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Alicia Ang
Echoes from an Island
Alicia Ang, author

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

Echoes from an Island is a collection of poetry and short stories about inspiration and wonder. Told through the eyes of a woman visiting Okinawa, Japan, the book takes readers on a search for meaning that stretches across cultures, kingdoms, and eras. A mixed manuscript composed of 9 poems and 3 short stories, the poems celebrate ocean wonders, feminine strength, and spirituality, leaving one with a sense of awe and a touch of magic.
Ang’s emotional compilation of poems and short stories centered on the past, present, and future of Okinawa, Japan, pulses with a sense of longing and a search for identity, paying resonant homage to a life past and a city of culture lost. With every entry, Ang pulls together a narrative of strength, beauty, and new appreciation for older ways of life, as she watches sunsets with her cat, finds surprising connections to her home of Singapore, and muses about the Ryukyu, the independent island state that persisted on the island for almost half a millennium. The poem “Someone Met” is an early standout, its cadence and contents a celebration of the human spirit itself, while others introduce the spirits of the island (“A yuta speaks to all who seek echoes from the ocean”), lament the divides between the natural world and the digital and urban ones, and the possibility, after leaving a place, of forgetting it.

Work like Ang’s, of course, makes forgetting unlikely, and the collection digs deep into the past. The first short story, the fabulist “The Moon Princess,” retells a Chinese princess’s journey to the Ryukyu kingdom after the collapse of the Ming Dynasty, and her encounters with fantastical creatures and eventual surrender of her magical protection, a flaming pearl, in exchange for a last glimpse of her mother. That legend’s themes of displacement and loss echo in later stories. “Travel Fortune” covers a fictionalized Singaporan’s nourishing time with a contemporary Okinawan grandmother, discovering locals claim the Moon Princess as their own.

A third story, the touching and speculative “Metaland,” imagines a near future where a daughter, Amy, attempts to connect with her comatose mother, “the first human in a coma to be plugged into the metaverse.” Amy’s eager for more stories from the past. Those urgent themes power the collection: touching the past, relishing nature and peace, and creating the space in this life to find what you seek.

Takeaway: Touching stories and poetry of Okinawa life and legend.

Comparable Titles: Kai Hasegawa’s Okinawa, Frank Stewart and Katsunori Yamazato’s Living Spirit.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A