A novel that is also a haiku. Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata takes place on the western coast of northern Japan where geography and climate conspire to create a mountainous landscape that gets more snow than any other place on earth. The small townships along the railway tracks that cut through the mountains survive on income from the few tourists who visit the local hot springs … Continue reading Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata
It’s very difficult for me to imagine let alone understand the animus that led to the partitioning of India and Pakistan in 1947 following the withdrawal of British authority from the subcontinent. The violence that accompanied partition defies understanding. One can only ask how could this happen without the expectation of an answer. To his credit, Amit Majmudar does not seek to explain that violence … Continue reading Parititions by Amit Majmudar
For many years now, I have taught Daoism as part of my 7th grade history unit on China. I wish I could call back my previous classes and correct all the mistakes and misrepresentations I have made over the years. Fortunately, what 7th graders take away from a lesson on Daoism isn’t all that deep, so I probably haven’t done much damage. Still. It’s symptomatic … Continue reading Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu Translated by D.C. Lau
I suppose I’m like most Americans in that I know little of Korea’s history. We know the war, at least the version of it we saw on television’s M*A*S*H, and the Korean miracle–the economic powerhouse South Korea has become. But anything in between, certainly the dark chapters many South Korean’s would like to keep buried, we don’t know. This has begun to rapidly change lately, … Continue reading Human Acts by Han Kang
What makes a book a classic? Lionel Shriver was a guest on my favorite BBC program A Good Read. You can listen to the program here. It was the dullest episode of my favorite program ever. Knowing something of what Ms. Shriver is like in person, I almost didn’t listen, but I thought I’d be open-minded, give it a try. The conceit of A Good … Continue reading Sunday Rant and Ramble: Lionel Shriver Makes me Mad; A New Cat Arrives; Tournament of Books Results
I’m going to stick to my guns here, enforce my long time rule for selecting the top ten list which is “Do I want to read this book again someday?” The answer must be yes to qualify. Which means there are many books that I loved reading that will not make the list. Lots of books are great books, great reads, but not something I’ll … Continue reading Top Ten Favorite Reads for 2016.
It’s not often that a book affects me as profoundly as Kyun-sook Shin’s award-winning novel Please Look After Mom did. As much as I read, books should do this to me more often. I’m still haunted by this story, by its characters, especially by its missing character, a week after reading it. I’ve passed it along to a good friend who has read the first section and … Continue reading Please Look After Mom by Kyun-sook Shin
This book did not count for Book Bingo. I was just four books away from having a blackout on my Book Bingo card when The Vegetarian arrived at my local public library. I loved it; I’m glad I read it; I’ll read it again; I didn’t understand it. Some of the reviews, maybe one quoted on the cover, have described The Vegetarian as Kafkaesque, specifically as homage to Franz … Continue reading The Vegetarian by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith