Category: Other Asian 5 out of 5s

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.

Ana Johns’ — The woman in the white kimono *****

Ana Johns’ — The woman in the white kimono *****

In the 1950s when U.S. servicemen were based in Japan, Naoko meets a navy officer and they soon fall in love. Naoko arranges for the sailor to meet her parents, but her family are set on her marrying Satoshi who is from a respectable Japanese family. Marrying a gaijin would bring shame on the household. Decades later, when Tori’s father is on his deathbed back in the U.S., he hands her a letter addressed to Naoko that mentions their daughter. This note, and stories her father told her in childhood from his time in Japan, send Tori on a journey to Japan in search of a sister.

Min Jin Lee’s — Pachinko *****

Min Jin Lee’s — Pachinko *****

In the early 1900s when Sunja falls pregnant, she refuses to be mistress to a wealthy man she discovers is already married. Instead she accepts an offer of marriage from a minister, and they soon leave Korea for Japan.

This is a four generational tale exploring Japan’s attitude towards Koreans as well as the family’s struggles to survive. A compelling story. And I’ve decided to reblog this exceptional book because of the current controversy on Twitter over a Nike advertisement depicting racism in Japan.