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Book 7
Title: 蟲と眼球とテディベア| Bug, Eyeball, Teddybear
Author: 日日日
Author Nationality and race: Japanese
Language: Japanese
Genre: Fiction
Length: novel
Subject: Fantasy
Summary: The ordinary life of a teacher and his student lover is abruptly interrupted by a girl who uses a spoon as a weapon. Then three of them are involved in an incident surrounding "The apple of God"
Review: As the beginning of a fantasy series, this novel captures my attention with its fast rhythm and intriguing mystery. I'll follow the series.
Link to

Book 8
Title: ジョニー・ザ・ラビット|Johnny Love Rabbit
Author: 東山彰良
Author Nationality and race: Japanese
Language: Japanese
Genre: Fiction
Length: novel
Subject: Fantasy Noir
Summary: "You should aim to be sahara if you are a flower; you should aim to be Johnny if you are a man."

  “Love is playing Italian folk song while holding a gun."
  "Love,the petrol to let me to be Johnny Rabbit,LOVE,my middle name that I 'll never regret.”

  Go! Johnny! Go! Go!
  What's love? What's pride? What's life?

Rabbit and hardboiled fiction seem to be two path that should never meet, but the author successfully creates Johnny Rabbit, who's a totally a hardboiled PI, a knight who walks on a mean street and a complete rabbit. It makes the story insightful. It has a bitter sense of humour, and a story that's among the good of noir.
Link to

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[personal profile] snowynight
Title: Ballad of a Shinigami
Author: K-Ske Hasegawa
Author Nationality and race: Japanese
Original language: Japanese
Publish place: Japan
Genre: Fiction
Length: novel
Subject: Fantasy

Amazon summary:Momo is a shinigami (a Grim Reaper), the messenger of death. Unlike the scary dark cloaked man holding a sickle, she is draped in gleaming white--her gown, sickle, hair and all. Accompanied by a black cat named Daniel, Momo takes up a mission to convey human souls to the Great Beyond. She appears before dying people and relieves them from their mortal fears, but she also comforts those who suffer the anguish of losing loved ones in tragedies.

Review: The summary doesn't do the book justice It's more a series of stories linked together by  Momo the shinigami. It sometimes deals with heavy subject such as family abuse but the tone's never overly maudlin. Recommended.

Link to the book on Amazon:

snowynight: Kino in a suit with brown background (Sailor Mercury)
[personal profile] snowynight
Title: Ghost Hunt  vol. 1
Author: Fuyumi Ono
Author Nationality and race: Japanese
Original language: Japanese
Publish place: Japan
Genre: Fiction
Length: novel
Subject: Fantasy

Amazon summary: Meet the members of the Shibuya Psychic Research Centre - an agency specialising in the investigation of paranormal activity...

Review: The beginning of the book is a bit slow, as it's mostly set up, but when I continue I'm hooked by the banter, the comedy and the solid mystery. I think I'll continue reading the series.

Link to Amazon

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[personal profile] snowynight
Title: Math Girls
Author: Hiroshi Yuki
Author Nationality and race: Japanese
Original language: Japanese
Publish place: Japan
Genre: Fiction
Length: novel
Subject: Math

Amazon summary: Combining mathematical rigor with light romance, Math Girls is a unique introduction to advanced mathematics, delivered through the eyes of three students as they learn to deal with problems seldom found in textbooks. Math Girls has something for everyone, from advanced high school students to math majors and educators.

Review: To be honest, I don't like additional maths such as calculus but it's recced to me because of fascinating female characters. It delivers maths, which I have mixed feeling about because of my own limitation and interesting female characters, which I just hope I can skip the middle man of the narrator to see more about their interaction. I''ll be looking forward to the sequel though.
Link: Math Girls on Amazon

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[personal profile] alias_sqbr
I stopped counting books when I realised it was making reading feel like a chore. While I've read a lot of manga I realised I'd never read any novels by Japanese people, so I decided to make a special effort to do so.

Under the cut:
Meanwhile by Jason Shiga
Aya by Margauerite Aboue
The Manga Guide to Databases by Mana Takahashi
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa
Twelve Kingdoms: Shadow of the Moon by Fuyumi Ono
Harboiled and Hard Luck by Banana Yoshimoto

Read more... )
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47: Mardock Scramble by Tow Ubukata

I'll be reviewing this at greater length elsewhere, and when I do I'll post a link here. For now I'll just say: this is a 775-page-long science fiction thriller, part of the Haikasoru line, set in the future city of Mardock, centring on the quest of Rune-Balot, former child prostitute, to retrieve the stored memories of the man who tried to kill her. It's a great big baggy rambunctious mess of a novel, occasionally glorious, often infuriating, full of wild shifts in tone and content. There are flying sharks. There's a gang of assassins who have the body parts of their victims surgically implanted on their bodies. There are many, many metaphors involving eggs. (E.g. the main characters are called Balot, Oeufcoque, Dr Easter, Shell, and Boiled. And there's a casino called Eggnog Blue and an egg-shaped flying home called the Humpty.)

I don't know if I recommend it, exactly; parts of it were enormous fun to read, parts were rather dull, and I don't know that it amounts to very much, all told. Still, it was an interesting ride.
ext_939: Sheep wearing an eyepatch (skywardprodigal Cog Flowers)
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13. The Young Inferno by John Agard and Satoshi Kitamura is a verse retelling of Dante's Inferno embedded in a picture book. I liked Kitamura's stark, black and white, art style but in the art-as-storytelling stakes it seemed to me to lack variety. It also clashed with one of the text's spelled out messages: "My teacher said, 'You've got a point. Quite right. / It just shows that neither beast nor man / can be divided into black and white.' " Except this is a black and white book in several senses. Agard's verse text didn't work for me as either narrative or poetry. (Note to self: don't read retellings of Christian morality stories unless they're specifically subversive in some way.) However, I'm probably about as far from the target audience of hoodie-clad schoolboys as it's possible to be so who cares about my opinion anyway? I just hope this isn't picked up from the teen, graphic novel, section of the library by a reluctant reader who is consequently discouraged further. Agard writes good poetry but this isn't it. Kitamura's first and second illustrations are both interesting as art, especially the way Our Hero is represented as a negative (in the photographic sense) of himself, but the only illustration which wholly won me over is the fossil landscape in illo 4.

14. Too Black, Too Strong by Benjamin Zephaniah is an extremely powerful collection of individually skillful and soulful poems. Ben is one of the most humane people I've met and it shows through in every word of his work. Most people know him as a Rastafarian lyricist who wrote that "funny" poem about turkeys and Christmas, and maybe as that political poet who refused to accept the Order of the British Empire he was awarded, or that black British man who was bereaved of a family member by police violence (although that describes too many people), but his work is so much more: witty, political, memorial, deeply spiritual, widely literary, and linguistically sophisticated. There are several example poems at my dw journal.

15. Fiere* by Jackie Kay is her latest, 2011, poetry collection. I've loved Kay's writing since the first time I encountered it, years ago. Amongst other forms, she's an extremely accomplished poet in both Scots** and English. Kay's poems aren't generally confessional (in the strictest literary sense of that word) but they do contain enough autobiography that I feel some minimum background aids understanding, and that's provided in the brief blurb on the back. Kay is multiracial, her mother was a Scottish Highlander and her father was a Nigerian Igbo. She was born in Edinburgh and raised by white Scottish adoptive parents. There are two example poems, the ecstasy and the agony of human relationships, at my dw journal.

* "fiere", Scots, meaning "companion/friend/equal"
** Scots, which is primarily related to English, not Scottish Gaelic which is a different language.

Tags: women writers, african-caribbean, black british, britain, british, british-african-caribbean, caribbean, black scottish, scottish, guyanese, poetry, japanese, biracial, multiracial, children's books, sf/fantasy, fiction, guyanese-british, igbo, young adult
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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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Last year I completed the [ profile] 50books_poc challenge, but I reviewed only a fraction of the books I read. So this year I'm going to make an effort to keep up, in order not to become overwhelmed by how far behind I am.

#1: Battle Royale by Koushun Takami (translated by Yuji Oniki)

The reason why you're all here today is to kill each other )
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Title: Mokuyou Kumikyoku (Thursday Suite)
Author: Onda Riku
Number of Pages: 247 pages
My Rating: 5/5

Jacket Summary: It's been four years since author Shigematsu Tokiko committed suicide. As they do every year, five women who were close to Tokiko gather at Nightingale House to remember her. Eriko writes non-fiction, Naomi writes popular fiction, Tsukasa writes literary fiction, Eiko is an editor, and Shizuko works for a publishing house. But a mysterious message turns their peaceful conversation into a storm of accusations and confessions. Did Tokiko really commit suicide, or was it murder...?

Review: Aaaages ago I was browsing tapes at the video store and this movie sounded interesting. I saw it was based on a book and thought I'd rather read the book than watch the movie, so I bought the book and then years and years passed and I never read it. Well, the other day I wanted a small book I could stick in my pocket while I was out running errands, and Japanese books are great for that, so I grabbed it off the shelf. I can't believe I took so long to get around to reading it, because it was really good! It was a bit of a slow starter, but I got really sucked in after a while and found it very hard to put down.

It's really not a traditional mystery at all, but there's a lot of intrigue and reveals, which I always like. Also, wow, this book passes the Bechdel Test like nobody's business. A lot of books about women still focus on them talking about guys all the time, but out of almost 250 pages I think there were maybe five pages tops that were about men. There was one convo about a male relative and one about a guy one of the women had been set up with (which was a hilarious convo, because she was talking about how she hates guys who think they're so feminist and awesome and say they split the housework with their wives when all they do is empty the trash occasionally and cook once in a while).

Anyway, I really enjoyed this and will definitely be looking for more books by her. She's written a ton and I'm sad to see that not a single one has been translated into English.
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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.
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41. Henry Yoshitaka Kiyama, The Four Immigrants Manga

This book is so freakin' awesome I can't even tell you. I love 20th-century memoir, I love San Francisco local history and I love graphic novels: The Four Immigrants Manga is a standout in all three categories. Even the tale of its rediscovery is freakin' awesome. Frederik L. Schodt was researching a book on Japanese manga in 1980 (how avant is THAT?) when he stumbled across this in a Berkeley library. It took another EIGHTEEN YEARS before his translation was published. Seriously, you should just go and read it right now. Schodt's translation is very clever and sensitive, with English and translated-Japanese rendered in different styles, so you always know where you are.

And the story itself, holy cow! It's the tale of the author, who came to San Francisco to study, and three friends he met on the boat. They land in 1904 and the book follows their lives for twenty years, so yes, there's a huge earthquake right up front, but in fact what happens after that is often even awesomer and stranger. (Hint: farm work is much harder than you think.) And it's funnier than hell. Can you tell that I liked it? The Four Immigrants Manga is one of those texts that reaches across a language barrier and a hundred years and shakes the teeth out of your head. It brings my beloved San Francisco to life in new ways. It should be required reading in California schools, and if it were, the kids would love it. BECAUSE IT'S GREAT.

42-3. Sanjay Patel, The Little Book of Hindu Deities and Ramayana: Divine Loophole

Actually all five of the books I'm reviewing today have strong links to the Bay Area, and that's because San Francisco is my adopted home and I love it like food. Go Giants! Patel is an animator at Pixar, across the Bay. I first encountered his Hindu-deity-art at his Web site, Ghee Happy, and I was one of many nagging him to just go publish a book already. Little Book is a useful reference, if you're like me and can't always keep your Gods straight, but Ramayana is an honest-to-God masterpiece. My husband read it to my daughters, aged 7 and 4, and they were spellbound by it every night. The illustrations are really beyond beautiful, and Chronicle Books has done a nice job with the binding: it's an object with heft and sheen, a desirable thing. Highly recommended, if only as a counterbalance to the Greek revival of the Percy Jackson series.

44. Jen Wang, Koko Be Good

Wang is another local graphic artist and Koko is not only set in San Francisco, like the great Wyatt Cenac film Medicine for Melancholy it's set in my San Francisco, south of Market Street, the San Francisco of beer at Zeitgeist and Al's Comics and the fog rolling in under Sutro Tower. It's intensely evocative and very good on random encounters and the strength of the relationships they can drag in their wake, especially for people in transition. If I found the ending both telegraphed and a bit unsatisfying, it's because I'm an extremely fussy old lady with brutally high standards in graphic novels. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it, and if you like it you will love Paul Madonna's sublime All Over Coffee.

45. Iris Chang, The Rape of Nanking

I've only just started reading this and it's going to take a while, because I will only read it during daylight, not while I am trying to go to sleep. Not since Truman Capote's In Cold Blood have I read anything that is quite so high-octane nightmare fuel, and for very much the same reasons: the killings it describes are real, random and purposeless, and the prose itself is beautiful, clear, organized and relentless.

One of the oldest cities of China, [Suchow] was prized for its delicate silk embroidery, palaces, and temples. Its canals and ancient bridges had earned the city its Western nickname as "the Venice of China." On November 19, on a morning of pouring rain, a Japanese advance guard marched through the gates of Suchow, wearing hoods that prevented the Chinese sentries from recognizing them. Once inside, the Japanese murdered and plundered the city for days, burning down ancient landmarks and abducting thousands of Chinese women for sexual slavery. The invasion, according to the China Weekly Review, caused the population of the city to drop from 350,000 to less than 500.
It's a controversial book - Wikipedia has some useful starting-points for a discussion of factual inaccuracies and disputed interpretations - and on the whole you'd probably rather not have it be the famous plagiarist Stephen Ambrose who declares you "one of the best of our young historians." But it is an important book, that helped revive the memory of Nanking in the West.

Chang took her own life in 2004, and I am sorry for the books of hers we will not get to read.
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Damn it, I keep forgetting to crosspost my reviews.

Title: Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo 4: Onibijima Satsujin Jiken
Author: Amagi Seimaru
Number of Pages: 318 pages
My Rating: 5/5

Jacket Summary: A murderer witnessed through a keyhole who disappears without a trace when the door is opened. An approaching tornado. And snow in the middle of summer... The stage for this tragedy is a cursed island that people call Onibijima...Will-o'-Wisp Island.

Review: I think my love for Kindaichi mysteries is pretty well established, and I don't really have much of anything new or different to say here. I love Kindaichi so I loved this book. :p It's not just that they're good mysteries (though they are), but I really love how the killer always has this heart-wrenching tale of why they had to kill all these people. No one kills for greed or just because they're a psychotic killer. They're always motivated by revenge against the people who wronged them or their friends/family and there's always this big heart-felt apology at the end. idk, I like the ~drama~. (Sadly, these novels and even most of the manga are only available in Japanese, though some of the manga was released in English and I highly recommend those as well.)

Title: The Icarus Girl
Author: Helen Oyeyemi
Number of Pages: 338 pages
My Rating: 4/5

Jacket Summary: Jessamy "Jess" Harrison, age eight, is the child of an English father and a Nigerian mother. Possessed of an extraordinary imagination, she has a hard time fitting in at school. It is only when she visits Nigeria for the first time that she makes a friend who understands her: a ragged little girl named TillyTilly. But soon TillyTilly's visits become more disturbing, until Jess realizes she doesn't actually know who her friend is at all.

Review: I really enjoyed this a lot. I took it with me the other day to my doctor's appointment and ended up reading two-thirds of it on the bus and while waiting. It was definitely a good choice for being stuck out for a long time with no other options. It sucked me in right away and I found it hard to put down.

Apparently the author wrote this while still at school, and it does show, but it's still overall really well-written. The biggest annoyance to me was POV slippage here and there and stuff like how the entire book is from Jess's POV except for one random paragraph from her friend's POV, and then the last two chapters are her parents' POV (that choice at least has a good reason; the paragraph in the friend's POV was unnecessary and tell-y).

I have another of her books on my wishlist and I'm looking forward to reading it.

Title: Naming Nature: The Clash Between Instinct and Science
Author: Carol Kaesuk Yoon
Number of Pages: 344 pages
My Rating: 4/5

Jacket Summary: In Naming Nature, Yoon takes us on a guided tour of science's brilliant, if sometimes misguided, attempts to order and name the overwhelming diversity of earth's living things. We follow a trail of scattered clues that reveals taxonomy's real origins in humanity's distant past. Yoon's journey brings us from New Guinea tribesmen who call a giant bird a mammal to the trials and tribulations of patients with a curious form of brain damage that causes them to be unable to distinguish among living things. Finally, Yoon shows us how the reclaiming of taxonomy will rekindle humanity's dwindling connection with wild nature.

Review: I did not previously have any interest in taxonomy before picking this up, or really much interest in nature at all. But I happened to see it on the shelf at the library and it sounded interesting, so I decided to give it a go. I'm glad I did, because it really is interesting and written in a very engaging way. One thing that bugged me, though, was that she went on and on and on about how wonderful Carl Linneaus was and I would have liked for her to at least touch on the fact that not only did he order plants and animals, but also humans (with whites at the top, natch).
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33: Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour by Bryan Lee O'Malley

The sixth and final instalment of the Scott Pilgrim series is just as deliriously funny and clever as the first five, but with an added zing of metafictional deconstruction: turns out, the fact that Scott is a ditzy, self-centred manchild is not an oversight on O'Malley's part. It's the point, and the manner in which this fact is examined and played with and explained and overturned in this climactic volume is an utter delight. Marvellous.

34: Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi

In which a man decides to die, and does so, over eight days, while his wife and brother and children try to persuade him to live. This is good work which I enjoyed, up to a point, but I can't help comparing it to Satrapi's Persepolis and Embroideries, and I don't think it comes off well in the comparison. Although the storytelling and characterisation and observation are as thoughtful and well-executed as before, the art seems a little less polished, not quite as assured. It's always attractive and it never interferes with the story, but it's not as good a standard as I know Satrapi is capable of, which is disappointing.

35: Love Water by Venio Tachibana (with illustrations by Tooko Miyagi)

This is a BL/yaoi novel from Juné Manga's light novel line. To be honest, I've read quite a few of the novels from that line, and I only wrote up the first two I read for this comm. The others I passed by because they were so inconsequential and generic (when they weren't offensive) that I couldn't be bothered writing about them. Love Water is written to a rather higher standard. It's not a genre-transcender by any means -- if you don't like romance novels or BL in particular, Love Water's not likely to change your mind. But as an example of the genre, I found it very effective; atmospheric and emotionally intense, with gorgeous illustrations and a plot that made sense; and it's a lot better-written than most. (And better translated, too, though there are a few irritating glitches -- I suspect that the love interest's "flocked coat" is actually a frock coat. Easy mistake to make if you're not well up on 19th-century European men's fashions.)

I actually kind of want to gush like an overexcited teenager about this novel, because I loved it. But I will restrain myself! I will just say that it is about a beautiful young man who works in a brothel (but not as a prostitute) in Meiji-era Osaka and falls in love with a rich and handsome young entrepreneur; and if you like this sort of thing, this is very much the sort of thing you'll like.
ext_22487: Fangirl and proud (Default)
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9.After Dark - Haruki Murakami
If this book was a film, it'd be a film noir and in french. They'd film it in New York or Tokyo or maybe even London but everyone would be speaking French and making existential asides. It's a tale of love and hate, inexplicable events and incomprehensible motives. It leaves the reader going, yes but why and how? But that's not really important, it's enigmatic yet engaging and strangely that's enough. I could imagine a Raymond Chandler-esque voiceover talking about 'the city' as I read this and for all that the story was set in Tokyo it could have been anywhere, any big faceless city after the trains have stopped running and the night people seeped out of the shadows. Perhaps it struck me more because the last few books I'd read before it had been Chinese and had a very strong sense of place, that in contrast the location of this story felt very maleable and interchangeable. I'm not sure but that was certainly my impression.

10.The Enchantress of Florence - Salmon Rushdie
I like Salman Rushdie's books but there's just something about them that stops me from loving them whole-heartedly. The Enchantress of Florence is labyrinthine in plot and gorgeously intricately detailed in terms of historical and cultural settings and touches. Many of the locations and anecdotes were described so clearly that I could picture them clearly in my head. It looses momentum in the middle somewhat, though it picks up again towards the end (first half definitely better than the second). Maybe just the story the protagonist tells has been built up so much, and is strung out so much by him that it can't live up to its reputation? It's a good book certainly, I just can't shake the feeling that it could have been better.

11.Same Earth - Kei Miller
This was something of a relief after all the tomes I've been reading lately, I devoured this little book on the commute to my temp job in only two days. Which is always nice when your pile of library books is starting to look threatening. I really enjoyed the style this book's written in, there was a real lightness of touch to the way it dealt with complex issues without leaving the reader bogged down by them. The use of language (the vernacular if you will) seems to give it a life and a character all of its own, as though the force of the characters' personality has shaped the very language to their will, made it do extra work. Strangely it reminded me of poems and stories I read at school in Scots: all Calvinist hypocrisy and tales of wee villages loosing their sons and daughters first to the city and then disappearing across the Atlantic in search of a better life... (Though, maybe, that's actually the point he's trying to make about us all being on the same earth) No doubt that helped me warm to the story, but it is nonetheless charming, if a little idiosyncratic and I enjoyed it.

12.The Glass Palace - Amitav Ghosh
One of my hopes for this challenge was to find new authors to love, and I knew by the time I was half-way through The Hungry Tide that I wanted to read everything Amitav Ghosh had ever written. The Glass Palace is completely different from that book but I loved it nonetheless. There's one of those review blurbs on the front of the copy I read that calls it Dr Zhivago for the Indian subcontinent, and while I haven't actually read Dr Zhivago that description probably gives you the idea of the epic scale of this book. Personally I love big historical epics especially ones where the author has a personal investment in the events. Also I tend to avoid those kind of books set outside of Europe due to all the skeevy colonial issues, but the advantage of this book is that it unpacks a lot of those issues in really interesting and helpful ways. I would have liked a bit more on early post-Independence India given how much we get earlier on about Uma's involvement in the Independence movement but I wouldn't have traded the Burma in the 90s section for that even if those 50 years in between seem a tad skimmed over.

Suggested Tags: Indian, Jamaican, Japanese, Indian-british
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21: On Two Shores by Mutsuo Takahashi (English tr. Mistuko Ohno & Frank Sewell)

This is a bilingual edition of new and selected poems by Takahashi, a distinguished Japanese poet who uses both modern and traditional forms. I was especially interested in this volume because it's published by an Irish publisher, Dedalus, and some of the poems were inspired by the poet's visit to Ireland in 1999, where, according to the introduction (and the poem "Faith"), he rediscovered his faith in poetry and in the future.

As an Irish reader, I found the Ireland-inspired poems in this collection intensely moving -- I'm used to seeing the pictures of Ireland reflected through outsiders' eyes and not recognising it, whether the picture is positive or negative; but Takahashi's Ireland, an Ireland of poets and abandoned railway stations and urban foxes, is familiar to me, and strange at the same time, like a photograph taken from an atypical angle.

There are earlier poems in this collection too, and they show the same insight and the same gift at capturing a moment in an image as the Ireland poems; but they betray a sense of fear, and in particular a fear of time, as in "The Letter":

I am writing a letter
addressed to you.
as I write,
you who will read the letter
don't exist yet;
and when you read the letter,
I who wrote it
won't exist anymore.
A letter suspended
between someone who doesn't exist yet
and someone who doesn't exist anymore --
does it really exist?

(I have trouble writing about poetry; I always feel my words are too clumsy for it. I really liked this book.)
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Title: Shaman King
Author: Mitsui Hideki
Number of Pages: 220 pages
My Rating: 1.5/5

Wow, what a waste of time this book was. It is basically a retelling of the early volumes of Shaman King with a tiny bit of new content tacked on at the end. Seriously, while the jacket flap promised a new character exclusive to the novelisation (which is why I bought it, because I only wanted to read it if it was an original story, not a retelling of the manga), it was only about the last twenty pages that contained any new content.

I'm not sure who would be a good audience for this book, because it ends with a "to be continued" sort of vibe that means you're going to have to go read the manga to find out what happens to Yoh and Amidamaru and Manta and Anna and Ren and the whole Shaman Fight thing, but when you do, you'll be retreading old ground if you start from the beginning of the manga. And yet as a fan of the manga, it's really redundant.

I do, however, highly recommend the manga of Shaman King, which unlike this book has actually been released in English and is therefore more accessible to readers of this comm, I'm sure. Even though it has a non-ending ending, it's still worth it, IMO.
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Title: Naruto: Takigakure no Shitou Ore ga Eiyuu Datteba yo!
Author: Kusakabe Masatoshi
Number of Pages: 222 pages
My Rating: 1.5/5

Naruto and the gang are on a mission to escort the head of Takigakure Village back home, but not long after they arrive, the village falls under attack. Kakashi has been called back to Konoha, so it's up to Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura to save the day.

I'm a big fan of Naruto, but this was really boring. Part of my problem was that this was set really early on and so it felt weird going back to when they were younger. I forgot how clueless Naruto was about everything and how annoying Sakura was with her Sasuke obsession (though unsurprisingly, she hardly had any role in the story, especially once the fighting got going). But mostly it was just a boring story that didn't need to be 200 pages long. :p

I read it in Japanese, but it's also been released in English under the title Mission: Protect the Waterfall Village! (The link above goes to the English version on Amazon.)

Mooch from BookMooch.


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