This March marks the 25th anniversary of Brain Awareness Week and we’ll be celebrating by sharing useful information, books, and resources from across the OUP publishing catalogue.
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A book set in Japan, host of the 2020 Olympics.
A book recommended by your favorite podcast (Pop Culture Happy Hour).
A book with bronze, silver, or gold in the title.
A book with a great first line.
A book with an upside-down image on the cover.
My History Book Club from Goodreads has challenged us to read 5 books set in or about Japan or written by Japanese authors. Here's my journey.
Set in post World War II Japan, I was struck by the difference in tone, from the alternative histories I have read. It contained just a handful of words that don't translate to English that sent me looking for a dictionary.
Otsuka uses an unorthodox writing style to tell the stories of a group of Japanese "mail order brides" that leave Japan for California around 1900. Their lives in California are hard. Many longed to return home when confronted with their husbands duplicity, but couldn't. They fit in neither world. Their stories end with their entrance to the internment camps of World War II.
In A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki ties together the stories of a Japanese American author living in British Columbia and a Zen Buddhist nun who lives in a convent high in the mountains of Japan. Connecting them is the the story of the nun's great granddaughter, a California-raised Japanese teenager now adjusting to living to in Japan.
Kitchen follows a young woman through a traumatic time of her life losing both her grandmother and her surrogate mother. She finds solace in the kitchen which leads her to follow this passion in her professional life. When we first meet Mikage she is alone and adrift following the unexpected death of her grandmother when we leave her she is older, wiser, with a new "family" and following her passion for cooking.
Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata left me a little baffled. Set in one of the snowiest places of the world in Japan, it tells the story of geisha and her always returning companion from Tokyo. His many trips north all ran together leaving the story disjointed to the point that I had trouble following it at times. (first published on Goodreads)