Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game


By Ann Israel and Gregg Swain

Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game is the first book to fully capture the story of the exotic and exciting game of Mah Jongg, offering an intimate look at the history of the game as well as the visual beauty of the tiles.

When authors Ann Israel and Gregg Swain began playing Mah Jongg, they were unaware of the vintage collections that existed not only in the United States but also in places as far-ranging as Africa to New Zealand. Slowly, they started to collect their own Mah Jongg sets, and as their collections grew, so did their appreciation of the history of, and interest in, the game.

Finding few references, Israel and Swain set out to create a book that chronicles the early beginnings of the game and documents Mah Jongg sets and accouterments from the most basic, made simply of paper, to some of the most opulent sets made of precious materials. Recognized and respected scholars and game experts have collaborated with Israel and Swain, contributing important chapters on the game’s history and its pieces. Lastly, great collectors from around the globe have shared their incredible sets and memories for the first time in one book for everyone to enjoy.

With hundreds of beautiful new images by renowned photographer, Michel Arnaud, and including historical documentation and ephemera, Mah Jongg: The Art & History of the Game fills the void between the past and today’s game, providing vision, inspiration, and resources. Anyone who has ever been intrigued by a Mah Jongg tile will find in these pages visually stunning photographs that will entice them into becoming an enthusiast of the timeless game of Mah Jongg.


  • 8.5" x 8.5"


Ann Israel grew up in Detroit and now lives in New York City. She has been writing Advice for the Lawlorn, a weekly syndicated column for attorneys published by American Law Media since 1994.

Gregg Swain, a graduate of Smith College with a Major in Art History, grew up in New York City where she nurtured her love of art. She earned a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. This is her first book.


Michel Arnaud’s work has appeared in countless books and magazines.