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Reviews

A Girl on the Shore: Beauty in Broken Things

Inio Asano is a mangaka best known for being one of the manga world’s smartest and boldest creators. His series Goodnight Punpun is an oft-touted masterpiece that taps into the tragedy of growing up lost and frightened. It’s a series that represents the literary highs which manga can (and often does) achieve. But if you …

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Review: The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida by Clarissa Goenawan

Published by Scribe Clarissa Goenawan is an Indonesian-born, Singaporean author who has so far penned two novels, both set in Tokyo and both reminiscent of supernatural romance and drama manga, as well as the novels of Haruki Murakami. The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida is a subtly fantastical story, driven by themes of love, loss, …

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Review: Tales from the Cafe by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Translated from the Japanese by Geoffrey Trousselot Tales from the Cafe Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s original Before the Coffee Gets Cold, an adaptation of his own stage play, was one of the best-selling novels of 2019. A sweet, goofy, novel with heart to spare. We called it “unapologetically awkward and campy, but it is full of soul, …

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Review: No Presents Please by Jayant Kaikini

No Presents Please Translated from the Kannada by Tejaswini Niranjana Published by Tilted Axis Press I love big, sprawling, bustling cities. I love the way they constantly shift and change, never staying the same from one year to the next. I love the electric energy, the speed of life, and the background hum that never …

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Review: Dead Girls by Selva Almada

In 2019, the English translation of Selva Almada’s The Wind That Lays Waste (translated by Chris Andrews) was Books and Bao’s favourite translated novel of the year. Twelve months later, we’re already gifted another sharp and cutting Almada book, once again published by Charco Press: Dead Girls, translated by Annie McDermott. Dead Girls is a …

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Review: Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami

Mieko Kawakami is already a superstar author in her native Japan. A philosophical and feminist powerhouse of beautiful prose, interwoven with discussions on death, birth, womanhood, growth, and change. She is now a rising star in the English language, too, thanks to translations of works like Ms. Ice Sandwich from Pushkin Press (tr. Louise Heal …

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Review: A Lover’s Discourse by Xiaolu Guo

Xiaolu Guo needs no introduction. Born in a Zhejiang fishing village, studied in Beijing, moved to London in 2002. Guo has directed several movies and documentaries since moving to the UK, and is perhaps best known for her novel A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers and her memoir Once Upon a Time in the East, …

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Review: People From My Neighbourhood by Hiromi Kawakami

Hiromi Kawakami has made a name for herself as a writer with a defined sense of time and place, and how these forces change us. In Strange Weather in Tokyo, her lovers represent two periods of Japan’s history and how they must court one another in the present. In The Ten Loves of Nishino, ten …

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Review: The Beast Warrior by Nahoko Uehashi

In the afterword of The Beast Warrior, Nahoko Uehashi writes that the book’s prequel, The Beast Player, “was like a beautiful closed circle”, that it didn’t require a sequel. After reading both books, one immediately after the other, it’s impossible to agree with that statement. The Beast Warrior not only feels like a true successor …

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