The Red Pearl and Other Stories is an invitation from an idiosyncratic but endearing bunch of misfits and outsiders to travel to emotional sites just beyond our GPS coordinates.
Welcome to Kuala Lumpur, Paris, Namche Bazaar – but also to unnamed, weirdly recognizable spaces of desire, anxiety or nightmare. Here, race riots unfold in 1960s Malaysia; an ‘Asian’ student faces ‘Go home’ graffiti on incessant train rides around Sydney; dogs in love twirl and tumble in the high mountains of Nepal. Here, too, is the parallel Gothic world of the Shanghai Bar, where an Orientalist seductress bites back; and the concrete world of expatriate Kuala Lumpur where Dragon Princes and spirit travellers can also be found.
Here is a vision of Sydney at its mythical best: golden, shaded in jacaranda blossoms and offering benevolent asylum to an array of newcomers and old hands. Moving between genres and cultures, the stories in this collection capture moments of intensity and yearning, points of turbulence or rest in the lives of characters who inhabit a globalised world. Their quest is for new arrangements of family, home, friendship and workplaces; new ways of living and loving in a rapidly changing world.
The Red Pearl and Other Stories is award-winning novelist Beth Yahp’s first collection of short stories.
About the Author
Beth Yahp is an award-winning author, editor and creative-writing teacher of adults and children. She has published short fiction and travel and memoir feature articles in Australia, South-East Asia and Europe. Her novel The Crocodile Fury is translated into several languages and her libretto, Moon Spirit Feasting, for composer Liza Lim, won the APRA Award for Best Classical Composition in 2003.
"Beth Yahp is one of the finest contemporary writers and an important voice from the Asia-Pacific region. She is a rich and accomplished stylist--something unusual in Australian writing--an enticing storyteller and a deft conjurer of marvellous complex worlds, part real, part remembered or imagined. Yahp's settings range widely--Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, Paris--as do her characters, whose stories reach far back in time as the protagonists in successive generations traverse extraordinary personal and social change. They are travellers, writers, lovers, sailors, ancestors, young women stepping out into the world and remaking themselves, often under pressure and in the face of societal hostility. Like the sailor in 'The Red Pearl', this author is 'voluptuous with the stories in [her] head'. In this collection she shares those stories with the reader, with a high degree of art, innovation and witty, passionate critique. She has an exceptional capacity for revealing observation and detail. Publication of Beth Yahp's stories in book form in the ideal context of Vagabond Press promises to introduce her to a new generation of readers, many of them young people who are themselves experiencing the issues of identity, dislocation and divided belonging that the author explores." - Nicholas Jose
Reviews of Beth's memoir Eat first, talk later out from Penguin Random House 2015:
"Remember the promising young Sydney writer who in 1993 produced a spirit-haunted story of three generations of women in Malaya, Malaysia and Australia? What became of her? Beth Yahp went walkabout, reappearing occasionally in short fiction, journalism, editing, broadcasting, and opera libretto; teaching, travelling in south-east Asia and living in Europe. Now, surely too young to write a memoir, she's back with a full-length book, yet still excavating the generation gap. Sharpened by her travels, her wit perforates the hot air balloons of history and politics in Australia and Malaysia. Promoted as a foodie, travel, family book, this is a cut above them [... filled with] many meals Yahp lovingly describes. Family histories fascinate if they are about people you know or would like to, and whose voices you can hear, as with Yahp's. [... Her] sentimental journey with her ageing parents meets neither her expectations, nor theirs, nor those of readers hoping for a foodie travelogue. What she is really seeking is more complex: her place as a citizen of the multiracial world, a chosen companion, and their chosen country." - Alison Broinowski, Sydney Morning Herald
"This sprawling memoir is a bit of a buffet - a huge array, beautifully dished up. You wander back and forth through the simultaneous storylines: Yahp's own life and lovers, her parents' enduring relationship, life on the Malay Peninsula since WWII and the development of the modern state. Yahp has lived and worked in Malaysia, Paris and Sydney, but can't seem to define her home, although she wants to follow her tastebuds. The best course is when she dishes up some home truths about our northern neighbour, on corruption and the public peace that is achieved through repression of individuals and information. The contrast with the careless freedoms of Australian society are enough to make you feel queasy."