Country #55: The Marshall Islands

Oceania! I’m back, happy to be here, and ready to learn about the Marshall Islands.
Coolest flag ever, BTW.

Reading Mauritius: The Last Brother

This is such a good book. I love it, without reservations.

If you’ve been following this blog, you already know I don’t do full reviews. I’m not going to tell you much about what happens, or offer critiques from a literary standpoint…none of that. Those restrictions make for some awkward going sometimes, but it’s the only fair way to log this journey and share what I’ve learned, while at the same time giving you all the freedom to uncover these books in your own way.

So, I’ll keep this brief, even though I could ramble on for hours…the author, Nathacha Appanah, has managed to put into words all of the intensity and ferocity of love, and of loss. It was so recognizable and yet so often unseen, it took my breath away.

It’s that good. That’s all I’m going to say.

You’ll also learn some really interesting, not-talked-about-much history, but that’s for you to find out…

Sugar Cane Near Long Mountain
Sugar Cane Near Long Mountain (image by Simisa, via Wikimedia Commons)

Reading South Korea: Drifting House

When I was doing research for South Korean literature, I came across a list in Vanity Fair of  5 Korean Novels You Should Read.  One of the first things said was “these aren’t Beach Reads”. And indeed – they are NOT.  I’m going to take their advice and run with it anyway; three of the five recommendations are sitting in my living room.  First up: Drifting House, by Krys Lee.

This book kicked my ass. The long-lasting devastation of war. The destruction, down to the family level, of a nation torn apart. What it means to be an immigrant, and then again the next level of being a first-generation kid, carrying all that weight and more. This collection of short stories digs in deep, grabs you by the collar and doesn’t let go. There were moments of wanting to put it down, to just return it to the library and find something else easier to digest, but nope. The author manifested this unflinching thing, and it was on me to stay. Even though it wasn’t always easy, it was entirely worth it.

Seoul at Night
Seoul at Night (image by KLuwak , via Wikimedia Commons)

Reading Turks and Caicos: Looking Back in Salt Cay: Preserving Our Life, Our History, Our Legacy

I’ve been at this blog long enough to kind of predict my reading choices before I start research on a new country. When beachy island nations are on deck, it often means travel guides, or books written by expats or people passing through. Nothing wrong with any of that, but not quite what I’m looking for. But! Turks and Caicos delivers more!

Looking Back in Salt Cay: Preserving Our Life, Our History, Our Legacy by Patronella “Peggy” Been is a personal, candid view into life on Salt Cay, one of the more lightly-inhabited islands in the Turks and Caicos group. It’s like a family conversation at Christmas about how life was back in the day, and just the kind of book I always hope to find. Getting a glimpse into the basics of real life – what the houses where like, what people ate, how they shopped, what toys the kids played with – doesn’t happen every day.

Salt Cay’s fortunes have changed over the last 40 years, and the author lives on one of the other islands now. It was hard to even find a usable (copyright matters, people!) photo of that island, so I chose one of the island I was supposed to visit earlier this year…so lovely!

 

Shore of North Caicos
Shore of North Caicos (image by Dirk 2112, via Wikimedia Commons)