Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Persona - A 1966 Film Directed by Ingmar Bergman- - 1 Hour 24 Minutes

 Available on YouTube with English Captions

Persona was to me very challenging experience, both in trying to put together a coherent understanding of the vision of Bergman and some of the elements of the film. I was initially perplexed by the opening sequence until I read the review referenced above by Robert Ebert.

Persona, starring Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann, revolves around a young nurse named Alma (Andersson) and her patient, well-known stage actress Elisabet Vogler (Ullmann), who has suddenly stopped speaking. They move to a cottage, where Alma cares for Elisabet, confides in her, and begins having trouble distinguishing herself from her patient.

Persona is considered to be one of Bergman's greatest films and one of the most important films in the history of cinema. It has been praised for its innovative cinematography, complex characters, and psychological depth. The film has also been the subject of much critical analysis and interpretation, with scholars debating its themes and meanings.

One of the most striking aspects of Persona is its visual style. Bergman and cinematographer Sven Nykvist used a variety of techniques to create a unique and unsettling atmosphere. The film is shot largely in close-up, with the camera often focusing on the faces of the two women. Bergman also used a number of experimental techniques, such as superimposition, to create a sense of dislocation and unease.

The performances of Andersson and Ullmann are also central to the film's success. Both actresses give mesmerizing and nuanced performances, capturing the complex and evolving relationship between their characters. Andersson is particularly impressive as Alma, a woman who is gradually losing her own identity as she becomes more and more enmeshed with Elisabet.

Persona is a complex and challenging film that rewards multiple viewings. It is a film that explores the nature of identity, the relationship between art and life, and the power of the human mind.

The film has been interpreted in many different ways, but it is ultimately up to the viewer to decide what it means. Some see it as a meditation on the nature of acting and the relationship between art and reality. Others see it as a more personal film about Bergman's own struggles with identity and faith.

Whatever its meaning, Persona is a powerful and unforgettable film that has stayed with audiences for over 50 years. It is a film that rewards multiple viewings and continues to be studied and discussed by film scholars and fans alike.

I hope next month to view Bergman's Wild Strawberries.

"Bergman began his career in the theatre, directing plays by Shakespeare, Strindberg, and Ibsen. He made his directorial debut in 1944 with the film Crisis, and went on to direct over 60 films during his career. Some of his most acclaimed films include:

The Seventh Seal (1957)
Wild Strawberries (1957)
Persona (1966)
Scenes from a Marriage (1973)
Fanny and Alexander (1982)" From Bard

Mel Ulm

Monday, October 30, 2023

My Quarrel With Hersh Rasseyner - A Short Story by Chaim Grade- translated from the Yiddish by Ruth Wisse

My Quarrel With Hersh Rasseyner - A Short Story by Chaim Grade - 1952- translated from the Yiddish with an illuminating introduction by Ruth Wisse - 2020

Today's Story and the introduction can be read at the link above.

 "For nearly a thousand years, European Jews thought, spoke, argued, and lived out their lives in Yiddish. It was the language of an entire civilization, built on the foundations of educational institutions, voluntary associations, and communal organizations that over time became the central repository of modern Jewish culture. It was in Yiddish that European Jewry confronted modernity—confronted, that is, the rise of nationalism, Enlightenment liberalism, Communism, and its own twin impulses for religious reform and religious orthodoxy. That this civilization was brimming over with vitality into the 20th century can be seen by the fact that it managed to simultaneously nurse a decidedly secular literary tradition and cultivate institutions of traditional Jewish learning arguably unsurpassed by any other Jewish community at any time in Jewish history. That all came to an abrupt end with Hitler’s war on the Jews. The destruction of the 1930s and 1940s posed enormous questions, and spurred investigation and answer by those who survived it. Chaim Grade, one of the most extraordinary modern Yiddish writers, offers a very pointed answer to the Holocaust in his 1952 story “My Quarrel with Hersh Rasseyner.” True Jewish continuity, Grade seems to say, was not to be found merely in the physical survival of Jewish communities, but in the survival of the theological, intellectual, and moral arguments that have always characterized Jewish life. The Jewish people is structured by its contentions and disputes, and not even the risk of physical annihilation can silence the abiding claims of obligation and freedom that press upon every Jew, then and now. The story is a true masterpiece, one of the finest expressions of modern Jewish culture. Mosaic is pleased beyond measure to bring you Ruth R. Wisse’s rendering of the first unabridged English translation of the text, along with her sparkling interpretive and introductory essay." From the preface by Mosaic 

I quoted at some length from the preface as their account of the historical 
 importance of this work way surpasses my abilities and knowledge.

It relays a conversation of between 
Two now older Jewish men who survived the Holocaust, one in a Concentration Camp and one escaped to Russia. Both were raised and educated in Vilna in Lithuanian. They encountered each other two years after the war was over, on a bus in Paris. Each had assumed the other died during the Holocaust.   Both did lose all their families.

The man who was in a camp taught traditional teachings to a group of Jewish boys also imprisoned there. He was a very strong believer in the teachings of the Torah. The other man had lost much of his faith due to the Holocaust.  He reasoned how can we be the chosen people, how can we not hate the Germans. He is an established poet, read widely by  Europeans of a wide diversity.  He takes pride in this and takes his self worth from the praise of what the other man sees as the corruption of the world.

Each man is challenged by the other,  

Anyone who does not understand why understanding the meaning of the Holocaust obviously does not have any awareness of events in the Middle East now.

"“That is the outlook and the Musar path of ‘the old one,’ Reb Yosef Yoizl— may his merit be a shield for us—and thousands of Novaredok students steeped themselves in it day and night. We labored to make ourselves better, each of us filed and polished his own soul, with examiners gathering evidence of our improvement like pearls. But you laughed at us. Then came the German—may his name be blotted out—and murdered our sainted students. And now here we both stand before the devastated Community of Israel. But you face a khurbn of your own—the destruction of your faith in the world. That’s what hurts you and torments you, so you ask me: why weren’t the wise men of the Gentiles able to be good if they wanted to be good? And you find contradictions in what I said. But the contradiction you find is in yourself. You thought the world was striving to become better but you discovered that it was striving for our blood."

The conversation will require your full attention.

Chaim Grade Born in Vilna in 1910, Chaim Grade was a novelist and poet, known for such works as The Yeshiva. He settled in the Bronx following World War II, where he lived until his death in 1982.

Ruth R. Wisse Ruth R. Wisse is a research professor at Harvard and a distinguished senior fellow at the Tikvah Fund. Her most recent book is No Joke: Making Jewish Humor (2013, paperback 2015).

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Fires on the Plain (野火, Nobi) is a 1959 Japanese war film directed by Kon Ichikawa, starring Eiji Funakosh - 0ne Hour Fifty minutes

 Available on YouTube with English Captions 

Ten years ago I read Fires On The Plain by Shohei Ooka (1951, translated from the Japanese by Ivan Morris, 1957, 246 pages)

Here is a portion of my post on the novel.

"Shohei Ooka (1909 to 1988-Tokyo) is know for one  famous book, Fires On The Plain.   He was one of the first Japanese authors to write fiction based on the Japanese experience in WWII.   Ooka was a French scholar and translator.    He translated The Red and the Black and  The Charter House of Parma both by Stendhal into Japanese.   In January of 1944 he was drafted into the Japanese Imperial Army and after a brief training was sent to the southern Philippines to fight the Americans and Filipino resistance forces.   In January 1945 he became a prisoner of war of the Americans.

I decided I wanted to read this book as soon as I saw it was about a Japanese soldier's experience in the Philippines in WWII.    A few members of my family still have living memories of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. "
I was delighted to find a highly regarded movie based on Fires in the Plain on YouTube 

The film follows a tubercular Japanese private, Tamura (Funakoshi), and his attempt to stay alive during the latter part of World War II. Tamura and his fellow soldiers are stranded in the jungles of the Philippines after the American army has returned. The Japanese army remnants have taken to the jungle after being driven out of the main cities. The Filipinos, after suffering a brutal Japanese occupation, are in little mood to show mercy on their former tormentors, and light the titular bonfires for communication. Japanese soldiers are reduced to little more than bandits and murderers as their supplies dry up and they are encircled by the American-Filipino forces.

Tamura is abandoned by his unit and forced to fend for himself. He is weak and sick, and must scavenge for food and water. He encounters other Japanese soldiers who have been reduced to madness and desperation. Some have resorted to cannibalism. Tamura himself is tempted to eat the flesh of a dead soldier, but he manages to resist.

Fires on the Plain is a powerful and disturbing film that depicts the brutality of war and the dehumanizing effects of conflict. It is a film that stays with you long after you have seen it.

The film was initially received mixed reviews from both Japanese and international critics concerning its violence and bleak theme. In following decades, however, it has become highly regarded and is now considered to be one of the greatest Japanese war films ever made. 

Mel Ulm

Random Acts of Optimism- A Short Story Collection by Alison Well - 2023 - 15 Short Stories-114 Pages

 I find posting upon a collection of Short stories more challenging than upon a novel.  I loved this debut collection by Alison Wells, some of the works have ties to the Gothic and Paranormal tradition but even the spectral figures epitomise human quandries.

I will post on four of the 15 stories, quoting enough to give you a feel for the author's beautiful prose.

"Bog Bodies"

"into the future, she wrenches herself out of the sucking bog, its desperate mouth fastened round her, the squelch and pop as it releases her like regurgitation. Under the earth she stretched her fragile fingers against the immovable soil, made of living remains but dead, dead weight. Everything she could not do. Now she pushes out, presses her fingerprints against the sagging soggy earth, she makes her mark. The bog bounces back, erases her. She rises up, a ragged mast on the high sea, weatherwhipped and pliant. Under her tanned leathery skin, her bones are frail, a luminescentlattice, roped loosely by sinew. She feels the wind behind her, filling up her sails, she readies herself for flight. Above her head a heron makes determined for hill-framed shining water." 

If Sheridan le Fanu, the great 19th century Irish writer of classic Gothic, Horror and Ghost novels and short stories were to have the across time pleasure of reading "Bog Bodies" I think he would be gratified another Irish writer has added a marvelous story to the tradition. This story is a caution to bullies while celebrating near neolithic tradition.

"Through time she feels the weight of the bog, the strata of eons pressing upon her, the thin prehistoric cries of the ritually slain, outcasts and villains." From Bog Bodies 

"Last Tango with Dinosaurs"

tt was awkward about the dinosaurs. No-one knew what to do with the Brontosaurus in the park. On Wednesday a child digging to China on the beach found dinosaur eggs, still warm. On Friday a Pleisosaurus was spotted lunging at the hydrofoil in Ryde. By the following week, the the Pterodactyls had killed some seagulls at Shanklin.  And now the tea dancing was cancelled ... A plant-eater had jeopardized the floral arrangements at the local hall and all activities were suspended, including the Senior Tango competition." 

Set on The Isle of Wight
"Last Tango with Dinosaurs" is an hilarious account of what happens when an attempt is made to turn a proliferation of dinosaurs into a tourist bonanza. This is too enjoyable cinematic story for me to reveal more of the plot.

"Without the Light Pollution You Can See the Stars"

"He was always on the lookout for wonder, ever since he was young, always, long before he finally moved out here with Emily, Amy and Hannah. He’d always been beguiled by the romanticism of stars, their beautiful mystery, though they were so far away, or dead already. And yet the stars suggested some great white plain, beyond the dark."

This story had a deeply personal impact on me, I am not a poet as is the lead character but my life was transformed and I was opened to more of the join and pain of the world when i joined the family of my wife and her three daughters.  This was twenty years ago.  I do not easily bond with people and her way to early passing last year has brought on both darkness and light.

"The Spaceman has his Tea"

"For a short time after he got back everyone wanted his story; daytime TV, popular science journals, the local papers, all looking for sound bites from space. He found himself within a great hubbub of rhetoric, voracious vernacular. The first time he saw the Earth, that bright globe in blackness, he’d expected the symphony of violins, the music of the sphere. But all there was only silence."

One, as I perceive, the themes of the stories in this collection, is how alone we can become among others by transformative events. For the space man it was his trip around the earth in a spacecraft. It is like the rest of his time on earth will just be marking time.

Some press reviews

"A genuinely marvellous collection. There’s a crystalline quality to the prose that at times dazzles and at others leaves you gasping for breath, but more than anything it’s the compulsive nature of the storytelling that will have readers unable to put this collection down. Alison Wells, a very fine writer and clearly one who has honed her craft to mastery, deserves a broad and enthusiastic audience. Random Acts of Optimism ought to do the trick.”  – Billy O’Callaghan, author of Life Sentences

'There’s an incredibly sensual precision to Wells’ sentences – nobody writes like Alison Wells – her stories sizzle, she’s an unsentimental yet compassionate documenter of humanity, whose stories are never what you might expect. She has an unusual and imaginative approach, a wide range, and a canny wisdom. The tragic and comic are not just juxtaposed, they wrap around each other – Wells is a unique voice, and this collection is one to treasure. Fans of the work of Lorrie Moore and Lucia Berlin will love this collection.” – Niamh Boyce, Award Winning Author of The Herbalist and Her Kind

Reading these 15 is stories one at a time will definitely give you an wonderful thought provoking interlude in your day.
 I ended up wishing there were at least 30.

Alison Wells was born in London, raised in Kerry and lives in Bray, near Dublin with her husband and four children. A graduate of Communication Studies and Psychology, she is now an enthusiastic librarian. Alison has been awarded residencies at Cill Rialaig, Co. Kerry. Her literary short fiction has been Pushcart prize nominated and shortlisted for Hennessy New Irish Writing, Bridport, BBC Opening Lines and Bray Literary Festival. Writing has appeared in The Stinging Fly, The Lonely Crowd, Crannóg, UK National Flash Fiction anthologies Jawbreakers and Scraps and New Island/RTÉ Arena’s New Planet Cabaret. Eat! was highly commended in the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair 2019. In 2020 she was a finalist with The Exhibit of Held Breaths. Her Head Above Water blog explores creativity and resilience.

Mel Ulm 

Friday, October 27, 2023

A Canterbury Tale- A 1944 Movie Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger- One Hour Thirty Eight Minutes


A Canterbury Tale is a 1944 British film directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. It is a modern-day retelling of Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, set during World War II. The film follows three pilgrims on their way to Canterbury: British Army Sergeant Peter Gibbs (Dennis Price), U.S. Army Sergeant Bob Johnson (John Sweet), and a "Land Girl", Miss Alison Smith (Sheila Sim).

The three pilgrims are delayed in the small town of Chillingbourne when Bob mistakenly gets off the train. They soon find themselves drawn into a mystery involving a serial criminal who is putting glue in women's hair. Alison becomes the latest victim of the glue-slinger, and the three pilgrims must work together to solve the mystery and catch the culprit.

The film is a complex and multi-layered work that explores themes of faith, patriotism, and the English national character. It is also a visually stunning film, with some of the most iconic images in British cinema.

A Canterbury Tale is a unique and unforgettable film that is still relevant today. It is a celebration of the human spirit and a powerful testament to the power of community.

I loved the marvelous open of the play when the opening of The Canterbury Tales is read.

The spreading of glue into the hair of women is a very odd, creepy crime.

The film has a deep sense and love for English history. The impact of the on going war is a marvel to treasure.  

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Shozo, a Cat and Two Women- A 1956 Movie Directed by Shiró Toyoda - Based on a Novel by Junichiro Tanizaki - 2 hours 16 Minutes

Shozo, A Cat and Two Women (猫と庄造と二人のをんな, Neko to Shōzō to Futari no Onna) is a 1956 Japanese comedy-drama film directed by Shirō Toyoda and starring Hisaya Morishige, Isuzu Yamada, and Kyōko Kagawa. It is based on the 1936 novella of the same name by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki.

The film tells the story of Shōzō, a timid man who is dominated by his mother and his two wives. His first wife, Shinako, is boring and traditional, while his second wife, Fukuko, is trampish and crude. Shōzō finds solace in the company of his cat, Lily, who is the only one who truly understands him.

When Shinako moves out, Shōzō's mother, Orin, encourages him to marry Fukuko, the young daughter of his wealthy uncle Nakajima. Shōzō is initially reluctant, but he eventually agrees to the marriage.

However, Shōzō's new marriage does not bring him the happiness he had hoped for. Fukuko is just as demanding as Shinako, and she is also unfaithful and abusive  to him. Shōzō becomes increasingly isolated and withdrawn, and he finds himself turning to Lily more and more for companionship.

Shozo, A Cat and Two Women is a scathing satire of Japanese society and the traditional roles of men and women. It is also a moving story about a man's search for love and acceptance.

The film was critically acclaimed upon its release, and it won several awards, including the Kinema Junpo Award for Best Film. It is considered to be one of the finest Japanese films of the 1950s.

As a lifetime cat lover I was deeply moved by this film. If possible read the short novel by Junichiro Tanizaki first.

I have located two  other movies on YouTube based on a novel by Tanizaki, The Makioka Sisters and They Key which I hope to watch soon.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen- 1811


Last month I  read Pride and Prejudice.  My goal is to read one of her novels per month until completed, something I wish I had done long ago but better late than never,

Sense and Sensibility and tells the story of the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, as they come of age and learn about love and life.

Elinor is the elder sister, 19, and she is known for her sense. She is level-headed and practical, and she tries to control her emotions. Marianne is the younger sister, 16,and she is known for her sensibility. She is passionate and expressive, and she wears her heart on her sleeve.

The sisters lose their father when Marianne is still young, and their family is forced to leave their home and move to a more modest cottage. Elinor and Marianne must then learn to navigate the social world and find their place in it.

Elinor meets and falls in love with Edward Ferrars, a sensible and kind man. However, Edward is not wealthy, and his family objects to the match. Marianne, on the other hand, is swept off her feet by John Willoughby, a charming and handsome man. However, Willoughby is not all he seems, and he eventually breaks Marianne's heart.

Through their experiences, Elinor and Marianne learn the importance of both sense and sensibility. They also learn that true love is more important than money or social status.

Sense and Sensibility has been adapted into several films and television series. The most famous adaptation is the 1995 film starring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, and Alan Rickman, which I hope to see soon.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Nazarin - A 1959 Film Directed by Luis Buñuel- 94 Minutes

 Available on YouTube with English Subtitles 

Earlier this month I watched my first film directed Luis Buñuel, 

Los Olvidados - The Young and The Dammed.  Similar to this movie, Nazarin is powerful vision of life among Mexico's poorest citizens, especially the women, focusing on a priest.

Nazarín is a 1959 Mexican  drama film directed by Luis Buñuel and co-written between Buñuel and Julio Alejandro, adapted from the eponymous novel of Benito Pérez Galdós. It tells the story of Padre Nazario, a Catholic priest who lives in a poor hostel in the Mexican countryside. He is a kind and compassionate man, but his beliefs and practices are often met with hostility and ridicule.

The film is a powerful indictment of the hypocrisy of organized religion and the ways in which it is often used to oppress the poor and vulnerable. Nazario is a Christ-like figure who is persecuted for his beliefs. He is eventually driven out of town and forced to live a life of poverty and exile.

The film is also a meditation on the nature of faith and the challenges of living a truly Christian life. Nazario is a man of deep faith, but he is also a flawed human being. He makes mistakes and is often tempted by the world around him. However, he never gives up on his beliefs, even when they lead him to suffering.

Nazarín was a critical and commercial success. It was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival, and it won the International Prize. The film has been praised for its social commentary, its exploration of faith, and its visual style.

The film was controversial in Mexico at the time of its release. The Catholic Church was critical of the film's portrayal of religion, and the government was concerned about its political implications. However, the film was also a commercial success, and it helped to establish Buñuel as a major director in Mexico.

Nazarín is considered to be one of Buñuel's greatest films

Mel Ulm

Sunday, October 22, 2023

The Spy in Black - A 1939 Film Directed by William Powell and Written by Emeric Pressburger- Their First Collaboration - Starring Valerie Hobson

 The Spy in Black - A 1939 Film Directed by William Powell and Written by Emeric Pressburger- Their First Collaboration - Starring Valerie Hobson - Run Time 91 Minutes 

Available on YouTube 

The Spy in Black is based on the 1917 novel of the same name by Joseph Storer Clouston. The film stars Conrad Veidt, Valerie Hobson, and Sebastian Shaw.

The film is set during World War I and tells the story of Captain Ernst Hardt (Veidt), a German U-boat commander who is sent to the Orkney Islands to gather intelligence on the British fleet. He meets with two double agents, Ashington (Shaw) and his wife, Mary (Hobson), who provide him with false information. Hardt is eventually captured by the British and forced to reveal his true mission.

The Spy in Black was a critical and commercial success, and it is now considered to be one of the finest British films of the pre-war era. It is praised for its suspenseful plot, its atmospheric cinematography, and its strong performances.

The film was released in the United States under the title U-Boat 29. It was not as successful in the US as it was in the UK, but it has since become a cult classic.

The Spy in Black is an important film in the history of British cinema. It is a well-made and suspenseful thriller that is also notable for its stylish visuals and its exploration of the theme of deception in wartime.

"Valerie Hobson (14 April 1917 – 13 November 1998) was a British actress whose film career spanned the 1930s to the early 1950s. She was best known for her roles in films such as Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Great Expectations (1946), and Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949. In 
1954, Hobson married John Profumo, a British government minister. They had one son together, David. Profumo's career was ended in disgrace in 1963 when it was revealed that he had lied to the House of Commons about an affair he had had with Christine Keeler, a 19-year-old showgirl. Hobson stood by Profumo throughout the scandal, and they remained married until her death in 1998.  
After the Profumo scandal, Hobson retired from acting and devoted herself to her family and to charity work. She was a tireless supporter of Toynbee Hall, a settlement house in the East End of London, and she worked closely with her husband to raise funds for the organization.

Hobson was a complex and fascinating woman. She was a successful actress, a devoted wife and mother, and a tireless philanthropist. She was also a victim of circumstance, and her life was forever changed by the Profumo scandal. However, she never lost her dignity or her sense of humor, and she remained a popular and respected figure until her death" from Bard

I greatly enjoyed The Spy in Black 

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Major Barbara - A 1941 Movie Based on a Play by George Bernard Shaw- starring Wendy Hiller and Rex Harrison- Directed by Gabriel Parcel - 2 Hours 1 Minute


Available on YouTube 

A few days ago I watched Pygmalion, another adoption of a play by George Bernard Shaw, starring Wendy Hiller.  Today another of Shaw's plays as a movie, also starring Wendy Hiller is featured.

Major Barbara is a 1941 British film starring Wendy Hiller and Rex Harrison. The film was produced and directed by Gabriel Pascal and edited by David Lean. It was adapted for the screen by Marjorie Deans and Anatole de Grunwald, based on the 1905 stage play Major Barbara by George Bernard Shaw. It was both a critical and financial success.

Barbara Undershaft (Hiller) is an idealistic major in the Salvation Army who is deeply troubled by the fact that her father, Andrew Undershaft (Robert Morley), is a wealthy weapons manufacturer. Meanwhile, Andrew is looking for an heir for his industrial empire, in particular a foundling like himself.

When Barbara's Salvation Army shelter is threatened with closure due to lack of funds, Andrew offers to donate a large sum of money on the condition that she join his business. Barbara is initially reluctant, but eventually agrees, believing that she can use her position to reform the company from within.

However, once inside the company, Barbara begins to see things from her father's perspective. She realizes that his business provides jobs for thousands of people and helps to keep the country safe. She also comes to appreciate his honesty and pragmatism.

Major Barbara is a complex and thought-provoking film that explores themes of social class, poverty, religion, and war. It is also a very funny film, with some sharp and witty dialogue.

The film was released during World War II, and some critics saw it as a pro-war propaganda film. However, Shaw himself insisted that the film was anti-war. He argued that the best way to prevent war is to create a more just and equitable society.

Major Barbara remain a relevant and important film today. It is a reminder that the world is a complex place, and that there are no easy answers to the problems we face. It is also a reminder that we can all make a difference, even if it is in a small way.s relevant and important film today. It is a reminder that the world is a complex place, and that there are no easy answers to the problems we face. It is also a reminder that we can all make a difference, even if it is in a small way.

The conversations display a lot of wit, the numerous minor characters are very well done.  Rex Harrison, fun to see him so young, is delightful as Barbara's suitor, a professor of Ancient Greek who successfully takes on her father in an epic argument.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Pygmalion - A 1938 movie based on ths Play by George Bernard Shaw- starring Wendy Hiller and Leslie Howard- o1 Minutes

 The 1938 film Pygmalion is a British adaptation of the 1913 stage play of the same name by George Bernard Shaw. It was directed by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard, who also starred in the film as Professor Henry Higgins. Wendy Hiller played Eliza Doolittle, the Cockney flower girl who Higgins transforms into a lady by modifying how she speaks.

The film tells the story of Higgins, a renowned phonetics expert, who makes a bet with his colleague Colonel Pickering that he can teach Eliza to speak so well that she will be able to pass as a duchess at an ambassador's garden party. Higgins takes Eliza into his home and begins her rigorous training, but he soon finds himself drawn to her in ways that he had not expected.

The film was a critical and commercial success, and it won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. It is considered to be one of the greatest British films ever made, and it has been adapted into several other films and musicals, including the 1956 musical My Fair Lady.

Pygmalion is a witty and satirical film that explores themes of class, social status, and the nature of language. It is also a love story, albeit a complicated one. Higgins and Eliza are drawn to each other, but they are also from very different worlds. In the end, Eliza must decide whether or not she wants to remain in Higgins's world, or if she wants to go her own way.

The film is also notable for its performances. Howard and Hiller are both excellent as Higgins and Eliza, and they have great chemistry together. The supporting cast is also strong, including Wilfrid Lawson as Eliza's father, Alfred Doolittle, and Scott Sunderland as Colonel Pickering.

I hope to shortly watch another Shaw play, Major Barbara, in which Wendy Hiller and Leslie Howard star 

Mel Ulm 

Los Olvidados - The Young and The Dammed- A Film Directed by Luis Buñuel-1950 - 76 Minutes


Los Olvidados (1950), also known as The Young and the Damned, is a Mexican crime drama film directed by Luis Buñuel. It is considered to be one of the greatest Mexican films ever made, and is widely praised for its unflinching portrayal of poverty, violence, and juvenile delinquency.

The film tells the story of a group of impoverished children living in the slums of Mexico City. The leader of the group, El Jaibo, is a violent and vindictive young man who is determined to rise above his circumstances. He is eventually killed in a fight, but his death is only the beginning of the film's tragic climax.

Los Olvidados is a deeply pessimistic film that offers no easy solutions to the problems it depicts. However, it is also a powerful and moving work of art that gives a voice to the voiceless and shines a light on the darkest corners of society.

Buñuel was a master of using cinema to explore the dark side of human nature, and Los Olvidados is one of his most powerful and disturbing films.

"Luis Buñuel Portolés (22 February 1900 – 29 July 1983) was a Spanish filmmaker who worked in France, Mexico, and Spain. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest and most influential filmmakers of all time. Buñuel's works were known for their avant-garde surrealism, often infused with political commentary.

Buñuel was born in Calanda, Spain, into a wealthy family. He received a strict Jesuit education, which sowed the seeds of his lifelong obsession with religion and subversive behavior. After moving to Madrid to study philosophy and literature, Buñuel became involved in the Spanish Surrealist movement. In 1929, he collaborated with Salvador Dalí on the short film Un Chien Andalou, which is considered to be one of the most important Surrealist films ever made.

After the Spanish Civil War, Buñuel fled to Mexico, where he made a number of films, including Los olvidados (1950) and El (1952). These films are considered to be masterpieces of Mexican cinema, and they helped to establish Buñuel's reputation as one of the world's leading filmmakers.

In the 1960s, Buñuel returned to Europe, where he made a number of his most acclaimed films, including Viridiana (1961), Belle de Jour (1967), and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972). These films are known for their subversive humor, their exploration of taboo subjects, and their challenging and innovative filmmaking techniques.

Buñuel died in Mexico City in 1983 at the age of 83. He left behind a body of work that is considered to be among the most important and influential in the history of cinema.

Some of Buñuel's most notable films include:

Un Chien Andalou (1929)
L'Âge d'or (1930)
Los olvidados (1950)
Viridiana (1961)
Belle de Jour (1967)
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)
Tristana (1970)
The Phantom of Liberty (1974)
This Obscure Object of Desire (1977)
Buñuel's films continue to be studied and admired by filmmakers and film scholars alike. His work has had a profound influence on generations of filmmakers, including Jean-Luc Godard, David Lynch, " From Bard 

In time I hope to view all of films above.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

I Know Whers I'm Going - A 1945 Film Directed by William Powell and Emeric Pressburger- 91 minutes

 Available on YouTube 

I Know Where I'm Going! is a 1945 British romantic drama film directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. It stars Wendy Hiller as Joan Webster, a young Englishwoman who travels to the Hebrides to marry a wealthy industrialist, but is stranded by bad weather on the Isle of Mull, where she meets and falls in love with a naval officer, played by Roger Livesey.

The film is a classic example of the Powell and Pressburger partnership, combining stunning cinematography, lyrical dialogue, and a powerful emotional core. It is also a celebration of Scottish culture and landscape, with many scenes shot on location in the Hebrides.

I Know Where I'm Going! was a critical and commercial success upon its release, and is now considered to be one of the greatest British films ever made. It was nominated for two Academy Awards, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography.

The film is a charming and witty exploration of love, fate, and the importance of following one's heart. It is also a beautiful showcase for the Scottish Highlands, with stunning cinematography that captures the rugged beauty of the landscape.

Here are some of the things that make "I Know Where I'm Going!" a great film:

It is a beautifully made film, with stunning cinematography and evocative use of music.

The characters are complex and well-developed. Joan is a strong and independent woman, but she is also vulnerable and insecure. Torquil is a charming and romantic man, but he also has a dark secret.
The story is heartwarming and uplifting. Joan's journey is one of self-discovery and personal growth. She learns to follow her heart and to live her life to the fullest.

The sequence in a storm are very thrilling, brilliantly done,  the central male character is a British Navy officer on a short leave, I hope he makes it back to his island,

Mel Ulm 

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Foreign Corrpondent- A 1940 Film Directed by Alfred Hitchcock- run time Two Hours

 Available on YouTube 

The film follows Joel McCrea as John Jones, a crime reporter who is sent to Europe by his American newspaper as a foreign correspondent. He is initially reluctant to go, but his editor convinces him that it is a great opportunity.

When Jones arrives in London, he is quickly drawn into a web of intrigue. He meets with a Dutch diplomat who is trying to expose a Nazi spy ring, but the diplomat is assassinated before he can reveal too much. Jones then teams up with a beautiful politician's daughter (Laraine Day) and a urbane English journalist (George Sanders) to investigate the spy ring.

Their investigation leads them to a remote windmill in Holland, where they believe the Nazi spies are operating a secret radio transmitter. However, when they arrive at the windmill, they are captured by the spies.

I do not want to reveal much of the plot. I found the closing twenty minutes very exciting.  

Foreign Correspondent was a critical and commercial success when it was released in 1940. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Joel McCrea.

The film is considered to be one of Hitchcock's best early works. It is a suspenseful and exciting thriller with all the hallmarks of a classic Hitchcock film: great characters, clever plot twists, and masterful direction


Saturday, October 14, 2023

The Kings of Algiers How Two Jjewish Families Shaped the Mediterranean World During the Napoleonic Wars and Beyond- November 14, 2023 by Julie Kalman

 Here are the essential works on Jewish Banking and Merchant Families 

The Warburgs: The Twentieth-Century Odyssey of a Remarkable Jewish Family by Ron Chernow

Sassoons: The Great Global Merchants and The Making of an Empire by Joseph Sassoon

The House of Rothchild: Volume 1and 2: Money's Prophets 1798 to 1848 by Niall Ferguson

To these essential histories of Jewish banking families I am very glad to be able to let my readers know of a new book, The Kings of Algiers How Two Jewish Families Shaped the Mediterranean World During the Napoleonic Wars and Beyond by Julie Kalman, that is a very important edition to Jewish banking and merchant families scholarship.

"At the height of the Napoleonic Wars, the Bacri brothers and their nephew, Naphtali Busnach, were perhaps the most notorious Jews in the Mediterranean. Based in the strategic port of Algiers, their interconnected families traded in raw goods and luxury items, brokered diplomatic relations with the Ottomans, and lent vital capital to warring nations. For the French, British, and Americans, who competed fiercely for access to trade and influence in the region, there was no getting around the Bacris and the Busnachs. The Kings of Algiers traces the rise and fall of these two trading families over four tumultuous decades in the nineteenth century.

In this panoramic book, Julie Kalman restores their story—and Jewish history more broadly—to the histories of trade, corsairing, and high-stakes diplomacy in the Mediterranean during the Napoleonic Wars and their aftermath. Jacob Bacri dined with Napoleon himself. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Horatio Nelson considered strategies to circumvent the Bacris’ influence. As the families’ ambitions grew, so did the perils, from imprisonment and assassination to fraud and collapse.
The Kings of Algiers brings vividly to life an age of competitive imperialism and nascent nationalism and demonstrates how people and events on the periphery shaped perceptions and decisions in the distant metropoles of the world’s great nations." From the publisher, Princeton University Press

Unlike the Rothchilds and the Warburgs, the Bacris family was more at the mercy of the rulers they served, the deys of Algeria.

The book focuses on the first four decades of the 19th century. The Algerian rulers were in the practice of taking European and American ships captive and enslaving their crews. Kalman details the first rise of America to international power as the newly independent country fought back.

Algerian Royal politics were fraught with harsh rivalries for succession. Numerous rules were often killed by rivals.

The Bacris family members were often at odds with one another, borrowing among themselves without always repaying. 

Unlike the Rothchilds, Warburgs and Sassoons, the Bacris family did not have as strong an intelligence network and were not as unified. In one very telling way, as Kalman details, all of these families benefited from their status as "outsiders". It was not embarrassing to borrow from them and they were not normally perceived as having non-commercial ties to competing players. 

The Kings of Algiers How Two Jewish Families Shaped the Mediterranean World During the Napoleonic Wars and Beyond by Julie Kalman is extremely well documented and written in very elegant prose. I highly recommend it to any one interested in early 19th century history and especially to those into Jewish history.

"I completed my B.A. (Hons) at Monash University in 1992, and I have an M.A. (1998) and a PhD (2002) from the University of Melbourne. I am interested in the effects of Jewish emancipation on the non-Jewish world, ranging across French, British, and Mediterranean settings. I have other interests, too, and I have published on the history of migration to Australia, and the Eurovision Song Contest." From Julie Kalman 

Mel Ulm


Friday, October 13, 2023

The Seventh Seal - A 1957 Film Directed by Ingmar Bergman- 90 Minutes


"The Nordic reputation for lack of humor is well founded". ...Doctor  Sheldon Cooper :

I last saw The Seventh Seal about fifty years ago. I found it gratifying to revisit it.

Set in Sweden during the Black Death, it tells of the journey of a medieval knight (Max von Sydow) and a game of chess he plays with the personification of Death (Bengt Ekerot), who has come to take his life.

As Block and Death play chess, Block travels through Sweden with Jöns, encountering a variety of people, including a group of traveling players, a family of blacksmiths, and a group of peasants who are being burned at the stake for witchcraft.

Block is disturbed by the suffering and misery he sees, and he becomes even more disillusioned with the world. He begins to wonder if there is any meaning to life at all.

The title refers to a passage from the Book of Revelation, used both at the very start of the film and again towards the end, beginning with the words "And when the Lamb had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour." Here, the motif of silence refers to the "silence of God," which is a major theme of the film.

is a profound and moving meditation on the human condition, exploring themes such as mortality, faith, and the meaning of life. The film is also notable for its stunning visuals, Bergman's masterful direction, and the powerful performances of its cast.

"Ingmar Bergman (14 July 1918 – 30 July 2007) was a Swedish filmmaker and theatre director. Widely considered one of the greatest and most influential screenwriters and film directors of all time, his films have been described as "profoundly personal meditations into the myriad struggles facing the psyche and the soul". Some of his most acclaimed works include The Seventh Seal (1957), Wild Strawberries (1957), Persona (1966), and Fanny and Alexander (1982); these four films were included in the 2012 edition of Sight & Sound's Greatest Films of All Time. Bergman was also ranked No. 2 in The Guardian's list of the top 25 film directors of all time." From Bard

The Girl from Andros - A Play first preformed in 186 BCE - by Terence - Translated with an Introduction and Notes by Peter Brown -2006

 The Girl from Andros is a Roman comedy play by Terence, which was adapted from the Greek play Andria by Menander. It was first performed in 166 BC, and was one of Terence's most popular plays.

The play tells the story of Pamphilus, a young man who is in love with Glycerium, a beautiful slave girl from Andros. Pamphilus's father, Simo, has arranged for him to marry Philumena, the daughter of a wealthy friend. Pamphilus is torn between his love for Glycerium and his duty to his family.

In the end, Pamphilus is able to marry Glycerium, after it is revealed that she is actually a free citizen. The play ends with Simo and Philumena reconciling, and Pamphilus and Glycerium living happily ever after.

"Terence (c. 195/185 – c. 159? BC), better known in English as Terence (/ˈtɛrəns/), was an African Roman playwright during the Roman Republic. His comedies were performed for the first time around 166–160 BC. Terentius Lucanus, a Roman senator, brought Terence to Rome as a slave, educated him and later on, impressed by his abilities, freed him. It is thought that Terence abruptly died, around the age of 25, likely in Greece or on his way back to Rome, due to shipwreck or disease. He was supposedly on his way to explore and find inspiration for his comedies.

Terence wrote six comedies, all of which are extant:

The Girl from Andros (Andria)

The Mother-in-Law (Hecyra)

The Self-Tormentor (Heautontimorumenos)

The Eunuch (Eunuchus)

Phormio (Phormio)

The Brothers (Adelphi)

Terence's comedies were adapted from Greek New Comedy, but he made a number of changes to his originals. His plays are more refined and less slapstick than those of his predecessor Plautus. Terence also focused more on character development and psychological realism." From Bard

Thursday, October 12, 2023

"Silence is Golden”—a short story by Farah Ahamed - • published in The Markaz Review - 0ctober 1, 2023

first began to follow the work of Farah Ahamed on  April 3, 2015  .

"Silence is Golden" is  the tenth  of her short stories upon which I have posted. I reserve such coverage for writers whose talent and insight I greatly value.

You may read "Silence is Golden" at the link below

The Story focuses on Doctor Patel, assistant human resources director in a large corporation located in Lagore, Pakistan.

The story gets us off to a marvelous start:

"Monday morning and Dr. Fazal was ready for a productive week. Dr. Fazal, to be clear, did not have a PhD, nor was he a medical doctor, but his colleagues called him “Doctor” because he was full of “timeless philosophical wisdoms,” as he said himself.  He’d made the suggestion at an HR meeting in jest when he realized he was always being consulted when there were serious problems to be solved, and the name had stuck. One time, many years ago, he had the feeling that his colleagues were making fun of him, but that was a forgotten memory. When he did remember, he told his wife, “Being wrong is just as powerful as being right. Sometimes even more so.” He’d been at Amber Investments for ten years working as the Deputy Human Resources of HR Manager. He was not in any doubt that a man of his talent and superior intellect was destined for higher places. His favorite saying was, “In six simple words, I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It starts and stops with me.”

Doctor Patel is given a big assessment, to represent his company at a conference in London. It seems Doctor Patel does not quite understand what his manager meant when she told him "Silence is Golden".

I do not wish to give away the plot. I really enjoyed the exchanges of e-mails between Doctor Patel and his wife.

Farah Ahamed's short stories and essays have been published in The White Review, Ploughshares,  The Mechanics’ Institute Review, The Massachusetts Review amongst others. Her story “Hot Mango Chutney Sauce,” was shortlisted for the 2022 Commonwealth Prize. She is the editor of Period Matters: Menstruation Experiences in South Asia, Pan Macmillan India, 2022,. She is working on a novel, Days without Sun, a story about grief, friendship, and survival in the backstreets of Lahore. You can read more of her work here. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Cluny Brown - A 1946 Movie Directed by Ernst Lubitsch- Starring Jennifer Jones and Charles Boyer- 1 hour 46 Minutes

 This is the sixth movie directed by Ernst Lubitsch upon which I have posted.

Ernst Lubitsch 

Born: January 29, 1892, Berlin, Germany

Died: November 30, 1947, Los Angeles, California, United States

My favourites are Ninotchka and To Be or Not to Be

Cluny Brown is a witty and sophisticated comedy that satirizes British high society and the class system. 

The film tells the story of Cluny Brown (Jones), a free-spirited young woman who dreams of a better life. She is sent by her plumber uncle to work as a parlor maid in the country home of Sir Henry Carmel (Reginald Owen) and his wife, Alice (Margaret Bannerman). While there, she meets Adam Belinski (Boyer), a Czech refugee staying as a houseguest. Cluny is immediately attracted to Adam, but she is also engaged to marry Jonathan Wilson (Richard Haydn), a stuffy chemist.

Cluny soon finds herself torn between her two suitors and her own desires. She is drawn to Adam's passion and his unconventional lifestyle, but she is also afraid of giving up the security of a marriage to Jonathan. In the end, Cluny must decide which path she wants to take in life.

Cluny Brown was a critical and commercial success upon its release, grossing over $3 million at the box office. It was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Actress for Jones and Best Original Screenplay for Hoffenstein and Reinhardt.

Mel Ulm

Suspicion- A 1941 Film Directed by Alfred Hitchcock- Starring Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine- run time 1 hour 40 minutes

Alfred Hitchcock had a very long career in movies.
(Born: August 13, 1899, Leytonstone, London, United Kingdom
Died: April 29, 1980, Bel Air, Los Angeles, California, United States)

The film tells the story of Lina McLaidlaw (Fontaine), a wealthy young heiress who falls in love with and marries Johnnie Aysgarth (Grant), a charming but penniless playboy. After the marriage, Lina begins to suspect that Johnnie is involved in shady dealings and may even be planning to kill her for her inheritance.

Hitchcock uses a variety of techniques to build suspense and create a sense of paranoia in the audience. One of the most effective is the use of close-ups of Lina's face, which allows the viewer to see her growing fear and suspicion. Hitchcock also uses shadows, mirrors, and other visual elements to create a sense of unease and dread.

The film was a critical and success, and Fontaine won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance. Suspicion is considered to be one of Hitchcock's best films, and it is still admired today for its suspenseful atmosphere and its masterful use of cinematic techniques.

Here are some of the things that make Suspicion a classic psychological thriller:

The film's central premise is both intriguing and terrifying: is Lina's husband really planning to kill her?
The performances by Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine are both excellent. Grant is charming and charismatic, but he also has a dark side that Fontaine's character begins to suspect.

Hitchcock's direction is superb. He creates a sense of suspense and paranoia that keeps the audience on edge throughout the film.

The film's ending is both satisfying and disturbing. It provides a resolution to the central mystery, but it also leaves the audience with a sense of unease.

 The secondary characters, her parents, the crime novelists and others add a lot. In a macabre way there are for sure elements of humour.

Mel ulm

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Dreams- A 1990 Film Directed by Akira Kurosawa- Run time 1 hour 57 Minutes

 Available on YouTube 

Akira Kurosawa's Dreams is a 1990 anthology film of eight vignettes written and directed by Akira Kurosawa, starring Akira Terao, Martin Scorsese, Chishū Ryū, Mieko Harada and Mitsuko Baisho. It was inspired by actual recurring dreams that Kurosawa said he had repeatedly. It was his first film in 45 years in which he was the sole author of the screenplay. An international co-production of Japan and the United States, Dreams was made five years after Ran, with assistance from George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, and funded by Warner Bros.

The eight vignettes are:

Sunshine Through the Rain: A young boy witnesses a fox wedding in the forest.

The Peach Orchard: A young boy returns to his childhood home and finds it transformed into a magical peach orchard.

The Blizzard: A group of people are trapped in a snowstorm and experience hallucinations..

The Tunnel: A man travels through a dark tunnel and encounters various strange and disturbing things.

Crows: A young artist enters the world of a painting and meets Vincent van Gogh.

Mount Fuji in Red: A nuclear power plant near Mount Fuji melts down, and the surrounding area is devastated.

The Weeping Demon: A demon appears in a village and begins to cry, causing the villagers to despair..

Village of the Watermills: A man visits a village where the people live in harmony with nature.

The film is a deeply personal and introspective work, exploring Kurosawa's own fears, anxieties, and hopes for the future. It is also a visually stunning film, with some of the most striking and memorable imagery in Kurosawa's filmography.

Dreams was a critical and commercial success, and it is now considered to be one of Kurosawa's masterpieces. It is a unique and unforgettable film that offers a glimpse into the mind of one of the greatest filmmakers of all time.

Mel Ulm

Monday, October 9, 2023

Gone to Earth - A 1950 Film - Directed and written by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger - Run Time One Hour Fifty Minutes

Available on YouTube 

Some visceral reactions

1. The Casting of Jennifer Jones is brilliant 

2. I love Foxy

3. Traditional English Fox Hunting is vile.

4. The film beautifully evokes a pagan England

Gone to Earth is a 1950 British Technicolor film created by the director-writer team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. It stars Jennifer Jones, David Farrar, Cyril Cusack and Esmond Knight. The film was significantly changed for the American market by David O. Selznick and retitled The Wild Heart in 1952.

The film is based on the 1917 novel of the same name by author Mary Webb. 

The film is set in the Shropshire countryside in 1897. Hazel Woodus (Jennifer Jones) is a child of nature who loves and understands all of the wild animals more than she does the people around her. She is also a bit of a witch, and she consults the book of spells and charms left to her by her gypsy mother. Her father is a coffin maker and a musician. He and his daughter, his only child, have a relationship fraught with quarrels and deep love.

Local squire Jack Reddin (David Farrar) sees Hazel and wants her for himself. But Hazel has already promised herself to the Baptist minister Edward Marston (Cyril Cusack). A struggle for Hazel's body and soul ensues.

Gone to Earth is a beautifully shot and atmospheric film. It is also a complex and challenging film that explores themes of love, passion, nature, and religion. The film was not a commercial success when it was first released, but it has since come to be regarded as one of Powell and Pressburger's best films.

Mel Ulm

Sunday, October 8, 2023

The American Boyfriend by Ivy Ngeow - 2023 - 220 Pages

The American Boyfriend is the fourth work by the multitalented Ivy Ngeow which I have had the great pleasure of reading.  

I was at once drawn into the plot enthralling plot line. Ngeow has great skill at developing a sense of place in her works. Key West Fkorida, a city in which I have spent sometime, is so perfectly depicted it is almost a character in the story. When early in the novel a woman in describes Key West as "a place you go for a weekend and end up staying the rest of your life" I knew I was going to love American Boyfriend.

"Phoebe Wong would do anything to escape a British winter. But it may cost her more than her airfare.
Sunsets, tacos and margaritas all sound perfect to exhausted forty-three-year-old single mum Phoebe with a dead-end job in Southwark. When her long distance boyfriend in New York invites her to meet him in Florida, she couldn’t wait to jump on a plane with her toddler. Arriving with her teething child at her boyfriend’s Key West ‘vacay home’ before him, she is robbed on her first night. With no money, cards or passports, she is grateful for the support of friendly locals. At a BBQ, she meets an old expat British businessman. Her boyfriend arrives eventually, apologetic, and takes her out to a posh seafood dinner. But when the British expat is shot that night in the same restaurant’s car park, Phoebe is trapped in a put-up job, and her boyfriend’s delayed arrival is suspiciously timed. If this place has turned darker and chillier than London, she wants out.
Will she be able to pull herself and her daughter away from danger?" From the publisher, Penquin Books

I don't want to reveal much more of the plot so readers can experience the excitement and challenge of figuring out what will happen next, what the truth is behind masks,   Ngeow makes even minor characters come to life.

Ngeow conveys the impact of the lead character's Chinese heritage upon her outlook.  

I was hooked on The American Boyfriend from the start,  

Ivy Ngeow was born and raised in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. She holds an MA in Writing from Middlesex University, where she won the 2005 Middlesex University Literary Press Prize out of almost 1500 entrants worldwide. Her debut, Cry of the Flying Rhino (2017), was awarded the International Proverse Prize in Hong Kong. Her novels include Heart of Glass (2018), Overboard (2020) and White Crane Strikes (2022). She is commissioning editor of the Asian Anthology New Writing series. The American Boyfriend was longlisted for the Avon x Mushens Entertainment Prize for Commercial Fiction Writers of Colour 2022. She lives in London.

Mel Ulm