Asian Works

Last year, I began exploring Asian literature more by delving into contemporary Asian works, mainly that of Japanese authors like Haruki Murakami, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Gail Tuskiyama. I’ve also read some of the older Japanese works by Lady Murasaki and Yasunari Kawabata. This year, I still intend to continue this trend and read more works by Asian writers.

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Title: Please Look After Mom

Author: Kyung-Sook Shin
Publisher: Vintage Books, January 2012
No. of Pages: 274
Synopsis: “When sixty-nine-year-old So-nyo is separated from her husband among the crowds in a Seoul subway station, her family begins a desperate search to find her. Yet as long-held secrets and private sorrows begin to reveal themselves, they are forced to wonder: how well did they actually know the woman they called Mom?”

A positive review by a book reviewer left a positive impression of this book. When I saw it on a local bookstore, I immediately grabbed a copy. Now I am crossing my fingers that this won’t disappoint.

Title: Kafka On The Shorekafka-on-the-shore
Author: Haruki Murakami
Publisher: Vintage International, October 2005
No. of Pages: 489
Synopsis: Kafka on the Shore is powered by two remarkable characters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister; and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is draw toward Kafka for reasons that, like the most basic activities of daily life, he cannot fathom.

As their paths converge, and reasons for that convergence become clear, Haruki Murakami enfolds readers in a world where cats talk, fish fall from the sky, and spirits slip out of their bodies to make love or commit murder. Kafka on the Shore displays one of the world’s great story-tellers at the peak of his powers.”

I’ve already read an e-copy of this book and to be honest I didn’t quite appreciate it. However, upon reading numerous positive reviews on this apparent literary hard-hitter, I’ve decided to buy a physical copy to re-read it.

25489025._UY400_SS400_Title: The Vegetarian
Author: Han Kang
Publisher: Hogarth, 2015
No. of Pages: 188
Synopsis: “Before the nightmares began, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary, controlled life. But the dreams – invasive images of blood and brutality – torture her, driving Yeong-hye to purge her mind and renounce eating meat altogether. It’s a small act of independence, but it interrupts her marriage and sets into motion an increasingly grotesque chain of events at home. As her husband, her brother-in-law, and her sister each fight to reassert their control, Yeong-hye obsessively defends the choice that’s become sacred to her. Soon their attempts turn desperate, subjecting first her mind, then her body, to ever more intrusive and perverse violations, sending Yeong-hye spiraling into a dangerous, bizarre estrangement, not only from those closest to her but also from herself.”

Another Asian work, and award-winning at that. This one was another work I came across through a fellow blogger who gave this book a positive review. 

Title: My Neighbor Totoro17571527._UY461_SS461_
Author: Tsugiko Kubo, Original story and art by Hayao Miyazaki
Publisher: VIZ Media, LLC, 2013
No. of Pages: 244
Synopsis: “Eleven-year-old Satsuki and her sassy little sister Mei have moved to the country to be closer to their ailing mother. Soon, in the woods behind their spooky old house, Satsuki and Mei discover a forest spirit named Totoro. When Mei goes missing, it’s up to Satsuki to find het sister, and she’ll need help from some new, and magical, friends.”

My Neighbor Totoro was first produced as an animated film by the legendary Studio Ghibli. It instantly became a hit and when I began watching Japanese animated films earlier this year, this was one of the most recommended. And when I saw its novel, I immediately grabbed a copy.


Other Works

61O-8TwlGvL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
Author: Susanna Clarke
Publisher: Tor Book, August 2006
No. of pages: 1006
Synopsis: “At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England’s history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England – until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight.

Soon, another praticing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell’s student and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear.”

Any promising magical fantasy work is worth my time.

Title: The Girl On The TrainThe-Girl-on-the-Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Publisher: Riverhead Books, July 2016
No. of Pages: 395
Synopsis: “EVERY DAY THE SAME

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life-as she sees it-is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

UNTIL TODAY

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?”

EVERY DAY THE SAME

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life-as she sees it-is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

UNTIL TODAY

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?”

A psychological thriller that piqued my interest because of the buzz it made in the literary world.

A_Brief_History_of_Seven_Killings,_CoverTitle: A Brief History Of Seven Killings
Author: Marlon James
Publisher: Riverhead Books, October 2015
No. of Pages: 686
Synopsis: “On  December 3, 1976, two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert, seven gunmen stormed the singer’s house. The attack wounded Marley, his wife, and his manager. Little was officially released about the gunmen, but much has been whispered, gossiped, and sung in the streets of West Kingston. In A Brief History of Seven Killings, novellist Marlon James re-creates that dangerous and unstable time as he deftly explores the lives of a host of unforgettable characters – gunmen, drug dealers, ond-night stands, CIA agents, even ghosts – over the course of thirty years. The result is a gripping and irresistible novel of power, mystery, and insight.”

Man Booker Prize winner. Enough said.

Title: Here I Am31434269
Author: Jonathan Safran Foer
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016
No. of Pages: 571
Synopsis: “In the book of Genesis, when God calls out, “Abraham!” before ordering him to sacrifice his son, Isaac, Abraham response, “Here I am.” Later, when Isaac calls out, “My father!” before asking him why there is no animal to slaughter, Abraham responds, “Here I am.”

How do we fulfill our conflicting duties as father, husband, and son; wife and mother; child and adult? Jew and American? How can we claim our own identities when our lives are linked so ‘closely to others’? These are the questions at the heart of Jonathan Safran Foer’s first novel in eleven years-a work of extraordinary scope and heartbreaking intimacy.

Unfolding over four tumultuous weeks in present-day Washington, D.C., Here I Am is the story of a fracturing family in a moment of crisis. As Jacob and Julia Block and their three sons are forced to confront the distances between the lives they think they want and the lives they are living, a catastrophic earthquake sets in motion a quickly escalating conflict in the Middle East. At stake is the meaning of home-and the fundamental question of how much aliveness one can bear.”

I first came across this book when I saw it as a part of the Top Ten 2016 must read book by a site. I immediately grabbed a copy when I saw it on a bookstore.

28763485Title: The Sun Is Also A Star
Author: Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Delacorte Press, 2016
No. of Pages: 348

 Synopsis: “Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?”

Positive commendations from fellow book lovers drew me to this book. This year, to open up my love month, purchased this book with the intention of writing my first book review. For my review of this book, click here.


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