About WaterBridge Review
WaterBridge Review was established in 2004 as an accompaniment to the Kiriyama Prize. It offered interviews and conversations with winners and finalists of the Prize, as well as with other voices concerning literature from or about the Pacific Rim and South Asia. WaterBridge Review also offered book reviews, especially of the Prize winners and finalists, and highlighted in Around the Rim new and upcoming titles concerning the region. In the archive presented here, covering the years 2004 to 2008, you will be able to leaf through these texts. Our gratitude goes to all who participated in WaterBridge Review.
We invite you to go the two sections of our PaperTigers: Books + Water site. The PaperTigers website and blog section of the site, with its focus on children’s literature in English from around the world, can be reached by going to www.papertigers.org.
The WaterBridge Outreach section of the site, with our book projects and clean water and sanitation projects, can be reached by going to www.waterbridgeoutreach.org.
Soldier Reading a Book by JoAnn S. Makinano (US Dept of Defense, April 2007)
In This Issue of WaterBridge Review
In this issue, WaterBridge Review catches up with nine Kiriyama Book Prize winners and finalists, who discuss what they are doing now as well as their views on the many new literary voices that have emerged in and around the Pacific Rim in the last ten years. We also bring you two interviews, one with Jane Camens, executive director of the Asia-Pacific Writing Partnership, and the other with Tan Twan Eng, author of the much-praised debut novel Gift of Rain. And as always, book reviews and other news of recent and forthcoming books from and about the Asia Pacific region.
Bringing Tony Home
A friend of mine recommended this book because she knew of my affinity for Proust. Tissa Abeysekara shares that poetic digression into nostalgia, the lingering description of a taste or a sound, and the endearing affection for mother. The attention to sensation is similar, even though we follow Abeysekara's narrator through late twentieth-century Sri Lanka, not turn-of-the-century France, and the flavor that remains is not a saturated madeleine but the metallic taste of water tinged with sardines.
The Gift of Rain
In the Tao Te Ching, Lau Tzu extols the virtue of water and its willingness to dwell in low places that people disdain. Philip, the narrator of Tan Twen Eng's novel, is born with this same virtue. His fluidity is his success, though it is also the cause of deep suffering in the lives of his family and community. As the fortuneteller warned him, "rain also brings the flood." This is Eng's ambitious first novel, addressing duty, control and the complicated nature of fate on the painful backdrop of World War II.
For author Ma Jian, the history of modern Beijing really begins with the dark days of the Tiananmen Square massacre, which has its anniversary in June. Exiled writer Jian, whose other well-known works include The Noodlemaker and Red Dust, begins his story with narrator Dai Wei. Dai Wei, a science student at Beijing University, is shot in the head during the fateful crackdown and falls into a coma for ten years. It is from this comatose perspective that the reader is carried through the events leading up to the massacre as well as through the ensuing, dramatic changes made in Beijing in the decade following.
Tree of Smoke
Opening in 1963, and taking us year by year through America's engagement with Southeast Asia until 1970, Tree of Smoke sets out to clarify, if such a thing is possible, the morass of the Vietnam War. The novel succeeds brilliantly, and is a work of devastating, tragic, artistic vision. In Denis Johnson's Vietnam, the enemy is everywhere and deep within, allegiances are knotted to a stranglehold, and the entire region is a "fallen world" from which no redemption, besides those offered by myth, is possible.
The Eaves of Heaven:
The story of Vietnam, its cycles of war and dismemberment, has been exhaustively chronicled by historians and memoirists, novelists and playwrights, poets and film makers, Americans and Vietnamese. Eaves of Heaven is, however, something completely original. Written in the restrained yet powerful voice of his own father, Andrew Pham weaves a brilliant tapestry of vignettes, which skip back and forth across time in a shuffled chronology, telling the story of his father, his family dynasty, and his country.
Catching up with previous Kiriyama Prize winners and finalists
Take a look at Around the Rim, which highlights new and upcoming titles, including:
Here at the End of the World We Learn to Dance by Lloyd Jones (Dial)
Happy Families by Carlos Fuentes, translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman (Random House)
Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth by Xiaolu Guo (Doubleday/Talese)
Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire by David Mura (Coffee House Press)
Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux (Houghton Mifflin)
Exodus/Exodo by Charles Bowden and Julián Cardona (University of Texas Press)
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami, translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel (Knopf)
Marrying Anita by Anita Jain (Penguin Books India, Bloomsbury UK)
The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine by Somaly Mam (Spiegel & Grau)