Book Reviews

REVIEW— Basagan ng Trip: Complaints About Philippine Culture and Politics

Basagan ng Trip makes theorizing and “discourse” chic. In the Preface, Lisandro E. Claudio notes that “Walang basagan ng trip” mirrors an “anti-critic tradition in Philippine arts” (p. ix). Through this lens, the Filipino psyche encourages creation and discourages criticism as this ruins the vibe of the imaginative process that produces something new. [...]

REVIEW— Mata Hati Kita, The Eyes of Our Hearts

Mata Hati Kita, The Eyes of Our HeartsCompiled by: Angela M. Kuga Thas and Jac SM Kee Petaling Jaya: Gerakbudaya Enterprise, 2016, 142 pages The recent widespread impression that religion, especially Islam, is to blame for the policing of sexuality in Malaysia is associated with the fact that two trends, Islamization and increasingly tightened regulation of bodies, have obviously been running [...]

REVIEW— Muhammadiyah Jawa

Muhammadiyah JawaAuthor: Ahmad Najib BurhaniYogyakarta: Suara Muhammadiyah, 2016. 184 pages   A Muslim organization in Javanese culture Muhammadiyah Jawa is an important work written on historical development of Muhammadiyah, an Islamic organization established in 1912. It is written by Najib Burhani – himself is a prominent young Muslim intellectual, based on his Master thesis submitted [...]

REVIEW— 从文化视角看大湄公河次区域合作《评大湄公河次区域五国文化发展的体制机制研究》

从文化视角看大湄公河次区域合作《评大湄公河次区域五国文化发展的体制机制研究》 (Viewing GMS Economic Cooperation from Cultural Horizon: Review on Study on Mechanism of Cultural Development of 5 Countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region) 王士录 (Shilu Wang) Publisher: Yunnan Publishing Group and Yunnan People’s Publishing House, 2011 As there has been an [...]

Review: Corridor (12 short stories)

Corridor (12 short stories)Alfian Sa’atSingapore: Ethos Books, 2015 (second edition) “Behind these fantastic stories however, was the faint hope that somehow, I had found someone who shared something in common with me.” (“Duel” in Corridor 68) In his collection of short stories, Corridor (first published in 1999), Singaporean writer Alfian Sa’at 1 captures his characters’ hopes and [...]

REVIEW: Ang Makina ni Mang Turing

Guillermo, Ramon. 2013. Ang Makina ni Mang Turing [Mr. Turing’s Machine]Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press. The narrator of scholar-activist Ramon Guillermo’s rousing first novel Ang Makina ni Mang Turing is a nineteenth-century “ilustrado” (enlightened, educated), a young man from the Philippines, then a colony of Spain. Having recently completed his licentiate in law in [...]

REVIEW: Rueng Lao Mueng Tai: Pholawat Khong Mueng Chai Dan Thai Phama

 Niti Pawakapan. เรื่องเล่าเมืองไต: พลวัตของเมืองชายแดนไทย-พม่า Rueng Lao Mueng Tai: Pholawat Khong Mueng Chai Dan Thai Phama (Story of Tai Town: Dynamics of the Town within Borderline between Thailand and Myanmar)Chiang Mai: Center for ASEAN Studies, 2015. From 1991 to 1993, Niti Pawakapan, a well-known [...]

REVIEW: The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye

Liew, Sonny. The Art of Charlie Chan Hock ChyeSingapore: Epigram Books, 2015 The Singapore graphic novel, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye (Epigram Books, 2015), written and drawn by Sonny Liew, was reported in the news recently. Firstly, it was picked up by Pantheon Books for publication in the US and UK for 2016, the first Singapore graphic novel to have its rights bought by a major Western [...]

REVIEW: Vân Đồn – Thương cảng quốc tế của Việt Nam

Nguyen Van Kim, Vân Đồn – Thương cảng quốc tế của Việt Nam (Van Don: The International Commercial Port of Vietnam) Hanoi: Vietnam National University Press, 2014. 450 pages + index, reference Over the past few years, sea and island issues have become a common concern for Vietnam, neighboring countries and all over the world. A good number of programs, research projects, [...]

REVIEW: Ilusi Demokrasi Lokal: Refleksi Gerakan Antikorupsi Organisasi Masyarakat Sipil

Pandu Wicaksono, (eds.). Ilusi Demokrasi Lokal: Refleksi Gerakan Antikorupsi Organisasi Masyarakat Sipil(Illusion of Local Democracy: Reflections on the Anti-Corruption Movement of Civil Society Organizations) Malang: Intrans Publishing and Malang Corruption Watch, 2014. 138pp. Local Corruption, Local Resistance: a Glimpse of Story from Indonesia Following the resignation of president [...]

Did Goethe read comics?

Comics were not around during the life-time of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, but as a prolific writer who sketched all his life, he would have loved them. The Goethe-Institut with its idea of discovering cultural trends and supporting emerging artists, realised the rising importance of comics as an art since 1990. Today, comic exhibitions and blogs, comic artists in residence, international [...]

Review— Paradox of Democratization: The deep Structure of Asian Politics from the Indonesian Case

Jun Honna, Paradox of Democratization: The deep structure of Asian politics from Indonesian caseTokyo: Iwanami Shoten. 2013Original title in Japanese: 民主化のパラドックスーインドネシアにみるアジア政治の深層Reviewed by Akiko Morishita The book begins with Honna’s real experience during his fieldwork when he interviewed a lawyer on local political corruption in [...]

Book Review: 中国南传佛教研究 (Theravāda Buddhism in China)

Title:  中国南传佛教研究  (Theravāda Buddhism in China)Author:  郑篠筠 (Xiaoyun Zheng)Beijing: China Social Sciences Press (2012) Xiaoyun Zheng’s Theravāda Buddhism in China fills the academic gap on important issues of Theravāda Buddhism, one of the essential branches of Buddhism. Based on long-term field study, this well-researched book explores the dynamics, doctrine, [...]

Book Review. Era Emas Hubungan Indonesia-Korea: Pertukaran Kultural Melalui Investasi dan Migrasi

인도네시아 속의 한국, 한국 속의 인도네시아 – 투자와 이주를 통한 문화 교류(Korea in Indonesia, Indonesia in Korea – Cultural Exchange Through Investment and Migration) By 전제성(Jesong Jeon), 유완또 (Yuwanto)Seoul: Imagine, 2013 Era Emas Hubungan Indonesia-Korea: Pertukaran Kultural Melalui Investasi dan MigrasiJesong Jeon and YuwantoJakarta: Penerbit buku [...]

Onward or Return: Asylum Seekers in Indonesia

During the last decade, Indonesia has become a favored transit point for transiting asylum seekers. Largely from war-torn areas such as Afghanistan and Iraq, these asylum seekers have utilized Indonesia’s geographical proximity and its institutional loopholes as a means to seek entry into Australia. Others escaped ethnic conflicts in Sri Lanka and Myanmar. Despite being a signatory to the 1951 [...]

Book Review: Muzika: Malaya’s Early Music Scene, 1900-1965

Muzika: Malaya’s Early Music Scene, 1900-1965. Azlan Mohamed Said, edited by Juffri Supa’at. Singapore: Stamford Printing, 2013. 256 pages. While flipping through his late father’s personal photo album, Azlan Mohamed Said was intrigued to see copious photographs of Malay musicians, both famous and unknown, from the 1940s to 1960s. Azlan’s father, Mohamad Said Abdul Rahman, also known as [...]

Tar Tei Sa Nay Thar (A child born on Saturday)

Tar Tei Sa Nay Thar (A child born on Saturday)Nga Doe Sar Pay (Yangon, Myanmar), 2012. The book is the autobiography of U Nu, a leading nationalist and political figure in 20th century Myanmar, and was originally written in 1969. It was first published in English in USA and India during 1969-1980, and in 1975, it was published in Burmese in India by Irrawaddy Publishing. It finally made print in [...]

REVIEW: Myanma no Kuni to Tami, Nichimen Hikaku Sonraku Syakairon no Kokoromi

 Myanma no Kuni to Tami: Nichimen Hikaku Sonraku Syakairon no Kokoromi  (『ミャンマーの国と民―日緬比較村落社会論の試み―』)(State and People in Myanmar: A Comparative Study of Rural Societies in Japan and Myanmar)By Akio Takahashi. Tokyo: Akashi Shoten, 2012 This book focuses on rural society in Myanmar. While the new government of Myanmar has attracted public [...]

REVIEW: King Bhumibol Adulyadej, A Life’s Work: Thailand’s Monarchy in Perspective

Nicholas Grossman and Dominic Faulder (eds.). 2011.King Bhumibol Adulyadej, A Life’s Work: Thailand’s Monarchy in Perspective.Singapore: Editions Didier Millet. 383 pages. In 2008, when it had become impossible for any credible journalist to ignore the entanglement of the palace in Thailand’s unfolding tragedy, I wrote an analysis on Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej for Reuters. A [...]

REVIEW: Lungsod iskwater. Evolution of Informality as a Pattern in Philippine Cities

Alcazaren, Paulo, Luis Ferrer, and Benvenuto Icamina. 2011.Lungsod iskwater: The Evolution of Informality  as  a  Dominant  Pattern  in  Philippine Cities.Pasig City: Anvil. Lungsod iskwater (Squatter City) is a book that seems to be full of self-contradictions. Its readers are likely to be confounded by the apparent incongruities in and between its form and content. However, far from [...]

REVIEW: Hunger in Nayawak and Other Stories

Hope Sabanpan-Yu (editor). 2012.Hunger in Nayawak and Other Stories.University of San Carlos Press and Cebuano Studies Center. 256 pages Humanism in Lamberto G. Ceballos’ short stories …Ang maikling kuwento ay sining, at ang sining – ang mataas na uri ng sining – ay higit sa paggagad sa panlabas na anyo ng realidad….Ito ay simbolikong representasyon ng realidad. ..The [...]

REVIEW: Gone Case, A Graphic Novel

Gone Case, A Graphic NovelStory by Dave Chua. Art by Koh Hong Teng. Edited by Joyce Sim.Singapore. Book 1 (2010), Book 2 (2011) Popular culture provides a way for us to understand Southeast Asia and comics gives that insight into the experience of living in this region. Malaysia’s Lat is a classic example. His Kampong Boy, Town Boy and Mat Som are snapshots of what it is like growing up in a [...]

Review: An Uncommon Hero. M.K. Rajakumarin Politics and Medicine

 An Uncommon Hero: M.K. Rajakumarin Politics and Medicine Tan Pek Leng (editor). Petaling Jaya: Strategic Information and Research Development Centre, 2011, pp. 451. The use of repressive laws to suppress contenders for power in Malaya/Malaysia and Singapore is well documented. Such work contradicts official histories rationalising abuses of state power as timely interventions to pre-empt [...]

REVIEW: The Fate of Rural Hell. Asceticism and Desire in Buddhist Thailand.

The Fate of Rural Hell: Asceticism and Desire in Buddhist Thailand. Benedict Anderson.  Calcutta: Seagull books. 2012. 99 pp. Classical studies of Thai rural society often begin at a wat. From an anthropological perspective, the wat, or Buddhist temple, has been—and still is—not only a fundamental institution of rural people’s spiritual and material life, but also a reflexive space [...]

G30S 1965, Perang Dingin & Kehancuran Nasionalisme: Pemikiran Cina Jelata Korban Orba

Tan Swie Ling . 2010.G30S 1965, Perang Dingin & Kehancuran Nasionalisme: Pemikiran Cina Jelata Korban Orba[30 September 1965, the Cold War and the destruction of Nationalism: Thoughts of an ordinary Chinese as a victim of the New Order]. Depok: Komunitas Bambu bekerja sama dengan Lembaga Kajian Sinergi Indonesia, 2010   Reading Tan Swie Ling’s book is a challenge. From its title, readers [...]

REVIEW: Perang Dingin & Kehancuran Nasionalisme: Pemikiran Cina Jelata Korban Orba

Tan Swie Ling . 2010.G30S 1965, Perang Dingin & Kehancuran Nasionalisme: Pemikiran Cina Jelata Korban OrbaDepok: Komunitas Bambu bekerja sama dengan Lembaga Kajian Sinergi Indonesia, 2010  Membaca buku karangan Tan Swie Ling ini merupakan sebuah tantangan. Dari judulnya saja, pembaca bisa mengintip topik yang yang selalu kontroversial. Juga, tebalnya yang hampir 600 halaman, bikin pembaca [...]

REVIEW: Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata [Amapola in 65 Chapters]

 Lee, Ricky. 2011. Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata[Amapola in 65 Chapters]Quezon City, Philippines: Philippine Writers Studio Foundation, Inc. 364+ pp.   Amapola, the protagonist of distinguished playwright and screenwriter Ricky Lee’s novel, is a female impersonator who discovers that s/he is also a manananggal, the fabled viscera-sucker of Philippine myth and lore.  With her pliant tongue, [...]
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