Annal: 1999 Kiriyama Prize for Nonfiction

Results of the Kiriyama Prize in the year 1999.

Book:Catfish and Mandala

Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam

Andrew X. Pham

Catfish and Mandala is the story of an American odyssey—a solo bicycle voyage around the Pacific Rim to Vietnam—made by a young Vietnamese-American man in pursuit of both his adopted homeland and his forsaken fatherland.

Andrew X. Pham was born in Vietnam and raised in California. His father had been a POW of the Vietcong; his family came to America as “boat people.” Following the suicide of his sister, Pham quit his job, sold all of his possessions, and embarked on a year-long bicycle journey that took him through the Mexican desert, around a thousand-mile loop from Narita to Kyoto in Japan; and, after five months and 2,357 miles, to Saigon, where he finds “nothing familiar in the bombed-out darkness.” In Vietnam, he’s taken for Japanese or Korean by his countrymen, except, of course, by his relatives, who doubt that as a Vietnamese he has the stamina to complete his journey (“Only Westerners can do it”); and in the United States he’s considered anything but…[more]

Book:Embracing Defeat

Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II

John W. Dower

The first definitive history of the transformation of Japanese society under American occupation after World War II. This major new work by America’s foremost historian of modern Japan draws on a vast range of Japanese sources to offer an extraordinarily thorough, complex, and rich analysis of how shattering defeat in World War II followed by over six years of military occupation by the United States affected every level of Japanese society-in ways that neither the victor nor the vanquished could anticipate. Here is the history of an extraordinary moment in the history of Japanese culture, when new values warred with old, and when early ideals of “peace and democracy” were soon challenged by the “reverse course” decision to incorporate Japan into the cold-war Pax Americana. Embracing Defeat chronicles not only the material and psychological impact of utter defeat but also the early emergence of dynamic countercultures that gave primacy to the private as opposed to public spheres-in short, a liberation from totalitarian wartime control. John Dower shows how the tangled legacies of this intense, turbulent, and unprecedented interplay of conqueror and conquered, West and East, wrought the utterly foreign and strangely familiar Japan of today.

Book:The Mummies of Ürümchi

The Mummies of Ürümchi

Elizabeth Wayland Barber

In the museums of Urumchi, the wind-swept regional capital of the Uyghur Autonomous Region in Western China, a collection of ancient mummies date back as far as 4,000 years—contemporary to the famous Egyptian mummies, but even more beautifully preserved, especially their clothing. Surprisingly, these prehistoric people are not Asian but Caucasoid—tall and large-nosed and blond with thick beards and round eyes (probably blue). What were these blond Caucasians doing in the heart of Asia? Where did they come from and what language did they speak? Might they be related to a “lost tribe” of Indo-Europeans known from later inscriptions? Few gifts are to be found in the graves of Urumchi, making it difficult for archaeologists to pinpoint cultural connections from clues offered by pottery and tools. But their clothes—woolens that rarely survive more than a few centuries—have been preserved as brightly hued as the day they were woven. …[more]


Riska: Memories of a Dayak Girlhood

Riska Orpa Sari, Linda Spalding

Books by Western specialists have compiled many observations and facts about the “headhunters of Borneo,” but the culture has never before been described from the inside, by an indigenous person born and reared in the rain forest listening to the stories and legends of her tribe. In this vivid memoir, Riska Orpa Sari tells us about the remote village of her birth, where rice is cultivated by cutting and burning the rain forest, where hunting and gathering take place under its dark canopy. She describes courtship and marriage, funeral rites, the sound headhunters make before they strike, the impact of the logging industry on the Dayak way of life, and the centrality of the river to all aspects of daily living. As Riska’s marvelous story unfolds, a witty, intelligent personality is revealed, endearing, resilient, and dedicated to the preservation of her people.

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