Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme that was started by @Lauren’s Page Turners but is now currently being hosted by Emily @ Budget Tales Book Blog. This meme is quite easy to follow – just randomly pick a book from your to-be-read list and give the reasons why you want to read it. It is that simple.
This week’s book:
Comfort Woman by Nora Okja Keller
Blurb from Goodreads
Possessing a wisdom and maturity rarely found in a first novelist, Korean-American writer Nora Okja Keller tells a heartwrenching and enthralling tale in this, her literary debut. Comfort Woman is the story of Akiko, a Korean refugee of World War II, and Beccah, her daughter by an American missionary. The two women are living on the edge of society–and sanity–in Honolulu, plagued by Akiko’s periodic encounters with the spirits of the dead, and by Beccah’s struggles to reclaim her mother from her past. Slowly and painfully Akiko reveals her tragic story and the horrifying years she was forced to serve as a comfort woman to Japanese soldiers. As Beccah uncovers these truths, she discovers her own strength and the secret of the powers she herself possessed–the precious gifts her mother has given her.
Why I Want To Read It
Happy first day of the week everyone! Happy first Monday of September! Yes, I know. Mondays are our least favorite day of the week. It means the start of the work week and also the start of the academic week. But I guess therein lies the beauty of Monday most of us don’t appreciate. It is about beginnings. It ushers in hope. It is the door to new opportunities. It is also a chance to be better. No matter how messy to past week has been, we can always restart. Anyway, I hope you started the week on the right note and I hope that the rest of the week will go great for everyone. I hope that you are all doing well and are in a good state of health, both in your mind and body. With the year on its final third, I hope that all that we’ve worked hard for during the year will be repaid and that all your prayers get answered. However, my fervent wish is for COVID-19 and monkeypox to be contained. With this, I implore everyone to be diligent in observing minimum health protocols.
To kickstart the blogging week, I am posting a new Goodreads Monday update. In the past two months, I have immersed myself in the works of Asian literature. My birth month July was dedicated to works of Japanese literature, one of my favorite parts of the vast literary world. August, on the other hand, was dedicated to the works of other Asian writers. The literary journey has certainly filled me and my yearning for a transformative literary journey. However, I have noted that I have been lagging behind in my 2022 reading challenges. As such, I have decided to focus on my reading challenges in the last four months of the year. I am starting with works of American literature as most books I listed on my reading challenges are works of American literature. The book I am featuring for this week’s Goodreads Monday update, however, is not part of any of these lists but is still within the ambit of American literature: Nora Okja Keller’s Comfort Woman.
Prior to posting this update, the idea hit me. The first two books I read this month were written by writers of mixed heritage. Sequoia Nagamatsu had Japanese roots while Hernan Diaz had Argentine roots. As such, the idea of featuring works of Asian-American writers seized me. One of the recommended works of Asian-American writers was Comfort Woman. It didn’t take me much to convince me to add the book to my growing reading list. From the title alone, I think I can imagine what the book is about. This is actually a very controversial subject but I rarely encountered books that explored this subject. Jing-Jing Lee’s How We Disappeared was one of the more recent books that dealt with this controversial subject. I also came across it in Eka Kurniawan’s Beauty is a Wound. I have an inkling on the subject because Filipino women were also made comfort women during the Japanese occupation. There are also several Filipino documentaries that grappled with this.
The wound of the past will take a long time to heal. Comfort women remain a sensitive subject in Korean-Japanese relationships. Just in the past decade, a statue of a young woman was erected in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, causing furor and diplomatic tension between the neighboring states. Apart from this sensitive subject, the novel, it seems, grapples with other seminal themes such as the immigrant experience, which reminds me of another Korean-American writer, Chang-Rae Lee. The book also has a hopeful tone. While I have never heard of Keller previously, I am more than looking forward to what her work has in store.
How about you fellow reader? Are there works of Iranian/Persian literature you want to recommend? Do drop it in the comment box. For now, happy Monday and, as always, happy reading!