Need something to read in the new year?

Dec 30, 2007

Need something to read in the new year?

SHADOW OF THE SILK ROAD, by Colin Thubron (HarperCollins) When a writer of Colin Thubron’s stripe turns his attention to the Silk Road, following a route from Xian to the shores of Antakya in Turkey, it’s worth paying attention. Crossing the Uighur regions in ...

Nov 25, 2007

Tales of Meiji love, lust and drinking tea

Mistress Oriku: Stories from a Tokyo Teahouse by Matsutaro Kawaguchi. Tuttle Publishing, 280 pp., 2007, ¥1,785 (paper) During the middle to late years of the Meiji Era, factories, cement works and commercial shipyards began to spring up like noxious mushrooms along the embankments of ...

Nov 11, 2007

Trapped between borders

Frontier Mosaic: Voices of Burma from the Lands In Between, by Richard Humphries. Orchid Press, 2007, 180 pp., $29.95 (paper) “A man on a motorbike comes by and we then follow him through the streets of Mae Sot.” So begins one of the narrative ...

Sep 23, 2007

The sentence for keeping a journal

Confessions: An Innocent Life in Communist China, by Kang Zhengguo. W.W. Norton & Co, 2007, 443 pp., $27.95 (cloth) For Kang Zhengguo it all started when he began keeping a diary. In Maoist China, with no place for privacy, even an innocent record of ...

Jul 15, 2007

Dive into the lower depths

PIERCING by Ryu Murakami. Penguin Books, 2007, 185 pp., $13 (paper) While his wife sleeps contentedly, a father hovers over the crib of his baby daughter, a penlight in one hand, ice pick in the other. Pressures are banking up inside the nervous system ...

May 20, 2007

Listening to history's creaking bones

ORACLE BONES: A Journey Between China’s Past and Present, by Peter Hessler. HarperCollins, 2006, 491 pp., $26.95 (cloth) Beside their obvious antiquity, why should heaps of cattle shoulder-blades and turtle shells dating from the 13th and 14th centuries B.C. be of such immense importance ...

Feb 18, 2007

Strange stories from Canadian suburbs

Nectar Fragments, by Michael Hoffman. AuthorHouse, 2006, 564 pp., $23.49 (paper). In the manner of the anthropologist, Michael Hoffman, in his latest collection of short stories, stakes out a small piece of terrain then proceeds to examine the life within its coordinates. The name ...

Nov 26, 2006

A colloquial style of literature tourism

JAPAN: A Traveler’s Literary Companion, edited by Jeffrey Angels & J. Thomas Rimer, foreword by Donald Richie. Whereabouts Press, 2006, 232 pp., $14.95 (paper). It was purely by chance that I read the stories in this anthology while visiting the very same locations that ...

Oct 22, 2006

Exploring the cobwebs and exposing some dirt

ISTANBUL: Memories of a City, by Orhan Pamuk. Faber & Faber, 2006, 348 pp., £8 (paper). Turkey it seems has always inspired fear. The memory of advancing Turkish units camped outside the gates of Vienna haunted the European mind for centuries. “Where the Turk ...

Aug 27, 2006

Man's plunge into the Eros trap

ERO-SAMURAI by David D. Duff. iUniverse Inc., 138 pp., 2006, $14.95 (paper). Hearing several malicious comments about this book, I was eagerly predisposed toward it. Sub-titled “An Obsessed Man’s Loving Tribute to Japanese Women,” this is not the first politically incorrect work on Japan, ...