Asian Readathon 2020 Wrap-Up

5/30/2020


Joining in on the Asian Readathon run by Cindy for the duration of May (Asian Pacific American Heritage Month) was quite the whirlwind. I only managed to read a handful of books as holds I had at my library didn't come through in time (i'm still crying). However, the books I did mange to get to were mainly 5 star reads. Without further ado, let's discuss them. 

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
by Jamie Ford
This is a quiet but poignant WWII novel about certain aspects of the war that we don't often read about. Following two different time periods, one in the past and one in present day, we learn of the life of Henry, an American-Chinese living in Seattle. As a young boy he befriends an American-Japanese girl whose family is struggling as the Nazi reign is beginning to show in their hometown. An adult Henry, however, is in the mourning process of his wife. His days are bland. That is until a local hotel owner digs out artifacts of the past from the basement. Is the object that Henry longs to once again see down there, hidden in a box? I found this novel fascinating as, like I said, this isn't necessarily the story people write about when WWII is the backdrop. Usually we get put right in there at Auschwitz, especially in the more popularized books like The Nightingale and, yes, The Tattooist of Auschwitz. This never felt overly historical, at times it even felt like a contemporary. I think reading about the war through the eyes of a child lessened the impact of the ugliness that was going on around him. If you like books set around WWII or simply want to dip your toes into the historical fiction pool but don't want to jump in, I'd wholeheartedly recommend this novel.


Severance 
by Ling Ma
Candace Chen is feeling unfulfilled in her life - her job as a bible product coordinator is a far cry from the art route she wanted her career to take, her uninspired relationship seems to be ending, and she's just a little lost. Then a viral fever takes out half the world and she's left alone. This synopsis sounds interesting, right? Sadly, this entire book was a case of great idea but poor execution, at least for me. I felt so jarred throughout this book as it kept jumping between timelines while trying to tie everything together. Candace isn't meant to be likable, but god, she was borderline insufferable. 

The Vegetarian
by Han Kang
When a woman decides to go Vegetarian it sets off a chain of events in both her and her family's life. I started listening to this as it is arguably one of the more talked about translated Japanese novels as of late. And though the plot was very odd, the characters were all insufferable, and I'm not exactly sure what the author was trying to do.. I really loved this book. There was just something so addictive to the writing style and I felt touched by the story, but for absolutely no particular reason. This book and my liking to it is a mystery to me. 


The Buddha in the Attic
by Julie Otsuka
Though fiction, this is an inspired look at the lives of the Japanese picture brides who migrated to America in the early 1900's. This short book (129 pages) was a piece of art. It was written so beautifully and with such originality that I struggled to put it down. It wrote about these different women in the style of "we did this, we went through that, this was our lives". Like the brides were a collective, similar to the way of The Handmaids Tale. However, I can't help but think that this would've been better executed if it had instead been a collection of poetry. It didn't read like a novel. 


So, yeah. I only read 4 books but I'm so glad that I joined in for this readathon. If libraries were still open, I imagine it would've been much easier to get my hands on some other Asian themed books that weren't, you know, the length of Pachinko

Did you read anything for this readathon? Let me know. 


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