A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Review Summary  In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying, but before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in a …

The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto

Summary [The Lake] tells the tale of a young woman who moves to Tokyo after the death of her mother, hoping to get over her grief and start a career as a graphic artist. She finds herself spending too much time staring out her window, though … until she realizes she’s gotten used to seeing …

The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng

Review Summary As you settle into the first page of The Garden of Evening Mists, Tan Twan Eng and his majestic prose will gently transport you into a painfully beautiful past. It’s Malaya, 1949. After studying law at Cambridge and time spent helping to prosecute Japanese war criminals, Yun Ling Teoh, herself the scarred lone survivor of …

A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton

Pikadon, translated literally, comes from the Japanese words pika, meaning brilliant light, and don, meaning boom. It is the word used to describe the moment when the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan during World War II, and it is the black hole around which the story of A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding revolves. In this novel, the …

Thursday Quotables: The Garden of Evening Mists

Many people who know me, especially those who know me as an academic, know that I am obsessed with memory studies. Memory, to me, is a beautiful facet of the human condition. It helps us navigate our own identities, to create who we are, and to connect to other people. We learn how to remember, …

Thursday Quotables: A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding

 As those of you who read my Sunday Post know, I’ve been slowly working my way through Jackie Copleton‘s A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding. Even though it’s totally my style, both in terms of the quietness of the writing and the subject matter, it hasn’t really been grabbing me. That probably has more to do with my …

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende

This book was awarded my May 2016 Best of the Bunch Award! When my grandfather was alive, I used to visit him in the retirement home where he had an apartment. My mother, however, lived with him there for a time, and visited him far more often than I ever could. She helped to decorate …

The Woman in the Dunes, by Kobe Abe

Imagine a world enveloped in endless waves of sand. You find yourself, somehow, held hostage in an eerie village pocked with cavernous sand pits, tasked day in and day out with shoveling back the encroaching sand. The sand never stops flowing; it rots your skin and crusts in your throat as you sleep. There is …