Paul Yamazaki’s September Picks

To quote blogger Mr. Micawbers:

Paul Yamazaki has been the chief buyer (at City Lights) since 1984 and has worked at City Lights for a decade longer. This might embarrass him, but it’s true to note that his name is often spoken in a whisper as a sign of respect by other booksellers.”

 

 

The Hanging on Union Square
H.T. Tsiang. Foreword by Floyd Cheung
(Kaya Press)

Originally self-published in 1935, H.T. Tsiang’s hallucinatory, quasi-experimental novel Hanging on Union Square explores leftist politics in Depression-era New York–an era of union busting and food lines–in an ambitious style that brilliantly blends Gertrude Stein’s playful language with the political satire of Carl Sandberg’s prose fables. It follows the peripatetic musings of a young man throughout a single day that takes him from a worker’s cafeteria to a world of dinner clubs and sexual exploitation in the highest echelons of society, and back again to the streets of Greenwich Village, where starving families rub shoulders with the recently evicted. Each chapter comprises a single hour of the day. Tsiang’s style combines satirical allegory with snatches of poetry, newspaper quotations, non-sequiturs and slogans, as well as elements of classical and contemporary Chinese literature. Adventurous and unclassifiable in its combination of avant-garde and proletarian concerns, Hanging on Union Square is a major rediscovery of a uniquely American voice.

Poet, playwright, and novelist. Hsi Tseng Tsiang (H.T. Tsiang) was born in China in 1899 and came to America as a child. He was involved with the Greenwich Village literary scene in the 1920s and 1930s, and self-published a number of books which he would hawk at downtown political meetings. Tsiang also appeared as an actor in Hollywood, most notably in the film Tokyo Rose.

He died in 1971 in Los Angeles, CA.

 

The Polish Boxer
Eduardo Halfon
(Bellevue Literary Press)

The Polish Boxer covers a vast landscape of human experience while enfolding a search for origins: a grandson tries to make sense of his Polish grandfather’s past and the story behind his numbered tattoo; a Serbian classical pianist longs for his forbidden heritage; a Mayan poet is torn between his studies and filial obligations; a striking young Israeli woman seeks answers in Central America; a university professor yearns for knowledge that he can’t find in books and discovers something unexpected at a Mark Twain conference. Across his encounters with each of them, the narrator—a Guatemalan literature professor and writer named Eduardo Halfon—pursues his most enigmatic subject: himself.

Eduardo Halfon has been cited as among the best young Latin American writers by the Hay Festival of Bogotá and is the recipient of Spain’s prestigious José María de Pereda Prize for the Short Novel. In 2011 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship to continue the story of The Polish Boxer, which is his first novel to be published in English. He travels frequently to his native Guatemala and lives in Nebraska.

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