Happy New Year everyone! The first Wednesday of the year remains promising despite the ominous news we keep on receiving from all over the world. We are not yet fully out of the dark but hope still springs eternal. As it is midweek, it is also time for my first WWW Wednesday update for the year! WWW Wednesday is a bookish meme originally hosted by SAM@TAKING ON A WORLD OF WORDS. The mechanics for WWW Wednesday is quite simple, you just have to answer three questions:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What have you finished reading?
  3. What will you read next?

What are you currently reading?

David Mitchell earned an admirer in me with Cloud Atlas; I was simply astounded by both the writing and the labyrinthine tale. Honestly, however, I wasn’t looking forward to Utopia Avenue until I saw it being included as one of the best reads of 2020. So I ordered the book but I wasn’t able to read it before 2020 ended. It is, however, my second read in 2021; it is also my third Mitchell novel. The story revolves around four primary characters that were scouted by a music agent to form a band which they decided to call Utopia Avenue. It seems that there is going to be a lot of talk about music.

One of the characters, Jasper de Zoet rings a bell because I think he is the or at least one of the primary character in another Mitchell novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet; I bought a copy of the book previously but I am yet to read it. LOL. Early on, characters and objects from Cloud Atlas were mentioned; I think Vivian Ayrs was mentioned. This reminded me of one review I’ve read before, that Mitchell tends to overarch his novels, that a certain character or object will find its way to another one of his novels. Now I understand what they mean.

What have you finished reading?

In the transition between 2020 and 2021, I managed to complete two books. My last novel for 2020 was former Girls Generation member Jessica Jung’s first venture into literature. Shine revolves around Rachel Kim, a Korean American who moved together with her family from New York City to Seoul to pursue her dream of becoming a successful KPop idol. The novel vividly depicts the stringent KPop idol training regimen whilst underscoring the double standards that the industry have. It also had overtones of romance. Overall, it had some bright spots as it contains a positive message about chasing after one’s dreams despite the odds. Contrary to my expectations, it did have a solid start before it started falling apart in the second half. Perhaps a sequel?

My first read for 2021 is Jing-Jing Lee’s How We Disappeared. Longlisted for the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction, it is the story of Wang-Di who was taken from her family and village and shipped off to Japanese military brothel. Yes, the novel primarily revolves around comfort women, women who were forcefully taken from their family by Japanese soldiers during the Second World War to serve as basically sex slaves. This is one of the rarities that I read about comfort women although their stories of horror are familiar; some Filipinas served as comfort women as well when the Philippines was occupied by the Japanese. Thankfully, Lee didn’t rely on heavy and graphic images to make impression. Whilst Wang Di’s story was moving, the story set in the present was lacking.

What will you read next?

I still haven’t made up my mind yet on what books to read next, especially that I have already ran out of 2020 books to read. However, I am setting my eyes on these two novels – Goran Tunstrom’s The Christmas Oratorio and James Baldwin’s Go Tell It On the Mountain. I haven’t read any of their works yet and it would be great to discover what they both have in store. In the case of Tunstrom, I haven’t heard of him or any of his works until early last year when I encountered this novel through an online bookseller.

Thus concludes another WWW Wednesday update! I hope everyone is having a great midweek! Do keep safe and as always, enjoy reading! Happy new year everyone!