It is midweek again! Happy Wednesday everyone. I hope you are all doing well during this time of uncertainties. With the midweek is another WWW Wednesday update. 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:
- What are you currently reading?
- What have you finished reading?
- What will you read next?
What are you currently reading?
After more than seven weeks of travelling all over Latin America and the Caribbean, I am finally pivoting back towards the Asian continent. I am now off to Japan, immersing in the best of Japanese Literature. Over the years, I have called Japanese literature my home as it is one part of the literary world that I always look forward to. An immersion into Japanese literature would not be complete without a Haruki Murakami novel; I have commenced my journey with his first ever work and now I am currently reading his second novel, Pinball, 1973. I have just started with Pinball, 1973 and it rather feels nostalgic because I am traveling back to time to witness Murakami’s humble beginnings.
What have you finished reading?
After having one-book weeks, the past seven days have been hectic as I completed four books. I think this is my first (or perhaps second) time completing this man books in a week. To be fair, three of these four books are novellas. The first of these four books is Jorge Amado’s Showdown. Originally published in Portuguese as Tocaia Grande, the novel deals with the story of a community in the rural areas of the modern state of Bahia. For years, Tocaia Grande has existed beyond the ambits of law. Among the motley crew of cast are prostitutes, a Lebanese merchant (often referred to as Turk), a faith healer, bandits, and plantation owners. Despite the nonexistence of law, the denizens of Tocaia Grande lived in harmony. The titular “showdown” occurs at the close of the book. It was a memorable first read from the prolific Brazilian storyteller.
From Brazil, I next journeyed to the Ecuadorian jungle with Chilean writer Luis Sepúlveda’s The Old Man Who Read Love Stories. It is a slender book and relates the story of Antonio Jose Bolivar Proano, who, for four decades, have lived an in the small village of El Idilio in the jungles of Ecuador. He was living a tranquil and simple life until one day when an ocelot goes amok and was wreaking havoc somewhere in the jungle. The ocelot is after some blood and the old man knows that he is the one to stop the ocelot from causing further danger. Despite its size, I loved the story and how it was related by Sepulveda. His lyrical prose, coupled with his atmospheric writing riveted me in. After reading the book, I was reminded of Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and The Sea. I was quite surprised to learn I wasn’t the only one.
It seems that Chilean writers will make a bulk of my Latin American literary adventure. After Roberto Bolaño, José Donoso, and Luis Sepúlveda, my journey into the depths of Latin American literature culminated with Alejandro Zambra’s Multiple Choice. Multiple Choice is, without a doubt, one of the most unique novels ever written. Rather than the conventional prose, Zambra takes it up a notch higher as he related the story in the form of a test. Its structure used the structure and questions of the Chilean Academic Aptitude Test to explore and underscore the role of education, and in particular, the correlation of multiple choice questions to promoting compliance to authoritarian rule. To further underline this seminal theme, here is one of the deepest lines from the parodic narrative: “The National Institute is rotten, but the world is rotten. They prepared you for this, for a world where everyone fucks everyone over. You’ll do well on the test, very well, don’t worry – you weren’t educate, you were trained.”
With Multiple Choice, my journey into Latin American and Caribbean literature has finally culminated. Now, it is time for the next adventure. From the Americas, I am journeying back to Asia, to one of my comfort zones, Japanese literature. This journey commenced with the popular writer Haruki Murakami’s Hear the Wind Sing. This is my eleventh Murakami novel and this is a book I have been looking forward to since this was his first ever novel. Narrated by the anonymous protagonist (a quality it shares with other Murakami works), it relates the story of his 1970 summer. As expected of a first work, Hear the Wind Sing does not live up to the grandeur of its successors such as Kafka on the Shore, The Windup Bird Chronicles, or even The Norwegian Wood. However, it laid the foundation to Murakami’s succeeding works such as his love for music, his anonymous protagonists, and cultural touchstones.
What will you read next?
After two Murakami short novels, I am looking at alternating an unfamiliar author with a familiar one. Earlier this year, I just picked up Kikuko Tsumura’s There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job for my interest was piqued by the color scheme and the novel’s title. As a corporate slave myself, I think that this is a novel that I can relate to (or many of us can relate to). Moreover, Japanese writers are masters of the slice-of-life genre (mangas are fine examples) so I know I am in for a treat. Junichiro Tanizaki’s The Makioka Sisters is a title that I have been looking forward to for the longest time. I have been holding out on buying a copy of the book for I was hoping I would find a hardbound copy (I never did). As I can no longer keep the tenterhook, I listed The Makioka Sisters as one of my 2021 Top 21 Reading List. I am really looking forward to the journey.
Thus concludes another WWW Wednesday update! I hope everyone is having a great midweek! Do keep safe and as always, enjoy reading!