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books and literature

Literature

Review: Yiyun Li’s ‘Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life’

  In an interview with fivebooks.com, Yiyun Li discussed the concept of the ‘anti-memoir’. This term came around because, as Li put it in the interview, “[…] there has to be a ‘before’ and an ‘after’ – an epiphany. But to me, all these things are artificial. Life is lived in a much messier way.” This rather perfectly encapsulates the issue that Li, and many...

Review: The Accusation by Bandi

Translated by: Deborah Smith A Book of Such Importance It is difficult to know where to start when discussing a book like this. Smuggled one by one out of North Korea and into China as scribbled manuscripts, and here collected at last as a gorgeous hardcopy. Bandi’s collection of short stories, The Accusation, is not just a valuable insight into ordinary (read:...

Review: How Jung Chang’s Wild Swans Made Me A Better Laowai

Before I lived in Tokyo and Seoul, I lived in Shanghai. Expats and locals alike in Tokyo and Seoul have joked with me more than once about the harshness of Chinese culture and the unpleasantness of life there; jokes such as: ‘On the Seoul subway, keep your voice down. You don’t want to be a Chinese tourist!’ and ‘I know I could save more money living in China, but...

Review: Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen

Banana Yoshimoto | Translated by Megan Backus Every great novelist has pinned a theme to a punching bag and attempted to tackle it. And every theme has been tackled numerous times. ‘The lengths we go to for love’ as a theme, for example, has been thoroughly exhausted; this dead horse has been beaten black and blue by Mary Shelley, Emily Bronte, William Shakespeare...

Review: The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

Written by Hiro Arikawa | Translated by Philip Gabriel   Japanese authors often enjoy discussing books and writing in their fiction. They enjoy writing, and they also enjoy cats (something we cat lovers can rejoice in). Arikawa certainly isn’t the first Japanese author to celebrate the ways of the feline and follows in the footsteps of writers such as: Natsume...

How China Got Me Interested in North Korea

How did living in China start my North Korea fascination? The title of this article may lead you to believe that I hold fascist sympathies and have perfected my goose step, but that’s certainly not the case. In fact, despite my interest, I’ve decided I won’t visit North Korea via tour as I don’t want to support a corrupt regime. What has developed...

Review: The White Book by Han Kang

Written by Han Kang | Translated by Deborah Smith   Calling it The White Book feels reductive, almost wrong on purpose. Because The White Book is less a book and more an embracing feeling of familiarity. This book is something you live and feel, and all of this is created by its use of empty space. Han Kang has created a story unlike any I’ve read, but beyond...

Review: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami

Haruki Murakami | Translated by Jay Rubin “I leaned my head against the wall and closed my eyes. May Kasahara was probably right. This person, this self, this me, was made somewhere else. Everything had come from somewhere else, and it would all go somewhere else. I was nothing but a pathway for the person known as me Even I know that much, Mr Wind-up Bird. How come...

Review: Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami

Strange Weather in Tokyo | by Hiromi Kawakami |Translated by Allison Markin Powell. The twentieth century, and the end of World War II, saw a global shift in culture, technology, and economics never before experienced. One of the places hit hardest by this was Japan, which previously had one of the most vibrant and fascinating ancient cultures, brimming with ancient...