Thursday, 28 March 2013

Buddhist text's true author identified as Thai woman | Samanthi Dissanayake

Khunying Yai Damrongthammasan was
wealthy and extremely devout

A little-known Thai woman has been identified by researchers as the most likely author of an important Buddhist treatise, previously attributed to a high-profile monk.

Thammanuthamma-patipatti is a set of dialogues, supposedly between two prominent Thai monks last century.

It had been attributed to one of them - Venerable Luang Pu Mun Bhuridatta.

But scholars believe it was really by a female devotee, making her one of the first Thai women to write such a text.

Printed in five parts between 1932-1934, initially without a named author, Thammanuthamma-patipatti (Practice in perfect conformity with the Dhamma) is viewed in Thailand as a valuable and profound Buddhist text which deals with Buddhism's different stages of awakening.

Dr Martin Seeger from the University of Leeds believes he has traced the authorship of the text to one Khunying Yai Damrongthammasan - a wealthy and extremely devout woman who developed an impressive knowledge of Buddhist scriptures during her lifetime.

The Price We Paid: The Troubled History of Cambodian Literature

Cambodian literature is something of a unique creation, born from a tragic national history and a culture of oral storytelling. Vincent Wood explores the history of Cambodia's literature and the struggles faced by Khmer writers in the twentieth century.

“Historically, only a small portion of Cambodia’s population is literate and so large parts of the storytelling traditions of the country are oral and based in local folklore. These stories are heavily influenced by the predominant religions of Buddhism and Hinduism and also reflect the cultural influence of nearby India. The oldest such example is the Reamkera Cambodian version of the Indian epic Ramayana that is staged theatrically with dance alongside the verses.For most of Cambodia's history, written literature was, for the most part, restricted to the royal courts or Buddhist monasteries of the country.

In 1863 Cambodia became a protectorate of France, bringing new literary attitudes and technologies to the country; by 1908 the first book in Khmer was printed in Pnom Penh. This allowed a new flowering of Cambodian literature and by 1954 the Khmer Writers’ Association had been set up in order to promote writing, as well as introduce new themes and direction to literature.”

Monday, 18 March 2013

An audience with Tan Twan Eng, winner of this year's Man Asian Literary Prize | Kate Whitehead

“Tan Twan Eng knows all there is to know about Japanese gardens, can tell you all about Boer war postmarks, and he's even something of an expert on tattoos. It all went into his second novel, The Garden of the Evening Mists, which last week won the prestigious Man Asian Literary Prize. Not that the Malaysian lawyer turned author has much of a green thumb. In fact, he admits to having absolutely no interest in gardening. "One of the reasons it took so long to write the book was because I was very reluctant to write about gardening. I kept trying to think of ways to circumvent it."

But there was no way around it - the garden is central to the novel. It's a character in its own right, he says. And all the time he was trying to avoid writing about it, gardens were seeping into his life. "My friends in Cape Town constantly talk about their gardens or some flower, or they go to the west coast because the flowers are in bloom and you can see fields of them. So listening to them, I suppose I was influenced."

What was a KL city boy doing in Cape Town? It all started in 2004 when he decided to take what he calls a "gap year". But it was anything but a year of lolling around. He was an intellectual property specialist in a prestigious law firm but he was losing interest in the law and wanted an excuse to get away for a little while. His exit ticket was a master's degree at Cape Town University.”

The unfinished Maria | Gilda Cordero-Fernando

MARIA was patterned after Tingting’s daughter Liaa Cojuangco,
when she was a teenager. The artist had a crush on her and
clipped her photos from newspapers. Art by Antonio Mahilum
“Mariang Alimango is one of several Cinderella-type stories in Philippine literature. In the 1990s I wanted to make it into an illustrated children’s book in two languages, the Filipino part by Virgilio S. Almario, who has since become National Artist, and the English part by me.

I engaged a relatively unknown representational painter named Antonio Mahilum to do the illustrations, since I had seen his fantastic craftsmanship in a brochure. What he lacked in imagination, I thought cockily, I’d supply. The paintings were to be in oil, about 2 ½ x 2 ½ ft size canvases.

It had never been specified that Maria’s family was poor. Since GCF Books then was working on a “Philippine Ancestral Houses” book, I thought I’d give Maria a beautiful dwelling like the one we had photographed in Bustos, Bulacan.

Then I got more ambitious. I thought the book should also serve as a children’s primer on old houses. It would be useful also as a model for adult artists, who drew such awful bahay-na-bato as I often saw in weekend magazines.

Every object in Maria’s house was to be authentic to the period. Since Maria was treated like a servant, she had to be in the kitchen most of the time, so that, too, would be meticulously equipped.”

Future of Filipino ‘komiks’ still not within reach of ordinary readers

The team behind “The Lam-Ang Experiment”: (From left) Michael Layug, Eugene Cruz,
Michael Co,  Mac Ballesteros, and Michael Magpantay. Photo by August Dela Cruz
“The people of CreaM (Creative Media and Film Society of the Philippines) have created a comic book that could virtually spell the future of Philippine “komiks.”

The breakthrough was not exactly met with fanfare, though. A 56-second video clip showing frames from the graphic novel, titled “The Lam-Ang Experiment,” was posted on YouTube in January 2012 and has, so far, gotten only 1,796 views. CreaM then launched the three-volume book set on May 26 at the Summer Komikon comic convention in Pasig City, with comic book fans and collectors in attendance.

The quality of the illustrations are said to be world-class, matching the graphic novels from the United States and Japan in terms of color, paper, and artwork.

But mainstream society has not picked up on the “Lam-Ang Experiment” just yet. Not even if those responsible for its existence is a team of all-Filipino artists and head writer, the story is purely Filipino in origin, and the book produced entirely in the Philippines.”

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Filipina Maid of Cotton writes A Ballad of Stone and Wind” | Edu Jarque

“Anna Maria “Bambi” Lammoglia Harper was born to write Agueda: A Ballad of Stone and Wind, the historical novel that traces the turbulent transitional era of Philippine history, from 1898 to 1935, as seen through a young girl’s life and the events that shaped both her and her country.

The 251-page narrative believably re-imagines the past of the decadent colonial Manila of our grandparents and great-grandparents, of its people grappling with changes brought about by a new master.

Agueda, despite the cruel hardships of her life, possesses enough intelligence and adaptability, like all conquered people, not just to survive but to triumph. It is easy to become attached to the whimsical child of the opening chapters and to feel sympathy and even empathy with her as an adult caught in the world where Filipinos were second-class citizens and women mere chattels.

It opens with a Manila that had Intramuros at its center and Binondo its commercial hub. While it romanticizes the city with a pristine Pasig River and seeks to continue to mythologize Intramuros, the story, nevertheless, depicts the hypocrisy, decadence and corruption of a dying era.

Bambi, as the author is also known, is a student of history and tradition, heritage and custom, arts and culture and more important, a Filipino who has intense passion for all these. Manila lives in her veins.”

What's Next for Man Asian Winner Tan Twan Eng? (Video)

“Malaysian author Tan Twan Eng was awarded the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize for his novel 'The Garden of Evening Mists.' He spoke earlier with the WSJ's Brittany Hite about the book, set during the aftermath of the Japanese occupation of Malaya, and what he is planning next.”

From: The Wall Street Journal

Articles on Tan Twan Eng on this site