A vividly realized tribute to one of Northern California’s most revered cultural neighborhoods.


A guided tour through the oldest Chinatown district in North America.

Journalist Leong teams up with San Francisco–based photographer Evans in this energetic production spotlighting San Francisco’s Chinatown, a beloved tourist destination attracting more foot traffic than the Golden Gate Bridge. Leong sets the stage: “For the uninitiated, strains of high-pitched music, odd smells, and the myriad of Asian dialects can be overwhelming. For others, the cacophony is thrilling. There’s no doubt that entering San Francisco’s Chinatown is like visiting a foreign country, except that this one is less than a fifth of a square mile.” In three sections, the book covers the tourism industry, the daily life of the Chinese locals, and the spectacular celebrations and cultural festivals in observance of time-honored holidays throughout the year. Leong, an American-born Chinese woman and San Francisco native, generously shares the area’s expansive history, from its beginnings as Tong Yun Fow to a cultural epicenter embracing numerous progressive changes. In the section honoring traditional celebrations, lion dancers from a Chinese New Year parade and Autumn Moon Festival performers leap off the page. Many of the images feature the neighborhood’s classically vibrant hues, including the reds of the lanterns swinging high above the streets, the burgundy cherry blossoms in Portsmouth Square, the culturally significant golden monuments and sculptures, and the expressive faces of the street musicians, vendors, and shop owners lining the narrow, busy sidewalks. The book also reflects the diverse range of ages and heritages of the residents, who have helped to foster the Chinatown experience visitors have come to appreciate. As in his previous photo books about the Bay Area, Evans ably captures the essence of the city and its inhabitants. Impressively pairing striking imagery with an informative historical narrative, the book transports readers right into the heart of Chinatown’s thriving streets, festivals, local flavor, and cultural intensity.

A vividly realized tribute to one of Northern California’s most revered cultural neighborhoods.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59714-520-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Heyday

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.



The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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