Tag - the-asian-bookshelf

 
 

THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF

CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Oct 11, 2009
Lessons of total devotion and high cruelty
LONG ROAD HOME: Testimony of a North Korean Camp Survivor, by Kim Yong (with Kim Suk Young). Columbia University Press, 2009, 168 pp., $24.50 (hardcover) The author of this excruciating memoir led an unquestioning life in North Korea until one of the routine checks experienced by the citizens of that country revealed that his father had perhaps been engaged in "espionage."
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Sep 27, 2009
Inner life of a giant revealed
REFLECTIONS IN A GLASS DOOR: Memory and Melancholy in the Personal Writings of Natsume Soseki, by Marvin Marcus. Honolulu: Hawaii University Press, 2009, 268 pp., $49 (hardcover) Author of a well-received study of the biographical writings of Mori Ogai ("Paragons of the Ordinary," 1993), Marvin Marcus now turns to the man widely regarded as the most important novelist of the Meiji Era, Natsume Soseki (1867-1916), author of "Wagahai Wa Neko de Aru" (I Am a Cat), "Kokoro," and "Botchan."
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Sep 13, 2009
Road map for increasingly accessible world of Japanese cinema
JAPANESE CINEMA, by Stuart Galbraith IV. Taschen, 2009, 192 pp., 354 photographs, $29.99 (hardcover) This is a large (23.1 cm by 28.9 cm), fully illustrated account of Japanese film from its beginnings. There have now been a number of such histories, each perforce written from different perspectives and using various paradigms and methodologies. This latest entry, from the esteemed author of "The Emperor and the Wolf" — the most detailed study of director Akira Kurosawa and his iconic leading actor Toshiro Mifune — begins from the premise that there is now so much more to see.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Aug 30, 2009
The artistic influence of the East
This large and lavish volume is the catalog of an important art exhibition at the New York Guggenheim Museum that ran from Jan. 20 to April 19 this year. Since the show itself is not traveling to other venues, this excellent account of its purposes and content is now all that remains of one of the most thoughtful and rewarding art shows of the year.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Aug 16, 2009
The pure horror of Hiroshima
In 1946, just after the first anniversary of the destruction of Hiroshima, "The New Yorker" magazine's Aug. 31 issue published the complete text of John Hersey's portrait of the atom bomb and its effects on the Japanese city.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Aug 2, 2009
When does popular become canonical?
Some scholars would seem to think that methodologies (systems of methods used to focus on particular areas of study) never alter. Other scholars know that the methods change as the area under study enlarges and that ways of looking at the subject are always being transformed by the subject itself.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jul 19, 2009
A bird's-eye view of Japanese arts
Books on the specifics of Japanese culture (as compared to those on cultural generalities) were not always as available as they are now. The concept of culture did not have the political intentions that are now so much a part of it. Books on the purported uniqueness of the Japanese "national character" (nihonjinron) had yet to begin their advance, and the rest of the world knew so little about Japan that ignorance and mystery became cultural concepts in themselves.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jul 5, 2009
The Shanxi trilogy: films that never made it back home
Sometimes called the most significant of the current generation of Chinese film directors, Jia Zhangke (b. 1970) enjoys the distinction of never having had some of his finest work commercially shown in his own country.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jun 21, 2009
Secrets to studying Japanese film
In its field I cannot imagine a research guide more needed. For whole decades scholars have struggled simply to locate sources, even to find out what there were. Now, however, the skill and stamina of Mark Nornes and Aaron Gerow have resulted in a reference work that both illuminates and defines this field, clearing a formerly obscured terrain for future scholarship.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jun 7, 2009
Apichatpong Weerasethakul: No ordinary Joe
Perhaps no Asian film director since Akira Kurosawa has received the critical attention bestowed on 39 year-old Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul. His "Blissfully Yours" won a major Cannes Festival prize in 2002; "Tropical Malady," took the 2004 Jury Prize and the Tokyo FilmEx first prize; and his latest film, "Syndromes and a Century" (2006), was the first Thai film shown at the Venice Film Festival and recently won a major prize at the inaugural Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
May 24, 2009
From Meiji gentleman to 'Japanese Yankee'
This curiosity (a first-person account of the writer's gradual transformation from Meiji gentleman to self-proclaimed "Japanese Yankee") was first published in 1898 (by the Congregational Church) and never again seen until now.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
May 10, 2009
Gained in translation: bringing Asian poetry to the English language
SONGS OF LOVE, MOON AND WIND: Poems From the Chinese, translated by Kenneth Rexroth, selected by Eliot Weinberger. New York: New Directions, 2009, 90 pp., $12.95 (paper)
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Apr 19, 2009
Finding the exotic, alien other
The subject of the exotic and alien other is a perennial. In Japanese literature the foreign influence is usually traced to its reappearance in a native product and the results are appraised.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Apr 5, 2009
Deciphering 'A Page of Madness'
Teinosuke Kinugasa's "A Page of Madness" ("Kurutta Ichipeiji," 1926) was long thought lost. Only some 75 years later did the discovery of the missing negative allow the picture to be finally viewed by the present generation. At the same time there emerged a critical need to evaluate it because it seemed a somewhat strange entertainment.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Mar 22, 2009
'Arabia Deserta's' fascinating substance and glorious, unconventional style renewed
In 1876 the young Charles Doughty set out to cross the interior of the Arabian Peninsula. His goal was the "lost" city of Madain Saleh and several years were spent in what were later called his "wanderings": explorations of a terrain little known to Europeans, the discovery of the remains of the sought-for city and detailed accounts of what he discovered there, with particular attention paid to the local geology.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Mar 8, 2009
Tokyo city: living in constant flux
John Milton was of the opinion that "towered cities please us then, and the busy hum of men." Tokyo would have delighted him. Largest city in the world, it has long busily hummed. Home of the first tower (dungeon-keep of the earliest Edo castle) it now has enough towering skyscrapers for everyone.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Feb 22, 2009
Volatile and barren, yet beautiful and alluring
The Great Gobi Desert is one of the most inhospitable of all places. It covers 13 million square kilometers of Central Asia and is the land furthest removed from any sea or ocean. This results in a volatile climate, fierce winds and massive sandstorms. The few inhabitants of the place say that you can experience all four seasons in one day — from freezing winter to burning summer. And, as though to complete the devastation, this is where the Chinese located their nuclear testing ground.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Feb 8, 2009
Definitive 'Record of Linji' well worth a wait of 40 years
The Linji-lu is one of the most influential of all Zen texts. Presumably a collection of the lectures and sermons of Linji Yixuan (died 866), founder of the Linji school of Chan Buddhism, it helped form the Rinzai sect of Zen in Japan.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jan 25, 2009
Buddhism: a religion for death
Japan is so successfully ecumenical, the various religions of Shinto, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam happily living side by side, that one is tempted to doubt Japanese belief in any of them.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jan 11, 2009
Blood, sweat and tears of Zen
Here is an unusually fine translation of a most unusual best-seller: the 1996 "Ku Neru Suwaru: Eiheiji Shugyoki," Kaoru Nonomura's account of the rigors and rewards of hard Zen training.

Longform

At the Akan International Crane Center, just north of the city of Kushiro proper, visitors can see the majestic red-crowned crane — a symbol of Hokkaido.
Faces of the north: A Hokkaido town grapples with depopulation