January in Japan | Readathon Wrap-Up

Those of you following along in my stories last weekend will have seen I spur of the moment decided to join in on the #januaryinjapan 10-in-4 readathon hosted on Bookstagram. So I figured I’d go over how my reading/listening went!

First up, I listened to Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (translated by Ginny Talley Takemori), which follows a woman who has worked this part-time job her entire adult life. The book absolutely skewers the societal norms that won’t let Keiko just live her life without trying to “cure her” with marriage or a career. I definitely hope for more of this author’s quirky work gets translated (one coming this year I believe)

Next I picked up my first ever manga with My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame (translated by Anne Ishii). This is a slice of life story that follows a single dad who gets a surprise visitor after his estranged twin brother dies: his husband. You see Yaichi confront engrained homophobia but also see his daughter Kana welcome Mike with open arms. My only “complaint” is that the story didn’t seem to have much of an arc from chapter to chapter or even in this first volume. I found out later it was a serialized story, so that probably attributes to the kind of flat storytelling. Not a fault of the book, just not what I’m used to. Still highly recommend, and I have the next volume on hold.

Next up, I listened to If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamura (translated by Eric Sellend). It follows a man who makes a deal with the devil to extend his life by one day in exchange for removing one thing from the world. This one had similar quirks as CSW, like the devil being a doppelgänger of our narrator in a Hawaiian shirt and a talking cat, but in the end was a bit too saccharine for my tastes. But its fable-like qualities are bound to be a hit for a non-cynic unlike myself.

And finally, I finished the weekend with short-story collection The Lonesome Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya (translated by Asa Yoneda). Like most collections, there were hits and misses here. But a few of these stories were just the right mix of speculative and cultural critique that were phenomenal!

Overall, I really enjoyed my weekend of packed with Japanese fiction in translation. It has just solidified my goal to prioritize more non-western writing through the year (and not isolated to readathons) Last year I only read a handful of works in translation (and those were from Swedish and Spanish), so there’s much more out there just waiting for me to seek it out and enjoy!

Review of “Room” by Emma Donoghue

room coverHello, everyone!

I’d like to start out with a little back-story with this book up for my review.

I was strolling through my Books-a-Million passing the time waiting for the excruciatingly slow city bus to come. It was extremely masochistic of me, surrounding myself with books; it was nearing the end of the month, so I barely had money left in my budget. Bibliophiles and stretched college funds just don’t mix, people! Continue reading “Review of “Room” by Emma Donoghue”

Review of “This is Where I Leave You” by Jonathan Tropper

This is where i leave youI bought “This is Where I Leave You” by Jonathan Tropper for three reasons:

  1. I had $4 left on a gift card to Books-a-Million and the book had an attractive $3 sale sticker on the cover.
  2. I liked the aforementioned cover
  3. That aforementioned cover said New York Times Bestseller on it.

Reading the book a few weeks later I find that it’s about a dysfunctional family — my favorite. Judd Foxman’s dad has just lost his battle with cancer, which bring his family together for the first time in years. And when I say “together,” I mean in vicinity (definitely not emotionally). Continue reading “Review of “This is Where I Leave You” by Jonathan Tropper”

Review of “The Illicit Happiness of Other People” by Manu Joseph

Illicit featured imageThe Illicit Happiness of Other People” by Manu Joseph

OK, first a little bit of plot summary:

The Chacko family is one with a tragic past. Unni Chacko, a very talented cartoonist, is only 17 years old when he falls from the family’s third floor balcony. Reality has it that he didn’t just fall — he jumped.

Flash forward three years to Ousep Chacko, a washed up, old journalist who staggers home every night and yells drunken slurs for the whole block to hear. Depending on your psychological outlook, he may seem like a father who doesn’t care or a father who cares deeply. Nevertheless, when he receives a long-lost comic that Unni had mailed to an unknown recipient the day “he did what he did,” Ousep starts questioning everyone in Unni’s mysterious life in an attempt to answer the riddle of his son’s death.

Continue reading “Review of “The Illicit Happiness of Other People” by Manu Joseph”