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.