The Future of Asian Literature
Bringing together contemporary writers from Malaysia, Korea, Japan, and Thailand, this bundle provides a glimpse into the incredible work being written across Asia today. With a little help of some of the best translators around, you’ll explore moody adolescence in a Korean seaside town; a quiet Japanese village with some dark secrets; a forgotten Thai community living in the shadow of a skyscraper that comes together to take care of a boy after he is abandoned by his parents; and more. So much more.
Translated from Chinese by Natascha Bruce
By an author described by critics as “the most accomplished Malaysian writer, full stop,” Lake Like a Mirror is a scintillating exploration of the lives of women buffeted by powers beyond their control. Squeezing themselves between the gaps of rabid urbanization, patriarchal structures and a theocratic government, these women find their lives twisted in disturbing ways.
“Dreamlike…[Ho Sok Fong] has created a world in these stories that is entirely, and uniquely, her own. Straddling the surreal and the pointedly political, Ho reveals herself to be a writer of immense talent and range.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
Translated from Korean by Sunhee Jeong
Best friends b and Rang are all each other have. Their parents are absent, their teachers avert their eyes when they walk by. Everyone else in town acts like they live in Seoul even though it’s painfully obvious they don’t. When Rang begins to be bullied horribly by the boys in baseball hats, b fends them off. But one day Rang unintentionally tells the whole class about b’s dying sister and how her family is poor, and each of them finds herself desperately alone. The only place they can reclaim themselves, and perhaps each other, is beyond the part of town where lunatics live—the End.
In a piercing, heartbreaking, and astonishingly honest voice, Kim Sagwa’s b, Book, and Me walks the precipice between youth and adulthood, reminding us how perilous the edge can be.
Translated from Japanese by Angus Turvill
All societies, whether big or small, try to hide their wounds away. In this, his Mishima Prize-winning masterpiece, Masatsugu Ono considers a fishing village on the Japanese coast. Here a new police chief plays audience for the locals, who routinely approach him with bottles of liquor and stories to tell. As the city council election approaches, and as tongues are loosened by drink, evidence of rampant corruption piles up—and a long-held feud between the village’s captains of industry, two brothers-in-law, threatens to boil over.
Meanwhile, just out of frame, the chief’s teenage daughter is listening, slowly piecing the locals’ accounts together, reading into their words and poring over the silence they leave behind. As accounts of horrific violence—including a dangerous attempt to save some indentured Korean coal mine workers from the Japanese military police and the fate of a group of Chinese refugees—steadily come into focus, she sets out for the Bay, where the tide has recently turned red and an ominous boat from the past has suddenly reappeared.
Populated by an infectious cast of characters that includes a solemn drunk with a burden to bear; a scarred woman constantly tormented by the local kids’ fireworks; a lone communist; and the “Silica Four,” a group of out-of-work men who love to gossip—Echo on the Bay is a quiet, masterful epic in village miniature. Proof again that there are no small stories—and that History’s untreated wounds, no matter how well hidden, fester, always threatening to resurface.
Translated from Thai by Mui Poopoksakul
“Enchanting . . . [a] melancholy-tinged but still exuberant novel.” —Publishers Weekly
“Beyond Duanwad Pimwana’s devoted handling of Kampol’s perspective, what makes Bright a pleasure is her careful effort in crafting a world of people for the boy to investigate . . . Pimwana’s use of characterization is superb.” —Words Without Borders