Friday, June 12, 2009

Yay! We've done it!

Above is Kaya Press' very first book trailer, created by the very talented Sam Arbizo.

We know that there's no evidence in favor or against the effectiveness of book trailers. We also know they're very trendy. But we saw here an opportunity to ... uh ... further the art form ;) ... and also just to have a little fun with some footage Sam shot during Brian Castro's US author tour in May.

This is by way of an experiment, and we'd love to get your feedback on it. We happen to think it's pretty cool, of course, but we could be biased.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Is Courtney Love A Secret Brian Castro Fan?

Why yes, that is Courtney Love leaving Book Soup in Los Angeles ... last Monday ...

It seems that Courtney was getting her book on. Lots of books, in fact. So many, that she managed to crash Brian Castro's Book Soup reading, distracting Brian and the audience by carrying armfuls (or armsful?) of books past Brian's lectern, repeatedly. Brian himself, not a grunge fan, only saw "a blonde in a prom dress."


Thursday, April 30, 2009

New LA Tour Date for Brian Castro!

Angelenos: we're very excited to add one more tour date for Brian Castro! (And I really think this will be it, because we don't have any more free dates!)

Brian will be appearing with Colin Dickey at Betalevel in Los Angeles Chinatown (how appropriate!) on May 6.

Once again:
WHERE: Betalevel, 963 N. Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA
WHEN: Weds, May 6; 8 PM
WHAT: Reading with Brian Castro, Colin Dickey, and TBA

And New Yorkers shouldn't forget that Brian's appearing at AAWW tonight!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Kaya's Events This Week!

Hey boys and girls! This week kicks off Kaya's long-anticipated (by us, anyway) US author tours for both Brian Castro and Kazuo Hara. (See the links for complete tour dates and information.)

We can't believe it, but Brian is already here (in NY) and Hara will be here (in Berkeley) this weekend! So here's a quick 'n' dirty run-down of the events you can see on both coasts this week:


BRIAN CASTRO in New York at New York University's A/P/A Institute
This will be Brian's first ever appearance on American soil! He'll be appearing solo and giving a slideshow presentation about his book, SHANGHAI DANCING. His other appearance in the Tri-State area will be shared with other authors, so this is your chance to really delve into his work and find out what one of Australia's premier authors is about.


BRIAN CASTRO in New York at the Asian American Writers Workshop
This is going to be entirely awesome. The event is about welcoming Brian into the family of Kaya authors, in the context of AAWW's Asian American literary scene. The party features wine, chocolate, candlelight, and readings by Thad Rutkowski, Eric Gamalinda, and Ishle Yi Park (who is hosting.) And, of course, Brian Castro.


BRIAN CASTRO in San Francisco at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
This will be another wonderful event, in the YBCA museum in the afternoon. Brian will be appearing with Kaya author Sesshu Foster, who is promoting his latest book from City Lights, WORLD BALL NOTEBOOK. They'll be doing a reading and then will have a moderated discussion with each other, followed by audience Q & A. You can also take in the wonderful exhibitions while you're there, and talk to the authors at an early dinner/reception at 5 in the Yerba Buena Gardens. RSVP for the dinner at kayapress at the domain of yahoo.

KAZUO HARA in Berkeley at Pacific Film Archive
This is going to be a fantastic, two-day event in Berkeley sponsored by the Center for Japanese Studies. The first day, Saturday, will see a screening of two of Hara's films, appearances by Kazuo Hara and his producer Sachiko Kobayashi, and a booksigning of CAMERA OBTRUSA. The following day will bring a mini-conference on the topic of Hara's films (but I'll detail that more next week!)
If you can't make any of these, don't despair: there's more coming next week! Including some Southern California appearances for both. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

SHANGHAI DANCING Release Around the Corner!

Hi everyone!

We're working very hard to make the SHANGHAI DANCING and CAMERA OBTRUSA author tours a beautiful thing. We can't believe Brian Castro will be here within the week, and Kazuo Hara next week!

Anyway, the lovely news today is that SHANGHAI DANCING just shipped to us today! We can't wait to have the actual book in our hands, and we hope and expect you will love it, too!

New Yorkers: Brian Castro's first event in NY will be on April 29 at NYU.
Yay Areans: Brian will first appear in SF on May 2 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
Angelenos: Brian will appear in LA first on May 4 at Book Soup.

Please check out Brian's tour dates for a complete listing of events!

Monday, March 30, 2009


Who are you?
Publicly I am a writer and an academic with something different to offer. I’m an Asian-Australian writer who was born in Hong Kong and who has lived in Australia for over 45 years. My father was Portuguese and my mother Eurasian. My grandmother on my mother’s side was born in Liverpool. My father’s people came from Portugal and Holland.

Australia is just as globalised as the rest of the developed world, but there isn’t the critical mass here that is necessary for minorities to sometimes make themselves heard. Personally I feel less anxiety than I used to. Anti-Asian movements in the past have been disturbing, but hopefully Australians have put that behind them.

What do you write?
My books take in the whole sweep of multicultural Australia without pushing any particular issue, and they place language, literature and irony at the forefront of their endeavour. I feel I am better able to speak than most by standing at the confluence of three cultures, being enriched by them without being compromised; seeing the humour in their assumptions; triangulating a moment of history without being one-eyed. My mission has been to write the best prose possible so that aesthetics, the creative construction of style and form, can all be appreciated by the reader. It’s not the message, but how it’s delivered.

What is the novel Shanghai Dancing?
Shanghai Dancing was an opportunity to fictionalise lives that were familiar to me. I was not interested in telling people this was ‘true’ so much as creating a psychological truth which they have to discover. I used bits of my family’s lives, but mainly I used the whole spectrum of literature. Shanghai is also Joyce’s Dublin. My father was also a character out of Stendhal or Hemingway. Antonio the narrator is the portrait of an artist as a young man. I've been influenced by Beckett and Sebald, Bernhard and Proust. These are my masters and they formulate my dreams. And that’s all I can do: lay my dreams at the reader’s feet.

Where did the idea for Shanghai Dancing originate?
The book arose out of the realization that my family’s lives were really quite extraordinary. To have gone through huge wealth and then terrible tragedy, to have lived in slums and prison camps, these things made them interesting. The book challenged me to look at memory and its recall in different ways. It affected my view of my parents. It gave me hope when the despair of writing led me to depression and to thoughts of suicide. Hyperbole is a great friend in the writing of lives.

Why did you include archival photographs in the book?
The photos are not illustrative. They have a narrative of their own. People always believe photos. They think there is ‘truth’ there. But in this book, this is put into doubt. The photos are images which have captured a dead moment which may be related to the narrative but may not be either. It is the story which weaves a life behind the images. It is the fiction which resurrects a dead moment. In the same way, memory weaves a story. Memory works in a fragmented fashion. Each time something is recalled there is a little change or embellishment or difference in mood. Memory takes a photo each time it functions. That photo-process is never stable.

What does Shanghai Dancing have to offer an American audience?
Perhaps Americans should know China better, since China is the future. I think also the colonial history of Britain in China is important. I came out of this miscegenation between colonials and Chinese, so I understand it a lot more than those who simply want to make ideological points on cultural grounds. A novel is probably the best vehicle for this kind of ambiguous reflection, which takes in loyalties, disloyalties, moods and resonances. The Shanghai in the 20s and 30s will never come again.

What do you want to tell your readers?
I guess I'm saying readers have to read better. Just reading a story is not good enough. Just getting a message across is not good enough. But having an experience is another thing. I'm saying: experience the flavours of a time which will never return. Experience life writ large.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

About Hara Kazuo's Films

We just got tipped off to this terrific article from 2007 in the Village Voice by Ed Halter about Hara Kazuo's films.
Kazuo Hara's The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On (1987) nonetheless stands as one of the most harrowing, astonishing documentaries about war ever thrown onto celluloid. It reveals a side of Japan little seen by American audiences: the repressed culture of an older generation, still struggling with the demons unleashed by the atrocities of World War II, souls broken beyond repair.

... Imagine the setup of Roger and Me with the payoff of Winter Soldier, or a version of Shoah in which the director walks around with a sidekick who bitch-slaps wartime memories out of the more reticent interviewees.
Check it out!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Thaddeus Rutkowski's Appearances

Kaya is pleased to announce that Thaddeus Rutkowski, whose novel ROUGHHOUSE Kaya published in 1999, will be appearing in the Bay Area in April:
  • Saturday, April 4: 7 PM
  • Eastwind Books of Berkeley
    2066 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA.

  • Tuesday, April 7: 1:30 PM
  • Center for Literary Arts
    1 Washington Square, San Jose State, San Jose, CA
    Hal Todd Theatre in Hugh Gillis Hall

  • Saturday, April 18: 3 PM
    Brewer Bookstore
    St. Lawrence University, 92 Park Street, Canton, N.Y.
    With Pedro Ponce
  • Saturday, May 16: 5 PM
    510 Readings series
    Minas Gallery
    815 West 36th Street, Hampden, Baltimore
  • Sunday, June 7: 5:30 PM
    Bengal Curry restaurant, 65 West Broadway, Manhattan
    Co-feature with Tommy Fernandez. Hosted by George Spencer. Donation
  • Sunday, June 28: 6 PM
    Co-curating Many Mountains Moving reading
    Cornelia Street Café
    29 Cornelia St., Manhattan. $6
  • Thursday, August 20: 7 PM
    “Drunken Careening Writers"
    KGB Bar, 85 E. Fourth St., Manhattan
    With Cheryl B. Hosted by Kathleen Warnock

Hara Kazuo's US Tour Dates

We are excited to announce the following US appearances for Hara Kazuo in support of his new book CAMERA OBTRUSA: THE ACTION DOCUMENTARIES OF HARA KAZUO:
  • May 6, Riverside, CA
    UC Riverside
  • May 8, Princeton, NJ
    Princeton University

Thursday, February 26, 2009

About Hara Kazuo

Born in 1945, Hara Kazuo was influenced as a young man by the protest movements that took place throughout Japan and the world in the late 1960s and 70s. He founded Shisso Productions in 1971 with his wife, producer, and primary collaborator Sachiko Kobayashi. He has published five documentary films thus far, including the award-winning The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On, widely recognized as the most important and influential documentary ever made in Japan, Goodbye CP, A Dedicated Life, Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974, and Watashi no Mishima.

Please note: Hara Kazuo's family name is Hara, given name is Kazuo. Kaya uses the Japanese naming convention in putting his family name first. Following the European convention would reverse the name to Kazuo Hara.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Brian Castro's US Tour Dates

We're thrilled to have confirmed the following US appearances for Brian Castro in support of his US debut with SHANGHAI DANCING:
  • May 6, Los Angeles (Chinatown)
    8 PM, Betalevel, 963 N. Hill Street
    FREE, reading with Colin Dickey

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I couldn't forget the bloodthirsty look in Okuzaki’s eyes when he asked me to film him killing his former company commander. Despite all the time I’d spent with him, I had never acknowledged the fact that Kenzo Okuzaki was a convicted criminal – even after hearing him repeat his resume of murder, violence, and pornography. I had secretly wished, someday, to film a crime documentary in real time. In fact, that’s exactly what I was filming. If my goal was to capture Kenzo Okuzaki, the criminal, this film wouldn’t work without the scene of Okuzaki’s crime. In for a penny, in for a pound.
Few filmmakers have found themselves in quite such a quandary as Hara Kazuo during the filming of the award-winning The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On. But it wasn't by chance that this seminal documentarian stumbled into an extreme example of the journalist's dilemma.Throughout the four decades of his career, Hara Kazuo has perused the bizarre and disturbing margins of Japanese society, certain that central truths are to be found in fringe phenomena. His method of documentation, which he calls "action documentary," pursues the shocking effect of the action film, following the gesture and staying in the moment – not commenting in voiceover from a safe distance.

Hara's innovations have transformed documentary filmmaking, and contributed directly to the current ascendance of the documentary, both within the industry and among audiences internationally. His best-known disciple is Michael Moore, who lists Hara as one of his favorite directors.

In CAMERA OBTRUSA: HARA KAZUO'S ACTION DOCUMENTARIES Kaya Press offers the first English-language book on Hara's life and method, by the master himself. Hara writes this memoir-cum-handbook in easy, conversational language, telling his own story of coming to the documentary form, using his camera to challenge society's expectations, and breaking down the boundary between subject and object.

Digging into the practical elements of his craft, the author describes each of his groundbreaking films in detail, and includes a special extended chapter on
The Emperor’s Naked Army featuring the complete text of production notes he wrote about the film and its subsequent notoriety.

CAMERA OBTRUSA will be launched with a May 2, 2009 screening of the
The Emperor's Naked Army at UC Berkeley. Hara Kazuo will appear in person. The launch will also feature an academic mini-conference with scholars from major universities in attendance.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sex and Time: More on Brian Castro

Here's a video (on YouTube) of Brian speaking about his novel, THE GARDEN BOOK (which followed SHANGHAI DANCING) on a show called "The Wordshed." You'll have to watch it to understand the title of this post!

And here's a blogger's ambivalent, but insightful, response to SHANGHAI DANCING.

Most interestingly, a book on Brian just came out last November from Cambria Press.

Monday, January 26, 2009

About Brian Castro

Brian Castro was born in 1950 in Hong Kong of Portuguese, Chinese and English parentage and was sent to a boarding school in Australia in 1961. After earning his Master's degree in American Literature at the University of Sydney, he worked in Australia, France and Hong Kong as a teacher and writer, and for several years, was the literary reviewer for Asiaweek magazine.

His first novel Birds Of Passage (1983) shared the Australian/Vogel literary award and has been translated into French and Chinese. This was followed by Pomeroy (1990; German translation Klett Cotta 1998); Double-Wolf (1991), which won a number of national prizes including the Age Fiction Prize and two Victorian Premier's Literary Awards; and subsequently After China (1992), which again won the Victorian Premier's Literary Award and was published in France (Editions de l'Aube) in 2003. His fifth novel, Drift, was published in 1994 and his sixth, Stepper (1997), was awarded the 1997 National Book Council 'Banjo' Prize for Fiction, appearing in German in 1999.

In 2003 Giramondo published his 'fictional autobiography,' Shanghai Dancing, which won the Vance Palmer Prize at the 2003 Victorian Premier's Awards, the Christina Stead Prize at the 2004 NSW Premier’s Awards and was named the NSW Premier’s Book of the Year. His recent novel, The Garden Book, was published by Giramondo in 2005. It was short-listed for the Miles Franklin Award and it won the 2006 Queensland Premier’s Award for Fiction. The Bath Fugues will be published in June 2009.

He was a Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne and is currently the Chair of Creative Writing at the University of Adelaide.

Brian Castro's website.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Winner, Victorian Premier’s Award for Fiction
Winner, Christina Stead Fiction Prize, NSW Premier’s Award
Winner, NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Book of the Year

Shanghai Dancing =
  • naval slang for syphilis
  • the attainment of disorientation and instability
  • the United States premiere of award-winning Australian writer Brian Castro
After forty years in Australia, middle-aged Arnaldo Castro packs a bag and walks out of his old life forever. The victim of a restlessness and rootlessness he calls “Shanghai Dancing,” Arnaldo seeks to understand the source of his condition in his family's wanderings. Reversing his parents’ migration to Australia, Arnaldo heads back to their native Shanghai, where his world begins to fragment. Glittering prewar China, evangelical Liverpool, and 17th century Portugal fight for space with contemporary scenes of Asia and Europe. The stories of long-dead ancestors compete for primacy with those of new family, friends, and lovers.

Combining photographs and written images, author Brian Castro's fictional autobiography asks if life’s meaning is to be found in the moment or the memory. The winner of some of Australia’s top literary prizes, Shanghai Dancing has been praised by its judges as “a work of major significance [that] challenges our expectations of storytelling ... It is impressive as history, as fiction, as a book which stretches the literary form and which speaks to the universality of the human experience.” Kaya Press is thrilled to bring the work of one of Australia’s most acclaimed literary talents to the United States for the first time.

“Brian Castro plays with past and present in this complex, teasing, polyrhythmic, carnivalesque dance through phantom Shanghai.” — J.M. Coetzee

“[A] marvellous mingling of fiction, memoir and travel of the best Australian books – or books from anywhere if it comes to that – I’ve read for a
long time” — Sydney Morning Herald

“[A]n extraordinary polyglot mix of sources: Portuguese, Chinese, English, Jewish and Catholic, and a mysterious recessive black gene.... told in Castro’s characteristically baroque prose, dense with its passion for language and serious wordplay.” — The Age

Kaya's Board of Directors

Sachin Adarkar
Yoonmee Chang
Ken Chen
Huy Hong
Adria Imada
Kirby Kim
Juliana S. Koo
Sunyoung Lee
Bryan Ong
Mayumi Takada

Friday, January 2, 2009


translated by Shogo Oketani and Leza Lowitz

Winner, Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature by the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture at Columbia University

Ayakawa Nobuo was born in Tokyo in 1920 between an influenza epidemic and a major earthquake. He died in Tokyo in 1985 while playing Super Mario Brothers. His poems… are strange, awkward, desperate, forceful, wild, and moving in these scrupulous, long-awaited English translations. You might read Ayukawa to see what war did to him. You might read him because he’s a major poet whose work, still gathering force behind him, speaks directly to Americans in this dismal, blood-spattered moment of our own history.
— Forrest Gander
AMERICA & OTHER POEMS by Japanese modernist poet Nobuo Ayukawa marks the first time this seminal work has been translated into a single volume in English. This landmark selection spans three decades from 1947-1976, ranging from Ayukawa's early work about his war experience on the front lines to later poems in which the influence of Western culture on Japanese society can be clearly felt. His lyrical, complex poetry offers a rare perspective on the modern Asian war experience from an ordinary soldier's point of view, and a unique window into the complex post-war relationship between Japan and America. This award-winning translation also features an essay by Ayukawa on his poem “America,” as well as essays contextualizing Ayukawa and his work by Shogo Oketani.

About the Author
Nobuo Ayukawa was born in Tokyo in 1920 and is considered the “pilot” of modern Japanese poetry. He was one of the founding poets of the Arechi (Wasteland) group, and translated the work of T.S. Eliot and later, William Burroughs, into Japanese. Ayukawa was drawn to Eliot after encountering "The Wasteland" when it was first translated into Japanese in the 1930s, and the Arechi poets bore witness to the disillusionment of post-war Japan in a new language inspired by Modernism.

Stylistically, Ayukawa rejected traditional Japanese poetic concerns of recording the movements of nature or exploring purely emotional themes. Instead, he mined his past experiences as a soldier in World War II and paid homage to his literary influences in abstract, lyrical modernist works that collaged remembered conversations among friends with literary quotations taken (and in some cases, reworked) from Mann, Eliot, Kafka, Pound and others. He also made it his mission to keep the war experience alive while fostering a national debate about war responsibility in his poetry and criticism.

In addition to being a much-admired poet and translator, Ayukawa was a well-respected literary and social critic. He published over a dozen books of poetry, essays and literary criticism. He died in Tokyo in 1986.

About the Translators
Shogo Oketani is a freelance translator, poet, and fiction writer who has worked in the high-tech field and taught translation at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. With Lowitz, he received a fellowship in translation from the NEA, and the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature by the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture at Columbia University. Oketani has also translated the fiction of Sakaguchi Ango for Manoa. His own fiction has appeared in Kyoto Journal and Wingspan, among others. In addition to writing and translating, Oketani is a martial artist who teaches courses on Self-Defense.

Leza Lowitz is an award-winning writer and editor who has published over a dozen books on Japan, including Other Side River, a groundbreaking anthology of contemporary Japanese women’s poetry, and Yoga Poems: Lines to Unfold By. She has received an Independent Scholar fellowship from the NEH, and, together with Oketani, a fellowship in translation from the NEA and the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize. Her fiction and poetry have received the PEN Fiction Award, the PEN Josephine Miles Award, and many others.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Lisa Chen's MOUTH

MOUTH, Lisa Chen’s debut collection of poetry, gives voice to things that occur below the level of hearing or just beyond our notice: fragments of translated stories, unanswered bits of conversations, the mute assertiveness of a room. In language filled with humor, insight, and hallucinatory wit, Chen uses fables, instructions, poems carved in the loneliness of Angel Island barracks, medical reports, classified ads and reality shows to reach out to “a visitor from the country of you/where I didn’t speak the language.” These are poems to delight in and roll around on your tongue. They are at once a record of and a song for the discarded, overlooked, and unheeded speech that takes place in between the words we manage to speak but that rarely say what we want.
“This book is wild, playful, gorgeous, weird, often hip. Reading it, I kept thinking, I wish I had come up with this phrase, this line, that entire poem, and that one, and that one, and that one...”
— Linh Dinh, author of Jam Alerts
Lisa Chen was born in Taipei, Taiwan. She earned a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MFA from the University of Iowa. Her work has been published in Hanging Loose, ZZYZVA, Prairie Schooner, and Threepenny Review. She lives in New York and works as a media and communications consultant for progressive organizations and campaigns.