It’s the time of the year when people start thinking about vacation, and many turn to the Far East in search of exotic adventures. Let’s have a look at 10 gems from our catalog by Asian authors.
Tigers were probably present at the 금수회의록 (Assembly of Animals) that was called in to criticise and judge mankind. Author Ahn Guk-seon, born in 1878, served in the Korean military for about 20 years, and one cannot help wondering whether he got his inspiration there…
His childhood in India at the turn of the 20th century certainly served as inspiration for Dhan Gopal Mukerji. Born in a small village near Calcutta, he eventually left for the US where he became a writer to sustain himself. Kari the Elephant was one of the children’s books for which he received the Newbery Medal.
Another Indian prize winner – the 1913 Nobelprize – is poet and writer Rabindranath Tagore. The Bard of Bengal was virtually unknown outside his country for a long time, and he wrote his first work in English when he was 50 years old: My Reminiscences.
Cao Xueqin had a long heritage to look back upon. His ancestors had been high officials at court, but had fallen from grace so he had to live in poverty himself. A similar chain of events involving the Chia family is described in The Dream of the Red Chamber, one of China’s Four Great Classical Novels.
More classic than this are only The Nō Plays of Japan, a collection of plays from various authors. They date back to the 14th century and are still performed today in the exact same manner and the exact same language as then, making them almost impossible to understand even for a Japanese audience.
Equally hard to comprehend must have been the concept of Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule. The book by Gandhi is a dialogue between him and the reader to convince the typical countryman of the idea. It was written in Gujarati (and immediately banned) and then translated into English by Gandhi himself, probably the only author on this list who does not need an introduction.
No introduction can be given for Pura L. Medrano, since we do not know anything about this author. However, Nang Bata Pa Kami was written by her (or him?), the story of the secret courtship of two lovers, told from the viewpoints of both. Who knows, there may even be a happy ending in this story from the Philippines.
坊っちゃん (Botchan) does have a happy ending of some sorts. It tells the story of a young teacher on his first assignment at a middle school and is still widely read today. Written by Sōseki Natsume, considered the foremost writer of the Meiji period, if not of Japanese history, it is one of his three best known novels. We also have it in English.
Another teacher, who later became a government employee, was Xun Lu. Born in 1881, he is considered the leading figure of modern Chinese literature. Here, we present 热风 (Hot Wind), a collection of essays and commentaries on China and the Chinese, which redefined the definition of “essay” in Chinese literature.
As we started, so will we end: with animals. Renowned as the Nightingale of Shiraz, Saadi was a major poet of medieval Persia. He was very famous at his time already and has even been quoted in western sources. “Gulistan” is considered among his greatest works, and it is contained in our recording of The Poetry of Sadi.
Enjoy finding new Asian authors in our catalog!