Back to Central America! I’m never gone very long, and that suits me just fine.
Looking forward to what will be a very interesting adventure, I’m sure.
It’s been my practice with this blog to just read one book per country, since I’m already walking this long path at a very slow pace. But not for Japan!
After really enjoying my first selection, which I found courtesy of OhioLINK, I decided to check out my own bookshelves. I’m definitely a proponent of tsundoku, a Japanese word that roughly translates to buying a lot of books and leaving them stacked up everywhere, unread. It’s not just a habit for me; it’s a lifestyle. Because of that, my search yielded many excellent choices, but I went with Shipwrecks by Akira Yoshimura, translated from the Japanese by Mark Ealey.
Stark is the main word I would use to describe this book. Mr. Yoshimura is a masterful writer; the chilly tone and repetitive scenes he puts to paper convey perfectly the experience of the protagonist, a young boy named Isaku. I’ve not quite experienced such brilliant use of language and structure like that in a novel; when I realized what he was doing, I almost stopped and clapped. The translator deserves a well-earned shout-out as well, for keeping that framework so beautifully intact.
As I often tell you at the end of my reviews, read this book!
So many choices for reading about Japan. Not only that, but I’ve already engaged with quite a few of the best known Japanese authors (Murakami, Ishiguro, Soseki, Kawabata), so that left me free to dig a little deeper. And I’m so glad I did.
The book I chose, Woman on the Other Shore by Mitsuyo Kakuta is just beautiful. It made me realize how rarely you encounter a real telling of relationships between women; friendships, daughters and mothers, coworkers – all of these can be so impactful, but we’re often left to navigate the emotions they bring up all by ourselves. I recommend this book wholeheartedly; it’s well worth your time.
I’m so excited about this next one that I’ve actually delayed digging in…why do some of us do those sorts of things to ourselves? Anyway.
I admit to a life-long obsession with Japan. My dad lived there for a few years before he married my mom, and some of my earliest memories are the stories he told me about it. He was in Gunma Prefecture, up in the mountains…tales of hot springs, the shrines, the villages…pretty much set the stage for the best daydreams for an already day-dreamy kid.
And yet, somehow, I still haven’t seen it all myself. That’s one of the reasons I’m so thrilled by Japan popping up as my pick now; 2017 is the year I hope to make the journey. An auspicious sign, yes?
Since speed is obviously not a thing with this blog, I might just linger here for awhile…