kaya publishes books of the asian pacific diaspora

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Andrew Leong

Andrew Leong is an assistant professor of English and Comparative Literature at Northwestern University. He was born in Oakland and now lives in Chicago.


Lament in the Night

Kaya Press 2012

Lament in the Night collects two remarkable novellas by the author Shōson Nagahara, translated from the Japanese for the first time. The title novella, originally published in 1925, follows itinerant day laborer Ishikawa Sakuzo as he prowls the back alleys and bathhouses of Los Angeles, looking for a meal, a job or just someone to hold onto. The second novella follows a young mother working her way through bars and nightclubs after being abandoned by her gambling-addicted husband. Written in a deadpan tone that is both evocative and precise, this dazzling exercise in 1920s naturalist noir promises to become a classic of American literature. This first-ever English language publication of Lament in the Night opens up a whole realm of American literature that has been woefully underpublished and unexplored–namely, the literary heritage of non-English-speaking immigrants in America. Nagahara was influenced by many Western writers–especially Knut Hamsun, whose work he translated into Japanese–and his novels combine the gritty sensibility of Los Angeles noir with elements of Japanese traditional storytelling and epistolary techniques.


“Japanese American noir even before noir existed. Only Kaya Press, with fine detective work by dogged translator Andrew Leong, could have brought Shōson Nagahara’s once-buried work to 21st century readers.”

— Naomi Hirahara, Edgar Award-winning author of the Mas Arai mystery series

“Lament in the Night is a heartrending gift from the past… Little Tokyo in the 1920s—its bars, gambling, and social exchanges in an era of Prohibition—comes vividly to life in these stories, revealing the real and psychic underbelly of daily lives that have been erased and forgotten. Andrew Leong’s patient and careful translation makes a lost world known to us again.”

— Karen Tei Yamashita, author of I-Hotel

“Nagahara portrays tragedies of the ordinary—new Japanese immigrants to early 20th century Los Angeles scuffling for day jobs that pay pennies, mooching restaurant meals, exchanging frail kindnesses with others and enduring the humiliations of poverty. Nagahara’s prose is full of lyric reward as he chronicles the piteous lives of his protagonists, their homesickness for Japan and affections for each other. What emerges are revelations—that, despite oppressive lives and psychological dejection, the values that they cling to are the traditional ones of loyalty and sacrifice—giri in Japanese—even as they contend with woefully fluid, diasporic circumstances. Nagahara gives us our ancestors, and his Lament is a legacy.”

— Garret Hongo, author of Coral Road

“With his skillful translation of Shōson Nagahara’s novellas, Leong gives us a rare glimpse into the literary world of early twentieth century Japanese immigrants. Historically informed and elegantly crafted, his afterword is an excellent introduction to the lives of ordinary Issei women and men in pre-exclusion Japanese America, an aspect of the Asian American experience that has remained a conspicuous void for some time.”

— Eiichiro Azuma, author of Between Two Empires: Race, History, and Transnationalism in Japanese America

“This is not some guppy in the fishbowl of the multicultural era, when ethnic writing is factory farmed.”

— Khanh Ho, author of the Los Angeles Mystery blog

Andrew Leong news

Discussing Translation at the Japan/America Writers’ Dialogue

On Wednesday, October 15th at USC, Japanese authors and literature specialists came together to discuss the complexities of translation. The evening included two discussions. In “Baiting the Hook,” translators Michael Emmerich, Andrew Leong (translator of Lament in the Night), and Motoyuki Shibata discussed the tricky art of translating between Japanese and English. They explored the voices […]

Lament in the Night: An Evening of LA Pulp Authors

For Day 28 of DTLAB’s 90 consecutive days of events, award-winning mystery writer Naomi Hirahara will host a reading by L.A.-based pulp/crime writers inspired by Kaya Press’s historical rediscovery Lament in the Night. The mysterious Friday evening will feature Christa Faust and Wally Rudolph, and fittingly, readings from the book by Shoson Nagahara. The first-ever English […]

Andrew Leong: Tonight We Write on Sand

Huge congrats to Andrew Leong for winning the 2014 Association of Asian American Studies Book Award for Creative Writing for translating Shoshon Nagahara’s Lament in the Night (Kaya Press, 2012). Here is an excerpt from the incredible acceptance speech he gave: “With thanks to the Association – this award goes to Nagahara Hideaki Shōson, wherever he […]

Kaya Turns 20 in San Francisco

Kaya Press celebrates 20 years of publishing innovative Asian Pacific American and Asian diasporic literature in San Francisco, April 16 – 19, in conjunction with the Association for Asian American Studies Conference. Kaya 20th Anniversary Reading at City Lights Bookstore | Thursday April 17 | 7:30 p.m. | 261 Columbus Avenue at Broadway Come to […]