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

SAN FRANCISCO'S CHINATOWN

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 concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

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ON JUNETEENTH

The Harvard historian and Texas native demonstrates what the holiday means to her and to the rest of the nation.

Initially celebrated primarily by Black Texans, Juneteenth refers to June 19, 1865, when a Union general arrived in Galveston to proclaim the end of slavery with the defeat of the Confederacy. If only history were that simple. In her latest, Gordon-Reed, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and numerous other honors, describes how Whites raged and committed violence against celebratory Blacks as racism in Texas and across the country continued to spread through segregation, Jim Crow laws, and separate-but-equal rationalizations. As Gordon-Reed amply shows in this smooth combination of memoir, essay, and history, such racism is by no means a thing of the past, even as Juneteenth has come to be celebrated by all of Texas and throughout the U.S. The Galveston announcement, notes the author, came well after the Emancipation Proclamation but before the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Though Gordon-Reed writes fondly of her native state, especially the strong familial ties and sense of community, she acknowledges her challenges as a woman of color in a state where “the image of Texas has a gender and a race: “Texas is a White man.” The author astutely explores “what that means for everyone who lives in Texas and is not a White man.” With all of its diversity and geographic expanse, Texas also has a singular history—as part of Mexico, as its own republic from 1836 to 1846, and as a place that “has connections to people of African descent that go back centuries.” All of this provides context for the uniqueness of this historical moment, which Gordon-Reed explores with her characteristic rigor and insight.

A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-883-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

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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