Category: Other Asian 5 out of 5s

Nguyen Phan Que Mai’s — The mountains sing *****

Nguyen Phan Que Mai’s — The mountains sing *****

Huong is the granddaughter of Grandma Dieu Lan who learns about the Tran family’s tragedies through her Grandmother. In the 1950s when the Land Reform committee arrived in their northern Vietnamese village, everything they own is stripped from the family and their lives are in danger. Grandma’s brother, Cong is murdered but the rest of the family escapes with help from a faithful employee. But Grandma is without money, and as she journeys to Hanoi, her children become separated. Once Grandma Dieu Lan has re-established her life, the U.S. war on Vietnam begins decades later and her home is destroyed by bombs. Can she start over again? Can she find her children missing once the war is over?

Banana Yoshimoto’s — Hardboiled/Hard luck & The Lake *****

Banana Yoshimoto’s — Hardboiled/Hard luck & The Lake *****

Hardboiled and Hard Luck are two novellas in one book. The first story has a supernatural element beginning with the story teller’s walk through a forest and arriving at her hotel in a small village. In the forest, she already has a sense that something strange is in the air. The second story finds Kuni in hospital on a ventilator with her sister remembering their past closeness and trying to come to terms with her eventual death. Continue reading “Banana Yoshimoto’s — Hardboiled/Hard luck & The Lake *****”

Han Kang’s — Human acts *****

Han Kang’s — Human acts *****

Through the voices of her characters, Han Kang recounts the Gwangju uprising against continued repressive South Korean governments from Park Chung-hee’s stronghold to Chun Doo-hwan — another army general who assassinated Park. The army is brought in and fires indiscriminately at demonstrators. Our journey begins with the collection of bodies and parents trying to identify their children. Decades later, we learn that the after effects of this tragedy still linger.

This is not a novel for the faint at heart. It hits hard with real facts, and the writing is powerful. I’m impressed by a translation that didn’t seem to water down the emotional repercussions or gory details.

Yangsze Choo’s — The ghost bride *****

Yangsze Choo’s — The ghost bride *****

Because Li’s father has lost his fortune in Malaysia, he reluctantly asks his daughter to become a ghost bride to a rich family whose son has recently died. While this is a strange arrangement, the marriage will mean she has a home for life.

This is a unique and strange tale of Li’s discovery of the spirit world around the secrets of both families.