Dec 10, 2008    #114
Contact: Laura Byerley

New short fiction book explores globalization in imaginary Asian countryUMKC’s BkMk Press releases “Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales” on Dec. 15

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) BkMk Press announces the Dec. 15 release of “Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales,” by Eleanor Bluestein, winner of the G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction.

“In the tradition of Robert Olen Butler and Bob Shacochis,” writes Marly Swick, O. Henry Award winner and final judge for the prize, “Bluestein is a writer who illuminates our cultural differences, while exploring the intricacies of the human condition.” Publishers Weekly writes, “Bluestein brings a versatile, captivating voice to her debut story collection set in the fictional Asian country of Ayama Na.” Booklist calls Bluestein “a writer to watch.”

The tales of Bluestein’s book unfold as the small South Asian country of Ayama Na recovers from war and prepares for its inevitable Westernization. The people are captivated by toy robot dogs, McDonald’s and a beauty queen named Song Li; a Toyota dealer named Koriatt dreams of running for parliament and wiping out corruption, but faces more obstacles than he anticipated; a fortune teller steps up to her destiny after condemning a client to his fate; rude American tourists want to see the real Ayama Na; and a one-legged, red-headed prostitute befriends a crazed American artist. Bluestein’s Ayama Na may be a fictional place, but the characters, their struggles, their cruelty and their hearts are authentic.

“Even in Cambodia, where the insane Pol Pot had systematically eliminated the country’s artists and intellectuals, there was this incredible resourcefulness and drive,” Bluestein said. “The incredible desire of people to flourish regardless of circumstances stimulated me to imagine their inner lives. Ayama Na is what I imagined.”

“These Ayama Na tales are sly, sensuous and sagacious – profoundly funny and profoundly serious,” said Al Christman, author of “Target Hiroshima.”

Born in Massachusetts, Bluestein has lived in New York, Washington, D.C. and Paris. Today, she resides in La Jolla, Calif. In addition to writing, she edits K-12 textbooks and has spent 13 years co-editing a magazine called Crawl Out Your Window. “Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales” is Bluestein’s first book.

Founded in 1971, BkMk Press became part of UMKC in 1983. Financial assistance for BkMk Press is provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; UMKC; and private donations. The G. S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction is named after a distinguished writer and faculty member at the University of Missouri-Kansas City who died in 2000.

For more information about this book, please contact BkMk Press at (816) 235-2558 or “Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales” (ISBN 978-1-886157-64-4) is 234 pages in trade paper, and the retail price is $16.95.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Celebrating 75 years, UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience.


This information is available to people with speech or hearing impairments by calling Relay Missouri at (800) 735-2966 (TT) or (800) 735-2466 (voice)


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