Category: Other Asian 5 out of 5s

Asha Lemmie’s — Fifty words for rain

Asha Lemmie’s — Fifty words for rain

A few years after the end of WW11, Noriko stands at the entrance to her grandmother’s mansion in Kyoto. Her mother has driven away, and she has no choice but to enter the property with her few belongings. Her grandmother hides her in the attic where she is ordered to stay and not venture into any other part of the house. No one should see her because she is an illegitimate child to an American father ruining the family’s prestigious name. When she is ten, her half-brother, Akiri arrives after his father’s death and her lonely life begins to improve, but will their stern grandmother allow Noriko to escape her seclusion?

Gail Tsukiyama’s — The samurai’s garden *****

Gail Tsukiyama’s — The samurai’s garden *****

In early 1938 Stephan is ill and leaves Hong Kong for Tarumi where he stays in his parents’ seaside Japanese house to recuperate. At first, he feels isolated in the village and finds Matsu who tends to his needs, too reserved, but as his health improves so does his relationship with Matsu. While he swims in the sea or paints, Stephan-san grows concerned as Japan invades China and its armies rampage south. But he forgets these worries when Matsu introduces him to his friend, Sachi who lives in Yamaguchi, a mountainside village for lepers. As the year draws to a close, is it safe for Chinese to remain in Japan? Will he be able to part from the close relationships he’s formed with Matsu and Sachi?

Krys Lee’s — How I became a North Korean *****

Krys Lee’s — How I became a North Korean *****

This is the haunting story of Danny (Daehan), Yongju and Jangmi. Desperate to avoid his U.S. school where he is an outcast because he is Chinese, Danny leaves his father and flies to China to stay with his mother. But when he discovers her living with another man, he wanders aimlessly close to the border with North Korea.

Yongju and Jangmi have both escaped separately from North Korea to China, and meet up with Danny and a band of other North Koreans hiding in a cave. They are rescued by a Christian pastor who holds them captive. He indoctrinates them into the Christian faith, promising he’ll help them leave China for a safe third country. But will he? 

This novel is a powerful insight into life in North Korea and the dangers that lurk across the boarder into China from those who profit from runaway North Koreans.

Sara Bird’s — Above the East China Sea *****

Sara Bird’s — Above the East China Sea *****

Luz James feels lost. She’s been shifted from pillar to post since childhood because of her mother’s job. Now she’s in Okinawa, a tiny group of islands that belong to Japan. She’s already lost the grandmother she loved, but when she loses her closest friend, her sister, Luz can’t hold it together. She hangs out with a group every night to get high. On one of those nights she wanders off and encounters something that leads her on a path to discover her unknown family and the Okinawan women whose secret she discovers.

This is not only a great tale, but the historical setting with flashbacks to a young Okinawa school girl during the war reveals a lot about the Japanese and their prejudice towards the people of these islands.