Archive for the ‘Japan’ Category

A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING by Ruth Ozeki

How do a century-old modern-thinking Buddhist nun, a WW II kamikaze pilot, a bullied 16-year-old Japanese schoolgirl on the verge of suicide, her suicidal father, a struggling memoirist on a remote island of British Columbia, Time, Being, Proust, language, philosophy, global warming, and the 2011 Japanese tsunami connect?

In this brilliantly plotted and absorbing, layered novel, one can find the theme in a quote from Proust, quoted by Ozeki:

“In reality, every reader, while he is reading, is the reader of his own self.”

January 27, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: 2013 Favorites, 2013 Man Booker Shortlist, Coming-of-Age, Contemporary, Japan, Literary, Unique Narrative

NEUROMANCER by William Gibson

One of the rare books to wear the coveted triple-crown of science-fiction, winning all three major prizes in the genre (the Hugo, Phillip K. Dick, Nebula awards), as well as being included on Time Magazine’s 1995 list, “All TIME 100 Best Novels,” it isn’t hyperbolic to claim that William Gibson’s 1983 classic, NEUROMANCER, is a must-read in our world of ubiquitous WI-FI, 24-hour connectedness, and the Blue Brain reverse engineering project, a world in which a recent Time magazine cover claimed The Singularity would be upon is in less than 40 years.

August 21, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Classic, Debut Novel, Hugo Award, Japan, Nebula Award Winner, Philip K. Dick Award, Scifi, y Award Winning Author

THE TYPIST by Michael Knight

Only those who fully venerate war can think of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima as a glorified event. Indeed, many fictional books that are set in post-Hiroshima reconstruction are filled with vivid, colorful and poignant descriptions.

So it comes as a surprise that Michael Knight’s THE TYPIST is such a gentle book. It is devoid of precisely what one might expect in a book set in the wake of World War II: no brow-beating, no heart-wrenching, no intrusive authorial political statements.

August 9, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Character Driven, Coming-of-Age, Facing History, Japan, Literary, World Lit

SATORI by Don Winslow

SATORI, by Don Winslow, is a prequel to the best-selling thriller, SHIBUMI, by Trevanian. Trevanian introduced the world to Nicholai Hel, master of hodo korusu, “the naked kill.” Hel speaks six languages, is a master of the game “Go,” and has a special proximity sense – the ability to detect when any person or thing is nearby. As SATORI opens in 1951, the Korean war is in full swing and the Americans have had Nicholai in solitary confinement for three years for the honor killing of his beloved stepfather, General Kishikawa.

March 7, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: China, Japan, Korea, Thriller/Spy/Caper, y Award Winning Author

THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET by David Mitchell

THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET is quite simply the best historical novel I have read in years, Tolstoyan in its scope and moral perception, yet finely focused on a very particular place and time. The place: Dejima, a Dutch trading post on a man-made island in Nagasaki harbor that was for two centuries Japan’s only window on the outside world. The time: a single year, 1799-1800, although here Mitchell takes the liberties of a novelist, compressing the events of a decade, including the decline of the Dutch East India Company and Napoleon’s annexation of Holland, into a mere twelve months. He plays smaller tricks with time throughout the novel, actually, alternating between the Japanese calendar and the Gregorian one, then jumping forwards and backwards between chapters. The effect is to heighten the picture of two hermetic worlds removed from the normal course of history.

August 28, 2010 · Judi Clark · 4 Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Commonwealth Prize, Facing History, Japan, Literary, y Award Winning Author

THE CHANGELING by Kenzaburo Oe

Fractal designs, such as used to be popular twenty years ago, have the property that any part of them replicates the whole in miniature. If you zoom in on even the tiniest detail, you can reach an understanding of the entire shape. This analogy occurs to me after reading THE CHANGELING by Kenzaburo Oe, a late work by the Japanese Nobel Laureate, and so far the only thing by him that I have read. Where most novels have a linear narrative behind them, this one reads as a series of one-sided conversations, thoughts about literature and other arts, buried memories, and some bizarre incidents — all generally minor in themselves, but each seemingly endowed with immense hidden significance, each a clue to some overall design that only gradually emerges as the various details replicate and mirror one another.

August 16, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Japan, Nobel Prize for Literature, Translated, Unique Narrative, World Lit, y Award Winning Author