Leila Philip

Narrative Nonfiction

Afamplace.jpg

Buy the Book

A Family Place: A Hudson Valley Farm, Three Centuries, Five Wars, One Family

Viking 2001, Penguin 2002, SUNY Excelsior 2009

Winner of the Victorian Society Book Award
Winner of the Documentation of American Life Award

“An exquisite rendering of a Hudson Valley family farm, as detailed and colored as a Persian miniature. Philip’s family history is alarmingly transporting, and her sense of place so rich you can taste it.”

–Kirkus

About the Book

In this luminous memoir, award-wining author Leila Philip tells the story of her ancestral Hudson River home, Talavera, the mysetery of her attachment to it, and her search to come to terms with the truth about her family's three-century history there. After her father's death in 1992, Philip and her family struggled to find the means to keep Talavera intact. This uphill battle led her to examine the forces that compel a family to sacrafice almost everything to hold on to a piece of land. In a historical quest both suprising and engagin, Philip addresses the tensions between memory and recorded fact and invites readers to take a new look at their own sense of home.

“… an unpretentious, subtly shaded story of the importance of understanding the ghosts and heroes that reside in every ancestral home.”

–New York Times

“An exquisite rendering of a Hudson Valley family farm, as detailed and colored as a Persian miniature. Philip’s family history is alarmingly transporting, and her sense of place so rich you can taste it.”

–Kirkus

“Mesmerizing…Both narrative threads are profoundly personal. Braided together with insight, they pay homage to the ideals of home and family with a resonance that should extend beyond her home region.”

–Publisher’s Weekly

“Philip grafts history, natural history, and autobiography into a stunning performance.”

–Marueen Howard


miyama1.jpg

Buy the Book

The Road Through Miyama

Random House 1989, Vintage 1991, 1992

Winner of the PEN 1990 Martha Albrand Citation for Nonfiction

“An unusually sharp observer and graceful writer, Leila Philip has brought to life a part of Japan that will be a revelation even to most Japanese readers... a charming debut by a gifted writer.”

–James Fallows

“A charming mix, and an unusual look at pottery lore and technique, and at a modern aspirations and traditional attitudes in Japanese life.

–Kirkus
 

About the Book

In 1983 Leila Philip made her way to southernmost Japan in search of a potter who would take on a foreign apprentice. In Miyama–a village settled almost four centuries ago by seventy Korean potters–she was accepted as an apprentice into the workshop and home of master potter Kazy Nagayoshi and his wife, Reiko.

As she tells us of her progress in the poetry workshop, Philip gives us an insightful guide to an exacting craft, a deeply personal portrait of the village, and a beautifully perceptive look at the cultural roots of modern Japan. With good humor and vivid detail, she tells of days spent planting and harvesting rice in the paddies. And with grace and respect, she introduces us to the people of Miyama–to the feisty old farming woman, to the artisans from neighboring studios, and, most especially, to Nagayoshi and Reiko.

“A charming mix, and an unusual look at pottery lore and technique, and at a modern aspirations and traditional attitudes in Japanese life.”

–Kirkus

“In this enchanting book, Philip recounts her trip with sensitivity and clarity. The reader will learn much about potting, but also about Japanese history, social mores, rural life, modern youth, religion and much else.”

–Library Journal

“I found Leila Philip's book The Road Through Miama an entirely authentic and fascinating glimpse into one of the more unusual crannies of Japanese society... As perceptive and evocative as Japanese haiku and delightful to read.”

–Edwin O. Reischauer

“An unusually sharp observer and graceful writer, Leila Philip has brought to life a part of Japan that will be a revelation even to most Japanese readers... a charming debut by a gifted writer.”

–James Fallows

“A rare book about living in Japan: we truly get to know the Japanese of this village and can only hope that they got to know this extrordinary young writer as well as we do through her book.”

–Donald Keene

“A lovely memoir of Philip's apprenticship to a master potter in Japan, as well as a gentle and generous portrait of village life... as delicate and full of grace as a Japanese tea cup.”

-Gretel Ehrlich


Hidden.jpg

Buy the Book

Hidden Dialogue: A Discussion Between Women in Japan and the United States

U.S. Japan Program Series, New York Japan Society, 1992

Hidden Dialogue examines the evolving roles of women in Japan and the implications for Japanese society.

About the Book

Women in Japan and the United States have always been in a dialogue, albeit silent one. Here in the United States, cultural stereotypes of Japanese women- Madame Butterfly or the alluring geisha- have been held up as models of female submissiveness. As Japan's role as economic competitor has grown, this stereotype has transformed into that of the household drudge, a reminder and warning to American women that they should stop complaining and appreciate how much beter off they are. In Japan, the stereotype of the American woman has served and equally ambivalent role. In the late '60s and '70s, Japanese mass media quickly caricatured the Wester feminist as a sex-deprived siren. And the contemporary American career woman, while attractive and bold, is routinely depicted as lonely and miserable, a ruthless competitor of men and destroyer of the family.

Recently, this dialogue of stereotypes became a dialogue of voices. At the Japan Society's "Women's Agenda for the '90s" conference held in Tarrytown, New York in June 1992, professional women from Japan and the United States had an opportunity to discuss what was on their minds. For almost two days, businesswomen and lawyers, policymakers and politicians, journalists and research analysts discussed their concerns as women leaders. They exchanged information on the current situation for women in both countries and compared strategies for change. Most important, they began to talk, to exchange stories and anecdotes and, through this process, to discover how fragile the differences between them really are.