Happy Wednesday everyone! I hope that you are all doing well and are all healthy despite the risks that surround us. Things are starting to go back to normal although one should still throw caution in the air; the virus remains a threat. I hope that the pandemic will end soon. I am also praying that 2022 will be a year of hope, healing, and recovery for everyone. I hope that it will be a great year.

It is time for another WWW Wednesday update as it is a Wednesday. WWW Wednesday is a bookish meme originally hosted by SAM@TAKING ON A WORLD OF WORDS. The mechanics for WWW Wednesday are 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?

For August, I am going to immerse myself in the works of Asian literature; this is after I traveled all over Japan in July, at least in literature. I am now reading my second book for the month. It seems that August is going to be a slow reading month. Last month, I have completed 12 books, the most I read in a month since I started reading. Anyway, my second book for August is Geetanjali Shree’s Tomb of Sand, a book that first caught my attention after it was longlisted for the 2022 International Booker Prize earlier this year. I knew immediately that I wanted to read the book and somehow I kind of surmised that the award would be a toss between this book and Nobel Laureate in Literature Olga Tokarczuk’s The Books of Jacob (touted by the Swedish Committee as her magnum opus); Tokarczuk was also bidding for her second Booker win. It was a tough competition but the Indian writer’s fifth novel rose above the competition, further piquing my interest.

I thought it would be a challenge to obtain a copy of the book but thankfully, I was able to purchase a copy of the book this past week. Without any ado, I delved myself into the book; I was that excited. Originally published in Hindi as Ret Samadhi (रेत समाधि) in 2018, the story revolves around the story of an eighty-year-old matriarch simply referred to as Ma. I am nearly halfway through the story but Ma remains a puzzle to me as she is studied mainly through the insights of the people around her and an omniscient narrator who, at times, weaves herself or himself into the story. I hope to make a connection with her as the story moves forward. And yes, there is a hijra named Rosie Bua who entered Ma’s life. It is this aspect of the story that made me want to read it.

What have you finished reading?

As I mentioned, the first 10 days of August have been marked by slow progress, at least reading-wise. In the past week, I managed to complete just one book, Tan Twan Eng’s The Garden of Evening Mists. This is my first novel written by the Malaysian writer who was recommended to me by a friend. It was one of the books I am looking forward to reading this year, hence, its inclusion in my 2022 Top 22 Reading List. I am glad it lived up to the billing. A work of historical fiction, the novel is centered around Teoh Yun Ling, who we meet in the contemporary as a recently retired Supreme Court Judge. She was also diagnosed with aphasia, which made her travel to the Cameron Highlands. The timeline then shifts to the past. It was the early 1950s, and Malaysia was still referred to as Malaya. Its denizens were also reeling from the trauma left behind by Second World War. Herself a victim of the Japanese atrocities, Yun Ling traveled to the Cameron Highlands to commission Nakamura Aritomo to build a Japanese garden as a memorial for her sister, Teoh Yun Hong. This was despite her distaste for the Japanese. Aritomo, on the other hand, was once Emperor Hirohito’s imperial gardener before he left his job and moved to Malaya. Aritomo refused Yun Ling’s proposition but made a different offer: she will be his apprentice. This is definitely one of my best reads for the year. I was pleasantly surprised even though I did find Yun Ling an unbearable character at first; the story did take its time to unveil the mysteries that shrouded her character. This made me look forward to reading more of her works.

After completing The Garden of Evening Mists, I will be resuming my journey across Asia with Han Kang’s The White Book. This will be my third book by the International Booker Prize-winning South Korean writer. This book, I surmise, will provide a different dimension to Kang’s prose and storytelling. She already made me experience her brand of magical realism in The Vegetarian and her astuteness in historical fiction in Human Acts. Both books also examined human conditions deeply. I have surmised that it will prominently feature in her meditative book, The White Book. From South Korea, my journey will take me to Pakistan with a Booker Prize-shortlisted novel. Published in 2007, The Reluctant Fundamentalist was Mohsin Hamid’s second novel. This will be my first novel by the Pakistani writer. The third book I am looking forward to is Jessica Hagedorn’s Dogeaters. Reading at least two works by Filipino writers, after, is part of my reading resolutions.

That’s it for this week’s WWW Wednesday. I hope you are all doing great. Happy reading and always stay safe! Happy Wednesday again!