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Queen of Spring by Judithe Hernandez

Shanghai Noir

This beautiful woman is the "Queen of Spring", a lithograph created in 1976 by the Mexican-American artist Judithe Hernández. I saw her first ever solo show earlier this year at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, California. I found it again while I was casting about for an appropriate image for this week's newsletter. This one feels just right.

For one thing, it's about spring and the month of May, now almost at its end. For another, the lithograph was originally designed to be part of a calendar, the Calendario Mechicano 1977, and I've got calendars on my mind these days.

Wouldn't it be fun, I thought, to mark the 100th day before my husband and I depart on our round-the-world adventure? Then I got out my calendar and counted the days. Holy shit: this is day 93 and I have next to nothing booked.

So now I'm trying to kick myself into gear. As ever, I'm afraid of miscalculating. Forgetting about the time difference, days lost and gained. Trying to stay within our budget while converting Vietnamese dong and Korean won. I even got my knickers into a twist after reading a blog that swore that my hydrogen peroxide based contact lens solution was near impossible to source in Asia.

But no matter how much effort I put into my schedule, something is sure not to go to plan. And that's the best part! I love not knowing how this trip will evolve. I love knowing it will change me but without any idea of how.

Change is inevitable when you take a journey. In 1910, the Baek family leaves their home in Pyeongyang, Korea for Osaka, Japan. In their absence, their country is, fought over, and divided. They can't or won't go back. Nor can they assimilate, not even after three generations in Japan. Everyone says Pachinko, the novel by Korean-American author Min Jin Lee, is about endurance but for me it's about the journey. Here's my review: Stone the Crows.

Reading a novel about a place I'm about to visit is almost as good as being there myself. Yet fact continues to outperform fiction in the category of strangeness. The Seventh Day is a novel by Chinese author Yu Hua. A man misses his own cremation and must now roam the world of the unburied. It turns out that there really are lots of unburied corpses in China. They're stored in morgues and hospitals and cool caves. Read about them in this week's blog post: Dead Men Walking.

Cultural Revolution 2.0
The Accidental Reviewer
Have You Eaten Rice Today?
Deaths in Venice

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