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[personal profile] yatima
Content warning for child sexual abuse, incest, and intimate partner violence.

I knew this book only from the Spielberg movie. I am not a fan of Spielberg; I find him manipulative and his films shallow and cloying. Nothing prepared me for hearing Alice Walker read her own novel aloud. Her performance brings out the vivid poetry and wry intelligence of Celie's very singular voice.

This is the story of the three great loves of Celie's life: her sister Netti, the singer Shug Avery, and God himself. God is fine, I guess, whatever. Shug is one of literature's greatest bisexuals, and I would take a bullet for her. But Celie and Netti are America's Jane and Lizzie Bennett. Their love is vast.

By the end of the book I found myself hanging on every word, and gasping aloud at turns in the plot. You say something like "a modern masterpiece" and it makes it sound like homework reading, but The Color Purple is both great and really, really good.
sumofparts: picture of books with text 'books are humanity in print' (books)
[personal profile] sumofparts
I finished my second set of 50, yay and started a new set. Below are some thoughts on the books.

Remainder of second set:
39. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
40. A Gesture Life by Chang-rae Lee
41. Orange Mint and Honey by Carleen Brice
42. Zone One by Colson Whitehead
43. The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd
44. The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi
45. Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai
46. Snakes and Ladders by Gita Mehta
47. The End of East by Jen Sookfong Lee
48. Beijing Confidential by Jan Wong
49. Something Fierce by Carmen Aguirre
50. Brick Lane by Monica Ali
New set:
1. Decoded by Jay-Z

Cut for length )
sumofparts: picture of books with text 'books are humanity in print' (books)
[personal profile] sumofparts
Sort of a mid-year update. It's been a while since I read some of these so I've just written short impressions but feel free to ask about any of the books.

33. Alentejo Blue by Monica Ali
34. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
35. The New Moon's Arms by Nalo Hopkinson
36. Valmiki's Daughter by Shani Mootoo
37. Skim written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
38. Henry Chow and other stories edited by R. David Stephens (white)

Alentejo Blue by Monica Ali
This was a well-written book but ultimately disappointing because it just didn't feel like it was going anywhere. Judging from the Goodreads reviews, this was a departure from Brick Lane, which I'll still try eventually.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Like other posters on the comm, I enjoyed this book but it was not without its flaws, which I think everyone else has covered pretty well.

The New Moon's Arms by Nalo Hopkinson
I liked the book but I don't feel everything gelled very well for me. I did like how the main character wasn't always the most sympathetic.

Valmiki's Daughter by Shani Mootoo
Gorgeous writing and evocative descriptions but similar to The New Moon's Arms, something didn't quite click for me. Still, I'd definitely try this author's other books.

Skim written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki.
Very detailed and beautiful drawings that really capture the story. Equal credit should be given to author and illustrator.

Henry Chow and Other Stories by various authors, edited by R. David Stephens
Enjoyable but uneven collection of short stories for teenagers. I liked the different story settings and character perspectives. From the Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop.

a: ali monica, a: hopkinson nalo, a: mootoo shani, a: mariko tamaki, i: tamaki jillian, w-e: stephens r david, short stories, fantasy, lit fic, young adult, coming of age, graphic novel, bangladeshi-british, latin@, dominican-american, caribbean-canadian, jamaican, trinidadian, asian-canadian, chinese-canadian, japanese-canadian, glbt, women writers
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[personal profile] snowynight
Title: 暖床人 Nuan Quan Ren (The person who warms the bed)
Author: 三千界 San Qian Jie
Author Nationality and race: Chinese
Language: Chinese
Genre: Fiction
Length: novel
Subject: M/M romance
Summary: Losing his lover, Zhen wanders to another dimension and accidentally chooses him to warm his bed. Zhen warms his heart, and he warms Zhen's in return.
Review: I really like this author's style because it reads so relaxing and steadily paced. The development of the relationship feels very natural to me.
Link: Original site
snowynight: Kino in a suit with brown background (Default)
[personal profile] snowynight
Title: 最終流放|Zhei Jung Liu Fang!Utmost Exile
Author: 河漢He Hang
Author Nationality and race: Chinese
Language: Chinese
Genre: Fiction
Length: novel
Subject: Military fiction
Summary: Who's Liang Shang Juen? The pride of Norhwest Army, the lieutenant of the new Jia Nan new force. Who is Ji Che? The spine of Jia Nan, the ultimate military instructor. When these two men meets, what'll happen?
Review: The characterization is superb, the insight of the war good, and the pace is fast. Contains M/M romance. Warning: Contains brainwashing at the end

Link: Original site
snowynight: Ultimate Jan in her Wasp form (Ultimate Jan)
[personal profile] snowynight
Book 4
Title: 失落大陸|The Lost Continent| Si Luo Da Lu
Author: 多木木多|Duo Mu Mu Duo
Author Nationality and race: Chinese
Language: Chinese
Genre: Fiction
Length: novel
Subject: Fantasy

Scifi Post-colonial version of Robinson Crusoe )

Book 5
Title: 麒麟!Qi lin
Author: 桔子樹|Ji je Shu
Author Nationality and race: Chinese
Language: Chinese
Genre: Fiction
Length: novel
Subject: Military

Chiniese military fiction about men and mission )

Book 6
Title: 诺亚动物诊所病历记录簿(第一季)| Nuo Ya Dung Wu Zhen Suo Bing Li Ji Lu Bu (Di yi gui) | Noah Animal Clinic medical record
Author: live
Author Nationality and race: Chinese
Language: Chinese
Genre: Fiction
Length: novel
Subject: Fantasy

An animal clinic for mythological creatures )
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[identity profile] sumofparts.livejournal.com
1. Swimming in the Monsoon Sea by Shyam Selvadurai
2. Mr. Muo's Traveling Couch by Dai Sijie (translated by Ina Rilke; white)
3. Six Suspects by Vikas Swarup
4. Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley
5. The Circle of Reason by Amitav Ghosh

Read more... )

tags: a: selvadurai shyam, a: dai sijie, w-t: rilke ina, a: swarup vikas, a: o'malley bryan lee, a: ghosh amitav, chinese, french, indian, canadian, sri lankan, novel, fiction, graphic novel, young adult, china, india, toronto, sri lanka, glbt, mysteryr
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[identity profile] kyuuketsukirui.livejournal.com
Title: Sea, Swallow Me
Author: Craig Laurance Gidney
Number of Pages: 199 pages
My Rating: 2.5/5

Jacket Summary: Ancient folklore and modern myth come together in these stories by author Craig Laurance Gidney. Here are found the struggles of a medieval Japanese monk, seduced by a mischievous fairy, and a young slave who finds mystery deep within the briar patch of an antebellum plantation. Gidney offers readers a gay teen obsessed with his patron saint, Lena Horne, and, in the title story, an ailing tourist seeking to escape his troubles at a distant shore, but who never anticipates encountering an African seagod. Rich, poetic, dark and disturbing, these are tales not soon forgotten.

Review: Honestly I wasn't really impressed with this book. There were a few stories I really liked and the rest were just okay. Also, the copy I have is an ARC, so it's got a lot of mistakes, which hopefully were corrected in the final proof (the most annoying one was in the Japanese story, where Amaterasu was misspelled as Amaratsu throughout the story).

Title: The Calcutta Chromosome
Author: Amitav Ghosh
Number of Pages: 306 pages
My Rating: 2/5

Jacket Summary: It begins in a near-future New York City, witha low-level data analyst's investigation into the disappearance of L. Murugan--a driven eccentric who vanished from the steamy, overcrowded streets of 1995 Calcutta. From here, the story leaps backward and forward across one hundred years--from a teeming contemporary city of clashing cultures and hidden facs back to the laboratory of Ronald Ross, the British scientist who was led by weird, fortuitous coincidences to the groundbreaking discovery of how malaria is transmitted to humans. Alternately following the analyst Antar's search for Murugan--and Murugan's own obsessive pursuit of the truth behind Dr. Ross's remarkable findings--Ghosh brilliantly unveils an impossible experiment in controlled destiny protected by a powerful unseen society that moves the world in secret and in silence.

Review: I wish I had read this review of the book before picking it up myself, because it would have made it clear that this book is not for me. I found the story very slow going at first, and then eventually it picked up and was getting quite interesting, all the threads coming together, and then...it ends. With nothing resolved. Because apparently he's writing the book to give the reader the same experience as the people in the book, of not being able to get it all. But I do not want that. At all. I am not one to throw books across the room, but if I were, I would have thrown this. I do not read mysteries to get to the end and not have any resolution.
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[personal profile] zeborah
(A lightly-edited dump of my Goodreads reviews.)

Suckerpunch by Hernandez, David
Hooked me in at the start but the way events followed each other more realistically than determined by a story shape didn't quite work for me. (There was a story shape, it was just more in the gaps between the events.

Dawn (Xenogenesis, #1) by Butler, Octavia E.
So many consent issues... Very good: it's got the claustrophobia, the every-exit-is-a-deadend feel, that I'd normally associate with horror, but manages to retain an optimism about it. The aliens are convincinly alien, and the frustration of their refusal to listen is steadfast without becoming unbelievable.

Straight - A novel in the Irish-Maori tradition by O'Leary, Michael
Straight is the second book in the trilogy; I came to it without having read the first, but felt it stood alone well enough that I had no trouble following the plot. Unfortunately that plot -- the protagonist discovering his father may have been a Nazi, then getting blackmailed and kidnapped by Nazis -- was way too melodramatic for me to take seriously. The prose (especially the dialogue) clunked badly for me, too. I did like the motif of dreamland vs reality vs realism though: that played out well.

My Name Is Number 4 by Ye, Ting-xing
Most disasters bring people and communities together; it seems as if the Cultural Revolution was designed to tear them apart. But this book shows that the struggle to survive and to keep relationships alive is always worth making. --Excuse shallow triteness; reading this book in the aftermath of earthquake I have deeper thoughts on disasters and communities but verbalising is harder especially for fear of simplifying. It was a good book anyway.

People-faces, The by Cherrington, Lisa
This is mostly Nikki's story, of how she's affected by her brother's mental illness and her journey in understanding it - caught between Māori and Pākehā models of understanding - and her journey alongside that of getting to know herself and her strengths. Her grandmother tells her that the dolphin Tepuhi is her guardian, but her grandmother is demonstrably not infallible and with the repeated point that Joshua is of the sea while Nikki is of the land, I think the book bears out that the real/more effective guardian for her is the pīwaiwaka.

Her brother's story is told in the gaps between, and completes the book.

Despite the focus on Nikki and Joshua, we get to see various other points of view, showing the further impact on the rest of their family and their motivations. Some of the point of view shifts are a bit clunky, for example when we get a single scene from the Pākehā doctor's point of view, or just a couple from Nikki's boyfriend.

But this is well-told; the author (of Ngāti Hine) is a clinical psychologist and has worked in Māori mental health services, and the emotions of the story ring very true to me.

Cereus Blooms at Night: A Novel by Mootoo, Shani
This was a fantastic read but at times a very hard one; serious trigger warnings for child abuse (verbal, physical, sexual).

It begins as a beautifully sweet story about racial and sexual and gender identity; about family separations made by force or by choice, and about forbidden liaisons both healthy and unhealthy. Set in the country of Lantanacamara, colonised by the Shivering Northern Wetlands -- more an open code than fantasy countries -- the story focuses on three generations of locals, straight and gay, cis and trans, more and less inculturated by Wetlandish education. The narrator begins by disclaiming any significant role in the story; instantly I want to know more about him, and (though he was right that this is more Mala's story) I was not disappointed.

The main story, switching among its several timelines, grows darker and winds tighter with perfect pacing. Revelations are neither too delayed nor too forced. And as it heads towards the catastrophe we've foreseen, through horror worse than we could have imagined at the start, so it brings us towards its equally inevitable -- and no less satisfying -- eucatastrophe.
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[identity profile] kyuuketsukirui.livejournal.com
I don't usually post manga reviews here because I don't count manga towards my goal as I read so much of it. But this is a special case. I really want to get the word out about this story.

I have been translating Nakamura Ching's Gunjo for the scanlation group Kotonoha for a while now and just last week finished the final chapter of the first volume (the series is still running, but it will be three vols. total, and the first vol. is more than double the length of a regular manga, so it's longer than it seems) and while the scanlations are only up through chapter five (plus a special unnumbered backstory chapter), I really, really recommend it.

When I first heard the summary, that it was about a lesbian who kills the husband of the woman she loves (who doesn't love her back, and in fact treats her like shit), and the two go on the run together, I was dubious. It sounded like it could be really skeevy, but omg it is so, so good.

When I say this woman is a lesbian, she really is. This is no "gay for you" story. She has been a lesbian since high school, dates other women besides the woman whose husband she kills, and there are other lesbian characters as well. And as the story goes on, you find out that things are a lot more complicated than they seem. This is not a story about evil lesbians. It is not a story about evil women of any sexual orientation. There is a reason for everything, and you will sympathise with both main characters (as well as the many minor characters who get their turn (all women, all of whom are more complicated than they seem on the surface)). It's a manga that really critiques society.

And while I can't see a very happy ending for two women on the run from the law, if they do end up dead at the end or something, it won't feel like a Dead Lesbian story because they are not the only queer people in it. They are dysfunctional, but there are other queer people living their lives and being happy (I won't give spoilers, but the final chapter of vol. 1 focuses on one of the minor characters and is awesome in that regard).

I really can't say enough good about it, and I don't want to get into particulars too much because I think it's really best read without spoilers (though it is definitely not a pleasant story and there is domestic abuse as well as sexual assault). It's also really well drawn. The art has this visceral, raw quality that is just perfect for the story it's telling.

Also, I wondered due to the content of the story if the author was queer herself, and according to this interview (in English), she is indeed:
Q5: What were your motivations for creating Gunjo?

I wanted to draw the keen loneliness of a lonely person. I wanted to turn our kindness and cruelty (the kinds of emotions that we can't control with our own wills) into a manga. And also, because I am gay. Living a life of hiding I was gay was unpleasant, so I wanted to give myself the chance to admit I was gay.

I would recommend it even to people who are not that into manga, because it is just an awesome story and a smart story. You can read in English online or download the first six chapters on Kotonoha's website.

You can also buy volume one and volume two (just released last month) off Amazon Japan.
[identity profile] veleda-k.livejournal.com
I swore I wouldn't get behind this year, and look at this. I'm already lagging. I suck at New Years resolutions.

#2: The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino (translated by Alexander O. Smith with Elye J. Alexander)

The Devotion of Suspect X )

#3: Villain by Shuichi Yoshida (translated by Philip Gabriel)

Villain )

#4: The Other Side of Paradise: a Memoir by Staceyann Chin

The Other Side of Paradise )
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[identity profile] kyuuketsukirui.livejournal.com
Title: 4teen
Author: Ishida Ira
Number of Pages: 329 pages
My Rating: 4/5

Jacket Summary: Tsukishima, an island in the middle of Tokyo Bay. Here we race through the streets on our bikes, faster than the wind. Naoto, Dai, Jun, and me, Tetsuro, four 9th graders. We each have our problems, but together we can go anywhere, maybe we can even fly...

Review: Like Ikebukuro West Gate Park, 4teen is a collection of short stories about young people set in Tokyo (though younger kids this time and a different area of Tokyo). No mysteries here, though, but basically if you like Ikebukuro West Gate Park, if you like Ishida Ira's writing style, this is more of the same.

Title: Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity
Author: José Esteban Muñoz
Number of Pages: 222 pages
My Rating: 2/5

Jacket Summary: The LGBT agenda has for too long been dominated by pragmatic issues like same-sex marriage and gays in the military. It has been stifled by this myopic focus on the present, which is short-sighted and assimilationist. In a startling repudiation of what the LGBT movement has held dear, Muñoz contends that queerness is instead a futurity-bound phenomenon, a "not yet here" that critically engages pragmatic presentism.

Review: I picked this up off the new-books shelf at the library because the title caught my eye, but was really disappointed in it. Since he is explicitly critiquing the current LGBT movement, I had hopes that his "queer" wasn't a synonym for gay men as it (and LGBT, really) so often is. Alas, while there are a handful of lesbians here and there and an aside about a trans friend, this book is totally about gay men, mainly pre-AIDS gay male culture and art.

I could have rolled with that if the book had otherwise been interesting, but the academic language made it difficult for me to read, plus the whole thing lacked cohesion and just felt more like a collection of essays about this art/period he liked rather than something that was building towards a whole. Also, mainly he talked about what he liked about queer movements in the past, and what I had picked up the book hoping for was a critique of the current LGBT movement. But other than saying he doesn't like it, he doesn't really go into it at all.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
[personal profile] zeborah
Song For Night by Chris Abani
About a boy soldier (trained to defuse mines) separated from his platoon after an explosion. A short and easy read (in style if not in content matter. Trigger warnings re the content: skip) the book includes graphic descriptions of violence and of the protagonist being forced to rape a woman.) told in a beautiful prose style. It explores the sign language his platoon uses, his memories of the war, boot camp, the outbreak of violence between Igbo and Fulani, and his childhood.

Huia Short Stories 6
Huia Publishers put out an anthology each year of contemporary Māori fiction. I'm... ultimately not a fan of contemporary fiction, I think. Melanie Drewery's "Weight of the World" stood out for me among the rest, being more humorous in tone. In the author bios at the end, Eru J. Hart, said he "asks that other Māori writers think beyond stories of 'Nanny in the kūmara patch'" -- his own was really interesting stylistically/structurally but in content it wasn't so very distant from what I'm tempted to call 'Sister in the big city' which many stories in this volume shared (and which I recall studying in high school in the form of Witi Ihimaera's "Big Brother Little Sister" (1974)). This isn't a criticism really; it's just that it's not my kind of story so while reading one is fine, reading a dozen in a row is a bit much for me. :-) But if it's the kind of thing you like, then you'll like it.

(The other cool thing about this collection is it includes four stories written in Te Reo, one of which is written in the Kai Tahu dialect. Far beyond my current ability to read, alas, especially as I think I'd have liked to read "Ko Māui me ngā Kūmara a Wiwīwawā".)

Ruahine: mythic women by Ngahuia Te Awekotuku
This anthology, on the other hand, I really enjoyed. For each story, the author gives a brief summary of the original folktale/history, then tells her own interpretation of it. All the stories are about strong women; several include female/female relationships and one a male/male relationship. And of course the reason [livejournal.com profile] kitsuchi recommended it to me in the first place was because one of the stories was science fiction and full of awesomeness.
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[identity profile] kyuuketsukirui.livejournal.com
Title: Name Me Nobody
Author: Lois-Ann Yamanaka
Number of Pages: 226 pages
My Rating: 4/5

Jacket Summary: Fourteen-year-old Emi-Lou feels like a nobody - she's overweight, her mom lives in faraway California and rarely visits or calls, and she doesn't know who her father is. The only people who make her feel like somebody are her brave, blunt grandma, and her best friend, Von. "Where Von go, Emi-Lou go," their families and friends say. But now Emi-Lou fears that Von is going somewhere she can't follow. Von has feelings for Babes, an older girl on their softball team. But Emi-Lou wants desperately for Von to be "normal", not a "lez", and for them to be the same best friends they've always been. What will Emi-Lou be without Von? Nobody, she thinks. But Emi-Lou's desperate actions to hold on to her best friend just may break them apart forever.

Review: I didn't like this as much as Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers. I don't know if two books is enough to say there's a trend, but this is the second book where there are secondary characters who are queer (in the case of Name Me Nobody, quite a few of them), but while the main character gets called lesbian/dyke/etc. it turns out she isn't. And in this book, even though it's all about learning to accept her best friend is a lesbian, overall it kind of comes off as "whew, at least the protagonist isn't gay!"

I also wasn't thrilled with the weight-loss theme. I liked in Wild Meat that the main character just was fat and it wasn't about her losing weight. The weight issues in this book are all very realistic, but it made me sad that while her grandma said she would love her if she were a lesbian and gave this big speech about how Emi-lou should love Von for who she is, even in the end she was stil harping on Emi-lou's weight (and the fact that Emi-lou had starved herself and used diet pills to get thin was never really resolved).

Despite that, I did like the book quite a bit.
[identity profile] zahrawithaz.livejournal.com
Stealing Nasreen, a first novel, tells the story of three Gujarati-Canadians: two recent immigrants, a husband and wife, who separately develop obsessions with Nasreen, a second-generation Gujarati-Canadian lesbian.

Shaffiq, an accountant in India, moved his family because anti-Muslim bias had barred him from promotion. But in Canada he is only been able to find work as a janitor in the hospital where Nasreen, a psychologist works. Bored and resentful of his menial job, he begins stealing small objects from her office. His wife Salma, who never wanted to leave India, meets Nasreen through the Gujarati classes she teaches and feels at once attracted.

Full review contains spoilers, though not for the ending. )
[identity profile] fiction-theory.livejournal.com

Title: The Salt Roads
Author: Nalo Hopkinson (NaloHopkinson.com; Author's Blog; @nalohopkinson)
Genre: Fantasy
Page Count: 392
Publisher: Warner Books

Reviewer's Note: I hope that the tags I have used are appropriate and as always, if any part or the whole of this review is not appropriate for this community, I will edit or delete immediately at the request of the moderators.

Review: The Salt Road by Nalo Hopkinson )


Jan. 19th, 2010 06:55 pm
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[personal profile] sanguinity
We have a new sister community!

[livejournal.com profile] queerlit50 is modeled after [livejournal.com profile] 50books_poc, but with the mission to read and discuss books by queer authors: "lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, trans, intersex, genderqueer, asexual, MSM (men who have sex with men), SGL (same gender loving), two-spirit, third gender, and/or queer." (And if they've left anyone out, they would like you to drop them a comment and let them know!) [livejournal.com profile] paradox_dragon is the community mod, with [livejournal.com profile] staubundsterne and [livejournal.com profile] wysteria helping out with modly duties.

It's a brand-new community, which means that the only post they've got up right now is their FAQ (which ought to look familiar) -- if you've read something by a queer author lately, go help them get rolling by dropping some book or author recs!

... f'rinstance, queer authors of color, anyone? SGL authors? Two spirit authors? Third gender authors?

ETA: And whaddaya know? From [livejournal.com profile] zahrawithaz, for people who want to do both challenges: More Than 50 Books by Queer Authors of Color.
[identity profile] holyschist.livejournal.com
Additional tags: a: lo malinda

I don't really have a goal of 50 books this year (I read fewer than a hundred books total last year), but I'm trying to read more books by authors of color and queer authors this year, so I thought I'd start with this one as a step in both directions.

Short version: A bit too brief and simple for my preference and not the most exciting setting, but beautifully written and fun enough that I'll read Lo's next book.

Review is here! )


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