrio’s most prominent character “Hello Kitty”.

Two of the most successful Japanese novels of the past few years that have been translated into English are Hiromi Kawakami’s “The Briefcase” and Fuminori Nakamura’s “Last Winter, We Parted.” Both were translated by Allison Markin Powell, a literary translator and editor based in New York: The Japan Times

Translating, like writing, is a solitary job and interaction with the writer is limited. “For “Last Winter, We Parted” I had a handful of questions for Nakamura after the editing process, questions about the language or specific items that appear in the book that I may not understand or recognize,” she says. “But I’ve translated books by people such as Osamu Dazai. You can’t ask Dazai any questions. To be honest I don’t really see the author as more or less of an authority on their book from a translation perspective.”

Some writers would disagree.

Roger Pulvers in The Japan Times

For years I have been watching from the sidelines as the opponents battle it out. For the players this fight will go on and on, and the theater of war is right here.

This is a linguistic war, but it naturally involves archaeology, history, religion and a host of wounded egos. The question to be decided is: What exactly are the origins of the Japanese language?