Sep 19, 2010

A life lived for others

Sixty-five years after the Allied victory over Japan in the Pacific War, Paul Glynn chronicles the life of his brother and fellow member of the Order of the Rising Sun, Father Tony Glynn. LIKE A SAMURAI: The Tony Glynn Story, by Paul Glynn. Marist ...

Sep 12, 2010

Nara legends, myths and other weird tales

From May 1974 until March 1985, Kenji Inui wrote the column “Hometown Legends” for the prefectural news magazine Kensei Nara. LEGENDS OF NARA, by Inui Kenji. Translated by Matthew J. Eynon and Teruko Takamiya. Nara Newspaper, 2010, 259 pp., ¥1,800 (paper) Published on the ...

Aug 22, 2010

Forbidden romance in Saigon

United by wars against the United States, yet divided by the economic results and effects of those wars, Vietnam and Japan are the real subjects of Aska Mochizuki’s Knopf Kodansha Prize-winning novel “Spinning Tropics.” SPINNING TROPICS, by Aska Mochizuki. Translated by Wayne P. Lammers. ...

Jul 18, 2010

Outer limits of kinky sex and violence

Bored with life and bullied by an overbearing mother, 17-year-old Mari finds a painful solace in the company of a translator of Russian, 50 years her senior. Yoko Ogawa’s “Hotel Iris,” beautifully translated by Stephen Snyder, deals with obsession, fetishism, loneliness and the multifaceted ...

Jun 20, 2010

I left my bloody heart in London

A complicated tale, simply and well told, “King Death” is Toby Litt’s 12th work of fiction, the “K” in his alphabetic collection and the second of his novels to be set mostly in a hospital. KING DEATH by Toby Litt. Penguin Books, 2010, 352 ...

Jun 13, 2010

Sweeping tale of love, murder and guilt in old Nagasaki

“Black Swan Green,” David Mitchell’s fourth novel concerning a year in the life of 13-year-old Jason Taylor, reads like a first novel with its autobiographical backdrop and references to 1980s British pop culture, advertisements and brands. “The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet” returns ...

May 9, 2010

From a public toilet to outer space, sliding in filth all the way

In his 1989 essay “Stalking the Billion-Footed Beast” Tom Wolfe argues: “It was realism that created the ‘absorbing’ or ‘gripping’ quality that is peculiar to the novel, the quality that makes the reader feel that he has been pulled not only into the setting ...

Apr 4, 2010

Worldview colored by blood

A truly international thriller, “The Man From Beijing” moves from a hamlet in Sweden to China, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, with Copenhagen and London thrown into the mix. The novel also moves in time, from the present day back to the China and U.S. of ...

Mar 21, 2010

Distilled drama from a society in ferment

Think of gin and one thinks of England. Think of tequila and Mexico, vodka and Russia, brandy and France. Think of sake and one thinks only of Japan. THE SCENT OF SAKE, by Joyce Lebra. Avon Books, 2009, 384 pp., 2009, $13.99 (paperback) Mentioned ...