Annal: 1997 Kiriyama Prize for Fiction or Nonfiction

Results of the Kiriyama Prize in the year 1997.

Book:Japan: A Reinterpretation

Japan: A Reinterpretation

Patrick Smith

In 1868, Japan abruptly transformed itself from a feudal society into a modern industrial state. In 1945, the Japanese switched just as swiftly from imperialism and emperor-worship to a democracy. Today, argues Patrick Smith, Japan is in the midst of equally sudden and important change.

In this award-winning book, Smith offers a groundbreaking framework for understanding the Japan of the next millennium. This time, Smith asserts, Japan’s transformation is one of consciousness—a reconception by the Japanese of their country and themselves. Drawing on the voices of Japanese artists, educators, leaders, and ordinary citizens, Smith reveals a “hidden history” that challenges the West’s focus on Japan as a successfully modernized country. And it is through this unacknowledged history that he shows why the Japanese live in a dysfunctional system that marginalizes women, dissidents, and indigenous peoples; why…[more]

Book:The Cambridge History of the Pacific Islanders

The Cambridge History of the Pacific Islanders

Donald Denoon, Malama Meleisea, Stewart Firth, Jocelyn Linnekin, Karen Nero

The Pacific Islands can be seen to be linked by commerce, Christianity, colonialism, world wars and the nuclear experience. Equally, they can be seen as isolated societies, and have often been represented as such by Western explorers and anthropologists. Both interpretations carry weight, as societies struggle separately to preserve or regain autonomy or band together in regional associations.

The Cambridge History of the Pacific Islanders addresses these irresolvable and recurring tensions, and encompasses the entire range of human experience in the region.

Book:Chinese Opera

Chinese Opera: Images and Stories

Wang-Ngai Siu, Peter Lovrick

Chinese Opera looks at Chinese society through an exciting series of photographs of operatic performances from many regions of the country. The book introduces the reader to this unique theatrical form and tells the traditional stories that are its narrative foundation.

Siu Wang-Ngai’s extraordinary images, taken in existing light during performances, lovingly reveal the visual excitement of Chinese opera and point to the differences in costuming and presentation that distinguish each regional style and character type. Through Peter Lovrick’s engaging text, Chinese Opera provides a brief anecdotal history of the development of Chinese opera and introduces a language of theatrical convention entirely new to the Westerner. It also identifies the hallmarks of the dozen or so regional opera styles found in this collection. As well, the book arranges the stories in a rough chain of being, from…[more]

Book:Korea's Place in the Sun

Korea's Place in the Sun: A Modern History

Bruce Cumings

In his “immensely illuminating and accessible history” (Kirkus Reviews), Bruce Cumings delivers a memorable narrative of Korea’s fractured modern history. Beginning with an overview of the cultural and political traditions of this accomplished civilization, Cumings dwells on Korea’s long twentieth century, a period of colonial exploitation by Japan, war, and national division. His chapters on the Korean War show clearly just how close the world came to a nuclear holocaust. He then explores the economic resurgence and political turmoil that keep Korea in the headlines. Finally, he traces the significance of the Korean migration to the United States.

Book:Monkey Bridge

Monkey Bridge: A Novel

Lan Cao

For the first time in fiction, the unmapped territory of the Vietnamese immigrant experience is examined in this tale of a young girl’s coming-of-age in the United States in the aftermath of war.

Mai Nguyen’s journey begins when she leaves Vietnam in February 1975, just before the withdrawal of American troops from Saigon. She enters the world of Falls Church, Virginia, a “Little Saigon” community that encompasses refugees and veterans, reinvented lives and entrepreneurial schemes, secrets and lies about a war-torn and conflicted past, and Mai’s dreams for a newly minted American future. But the secrets, and what is both hidden and revealed in diaries found buried in her mother’s dresser drawer, pull Mai inexorably back to Vietnam. Within these diaries, Mai retraces not only her own earliest experiences, but also her mother’s and grandmother’s histories—and the story that began to unfold a generation past in the rice fields of the Mekong…[more]

Book:The River at the Center of the World

The River at the Center of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze, and Back in Chinese Time

Simon Winchester

Rising in the Mountains of the Tibetan Border, the River That many regard as the symbolic heart of China pierces 3,900 miles of rugged country before debouching into the oily swells of the East China Sea. Connecting China’s heartland cities with the volatile coastal giant Shanghai, the Yangtze has also historically connected China to the outside world through its nearly one thousand miles of navigable waters. To travel the vast extent of the river is to travel back in history, to sense the soul of China, and this Simon Winchester does, taking us along with him as he encounters the very essence of China—its history and politics, its geography, climate, and culture, and above all its people, many of them in remote and almost inaccessible places. This is travel writing at its best: lively, informative, and thoroughly engaging.

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