Recasting Red Culture turns a critical eye on the influential proletarian cultural movement that flourished in 1920s and 1930s Japan. This was a diverse, cosmopolitan, and highly contested moment in Japanese history when notions of political egalitarianism were being translated into cultural practices specific to the Japanese experience. Both a political and historiographical intervention, the book offers a fascinating account of the passions—and antinomies—that animated one of the most admirable intellectual and cultural movements of Japan’s twentieth century, and argues that proletarian literature, cultural workers, and institutions fundamentally enrich our understanding of Japanese culture.
Weaving over a dozen translated fairytales, poems, and short stories into his narrative, Samuel Perry offers a fundamentally new approach to studying revolutionary culture. By examining the margins of the proletarian cultural movement, Perry effectively redefines its center as he closely reads and historicizes proletarian children’s culture, avant-garde “wall fiction,” and a literature that bears witness to Japan’s fraught relationship with its Korean colony. Along the way, he shows how proletarian culture opened up new critical spaces in the intersections of class, popular culture, childhood, gender, and ethnicity.
2014 | 248 pages | 12 illustrations
ISBN: 978-0-8248-3893-5 | $49.00s | Cloth
Chang-rae Lee’s Native Speaker, Kerri Sakamoto’s The Electrical Field, Don Lee’s Country of Origin, Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Susan Choi’s A Person of Interest. These and a host of other Asian North American detection and mystery titles were published between 1995 and 2010. Together they reference more than a decade of Asian North America monitoring that includes internment, campaign financing, espionage, and post-9/11 surveillance. Monica Chiu reveals how Asian North American novels’ fascination with mystery, detection, spying, and surveillance is a literary response to anxieties over race.
Scrutinized! is broadly about oversight and insight. The race policing of the past has been subsumed under post-racism—an oversight based on a persistent visual construction of race. Readers revisit Oriental visions, or Asian stereotypes, and then encounter official documentation on major events, such as the Japanese American and Japanese Canadian internment. The former visions, which endure, and the latter documents, diplomatically forgotten, shape how Asian subjects were and are scrutinized and to what effect. They determine which surveillance images remain emblazoned in a nation’s collective memory and which face political burial.
2014 | 208 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8248-3842-3 | $45.00s | Cloth
Intersections: Asian and Pacific American Transcultural Studies
On Sunday, October 27, at 3 pm, all-volunteer independent Revolution Books (Honolulu) will host a reading by Gary Pak for his new book, Brothers under a Same Sky. Here’s the store’s perspective on the book:
This is a fascinating novel about the psychological toll on Korean Americans during and after the Korean War and the ethical and moral decisions they were forced to make. Those of you who know Gary Pak, know that in this novel he’s speaking very personally. Perhaps the dedication “in the memory of Uncle Kenam” says it all. While the book directly relates to the Korean War, it is especially fitting that this reading will take place near the 12th anniversary of the U.S. war on Afghanistan – a war where hundreds of thousands of young men and women had to make similar decisions as those Nam Ki faced.
As part of the celebration to mark the 110th anniversary of the first Korean immigration to Hawai‘i, four Hawai‘i-based Korean American writers will read and discuss their work on Thursday, September 26, 7:00 p.m., at the Center for Korean Studies, UH Mānoa. Presenters with UH Press books include novelist Gary Pak (Brothers under a Same Sky; A Ricepaper Airplane; Children of a Fireland) and documentarian Roberta Chang (The Koreans in Hawai‘i: A Pictorial History; When the Korean World in Hawaii Was Young). The other two participants are award-winning author Chris McKinney and poet/fiction writer Brenda Kwon.
The event is free and open to the public. For more information, see the CKS announcement, or call the Center at (808) 956-7041.
Related link: Listen to the Hawai‘i Public Radio interview with Gary Pak about his most recent book, Brothers under a Same Sky.
Online newsmagazine The Hawaii Independent has partnered with Box Jelly to present a new event series called Quotes, “evening[s] of smart conversation and great company.” For the inaugural Quotes on Wednesday, August 28, 6:30 p.m., the modern Korean and Korean-American experience will be explored with UH-Mānoa English professor Gary Pak, who will present his new novel, Brothers under a Same Sky. He will be joined by Annie Koh, UHM PhD candidate in urban & regional planning, who will contribute additional commentary and discussion.
Sign up here or at the door. Read an excerpt from the book posted earlier on Hawaii Independent. Books will be available for purchase and signing.
A 29th-century dystopian society seen through the eyes of a mutant-cum-romantic poet; a post-impressionist landscape of orbs and cubes experienced by a wandering underdog; an imaginary sick room generated entirely from sounds reaching the ears of an invalid: These and other haunting re-presentations of time and space constitute the Japanese modernist landscape depicted in Three-Dimensional Reading: Stories of Time and Space in Japanese Modernist Fiction, 1911-1932, edited by Angela Yiu.
“This book makes an important contribution to our understanding of Japanese modernism. The translations, each with a helpful and thought-provoking introduction, have been skillfully chosen to offer fresh insights on canonical writers or contribute to our understanding of lesser-known authors. All of the stories are interesting, and several are truly remarkable. I highly recommend the volume for both Asian and comparative literature programs.” —William Gardner, Swarthmore College
July 2013 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3801-0 / $25.00 (PAPER)
The Indonesian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer made a distinction between a “downstream” literary reality and an “upstream” historical reality. Pramoedya suggested that literature has an effect on the upstream flow of history and that it can in fact change history. In Situated Testimonies: Dread and Enchantment in an Indonesian Literary Archive, Laurie J. Sears illuminates this process by considering a selection of Dutch Indies and Indonesian literary works that span the twentieth century and beyond and by showing how authors like Louis Couperus and Maria Dermoût help retell and remodel history.
“This is a remarkable book in the way it attempts to tease out and crash through the barriers of self-restricting and self-restraining area studies. Situated Testimonies poses a challenge to Indonesianists as well as to many beyond the field. It is an adventure embarked upon with the help of Freud, Lacan, and other friends and foes. Sears demonstrates both the benefits and tribulations of such an endeavor. At its best, her book attains an impressive simplicity as it uncovers a sense of the world in both its subjects—the colonial and postcolonial literary figures—and its author as she thinks and writes about them.” —Rudolf Mrazek, University of Michigan
June 2013 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3683-2 / $57.00 (CLOTH)
Lu Xun (1881–1936), arguably twentieth-century China’s greatest writer, is commonly cast in the mold of a radical iconoclast who vehemently rejected traditional culture. The contradictions and ambivalence so central to his writings, however, are often overlooked. Challenging conventional depictions, Literary Remains: Death, Trauma, and Lu Xun’s Refusal to Mourn, by Eileen J. Cheng, captures Lu Xun’s disenchantment with modernity and his transformative engagements with traditional literary conventions in his “modern” experimental works. Lurking behind the ambiguity at the heart of his writings are larger questions on the effects of cultural exchange, accommodation, and transformation that Lu Xun grappled with as a writer: How can a culture estranged from its vanishing traditions come to terms with its past? How can a culture, severed from its roots and alienated from the foreign conventions it appropriates, conceptualize its own present and future?
“Eileen Cheng’s study explores Lu Xun’s complex interaction with the past through sophisticated and nuanced analyses of a large corpus of his writings. With its solid textual scholarship and original and illuminating interpretations, her work constitutes an important contribution to Lu Xun studies.” —Kirk Denton, Ohio State University
April 2013 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3595-8 / $54.00 (CLOTH)
The UH Press Asian Studies 2013 catalog is now available! The catalog has been redesigned to showcase our new and forthcoming Asian studies titles. (All books published prior to late 2012 and currently in print can be found at our website.) To view the PDF, click on the catalog cover image to the left.
* An illustrated anthology of well-known masterpieces and unusual writing from 18th-century Edo’s counterculture — An Edo Anthology: Literature from Japan’s Mega-City, 1750–1850
*Four new titles in the Spatial Habitus series — The Hermit’s Hut: Asceticism and Architecutre in India, China’s Contested Capital: Architecture, Ritual, and Response in Nanjing, Architecture and Urbanism in Modern Korea, and Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China
* Short fiction from Japan’s foremost Marxist writer, Kobayashi Takiji, including a new translation of an anticapitalist classic that became a runaway bestseller in Japan in 2008, nearly eight decades after its publication — The Crab Cannery Ship and Other Novels of Struggle
* A timely collection of essays exploring Japan’s role in global environmental transformation and how Japanese ideas have shaped bodies and landscapes over the centuries — Japan at Nature’s Edge: The Environmental Context of a Global Power
* An expansive new study on the varied roles Southeast Asia’s monumental remains (Angkor, Pagan, Borobudur, and Ayutthaya, among others) have played in the histories of its modern nations — A Heritage of Ruins: The Ancient Sites of Southeast Asia and Their Conservation
* Close description and analysis of the history, geographical whereabouts, and doctrinal positions of early schools of Buddhism by André Bareau, one of the foremost scholars of Buddhism of his generation — The Buddhist Schools of the Small Vehicle
* Two volumes in the new series Korean Classics Library — Salvation through Dissent: Tonghak Heterodoxy and Early Modern Korea and Imperatives of Culture: Selected Essays on Korean History, Literature, and Society
During the eighteenth century, Edo (today’s Tokyo) became the world’s largest city, quickly surpassing London and Paris. Its rapidly expanding population and flourishing economy encouraged the development of a thriving popular culture. Innovative and ambitious young authors and artists soon began to look beyond the established categories of poetry, drama, and prose, banding together to invent completely new literary forms that focused on the fun and charm of Edo. Their writings were sometimes witty, wild, and bawdy, and other times sensitive, wise, and polished. Now some of these high spirited works, celebrating the rapid changes, extraordinary events, and scandalous news of the day, have been collected in An Edo Anthology: Literature from Japan’s Mega-City, 1750–1850, edited by Sumie Jones, with Kenji Watanabe, an accessible volume highlighting the city life of Edo.
“Anyone who wishes to soak up the atmosphere of Japanese urban life in those marvellous years before Edo became Tokyo need look no further than this anthology. Designed around six thematic categories, the book leads us right to the heart of the colorful, the earthy, the comic, the scabrous world of what in the mid-eighteenth century was in all likelihood the largest city in the world. A special strength of this collection is its successful attempt to capture one of the most remarkable aspects of popular literature of the time: the visual excitement of the woodblock printed page. A superb teaching resource that puts Edo within reach of the classroom.” —Richard Bowring, Professor Emeritus, University of Cambridge
ISBN 978-0-8248-3629-0 / $70.00 (CLOTH)
ISBN 978-0-8248-3740-2 / $30.00 (PAPER)
Rewriting Medieval Japanese Women: Politics, Personality, and Literary Production in the Life of Nun Abutsu, by Christina Laffin, explores the world of thirteenth-century Japan through the life of a prolific noblewoman known as Nun Abutsu (1225–1283). Abutsu crossed gender and genre barriers by writing the first career guide for Japanese noblewomen, the first female-authored poetry treatise, and the first poetic travelogue by a woman—all despite the increasingly limited social mobility for women during the Kamakura era (1185–1336). Capitalizing on her literary talent and political prowess, Abutsu rose from middling origins and single-motherhood to a prestigious marriage and membership in an esteemed literary lineage.
“Laffin draws on an impressive array of primary and secondary sources in Japanese and English to create the most comprehensive picture we have to date of a remarkable woman who has been written out of the standard narratives of Japanese social, political, and literary history. This book makes an important contribution to our understanding of the role of women in the complex interplay of power, poetry, and politics in medieval Japan.” —Rajyashree Pandey, Goldsmiths, University of London
January 2013 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3565-1 / $49.00 (CLOTH)
This collection, translated by Zeljko Cipris, introduces the work of Japan’s foremost Marxist writer, Kobayashi Takiji (1903–1933), to an English-speaking audience, providing access to a vibrant, dramatic, politically engaged side of Japanese literature that is seldom seen outside Japan. The volume presents a new translation of Takiji’s fiercely anticapitalist Kani kosen—a classic that became a runaway bestseller in Japan in 2008, nearly eight decades after its 1929 publication. It also offers the first-ever translations of Yasuko and Life of a Party Member, two outstanding works that unforgettably explore both the costs and fulfillments of revolutionary activism for men and women. The book features a comprehensive introduction by Komori Yoichi, a prominent Takiji scholar and professor of Japanese literature at Tokyo University.
“A miracle happened in the world of Japanese letters in 2008: an eighty-year-old masterwork of Japanese proletarian literature appeared on best-seller lists. Embraced and reviled in its own day, dismissed and forgotten once revolution was declared both impossible and unnecessary, Kobayashi Takiji’s The Crab Cannery Ship, reborn here in zeljko Cipris’s fresh translation, stirred in Japanese a forgotten hunger for a literature that answers to bleak times with an incandescent anger and life-giving solidarity. This volume, which includes two novels never before translated, Yasuko and the Life of a Party Member, gives us a trio of works that speak to readers with prescient urgency.” —Norma Field, Robert S. Ingersoll Distinguished Service Professor Emerita of Japanese Studies, University of Chicago
January 2013 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3742-6 / $25.00 (PAPER)