Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Salon: June and July Book Travels

I've actually had not too bad a year of reading so far, considering the 3 months after the earthquake this spring when I didn't read much at all. Books really are a great way to escape real life though and I've had some great armchair adventures over the last couple months. I've lost my memory, been banished to Canada, kidnapped in Nigeria, and trapped in a small town by the sea in Japan. I've survived the Siege of Leningrad, read how books helped one person overcome grief, and opened my own restaurant. I travelled deep into the Amazonian jungle, escaped captivity, and now I'm learning about the history of tea. Whew. It's a good thing these happened in the pages of books and not for real!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Non-Fiction Preview: 'Viewed Sideways: Writings on Culture and Style in Contemporary Japan' by Donald Richie

Essays, September 2011
Stone Bridge Press, pb, 264 p.
This definitive new collection of essays by the writer Time calls "the dean of arts critics in Japan" ranges from Kyogen drama to the sex shows of Shinjuku, from film and Buddhism to Butoh and retro rock ’n’ roll, from wasei eigo (Japanese/English) to mizushobai, the fine art of pleasing. Spanning some fifty years, these thirty-seven essays—most never anthologized before—offer cross sections of Japan’s enormous cultural power. They reflect the unique perspective of a man attempting to understand his adopted home.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Salon: Summer Reading

I used to love summer as a kid, growing up in the Canadian Prairies. Ok, maybe not the mosquitoes, but the hot, dry days were always welcome after the freezing winters. Not to mention, when you're a kid, summer also means summer holidays! No school! I still loved summer after we moved to the West Coast in my mid-teens. It was sometimes cool, or occasionally rainy, but comfortable and with lots of flowers and green everywhere.

However, ever since I've lived in Japan, I've come to really hate summer, more so every year. Once spring arrives, I already start dreading the inevitable, and relentless, heat and humidity of the Japanese summer. If I could, I'd hibernate in an air-conditioned room until October, but this is simply not very realistic. So since it's too hot to do much else, I'm hoping to spend more time reading this summer. What better way to try and escape the heat, right? And these last couple of weeks I've been trying to do just that. Now if only the chores would magically do themselves!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

JLit Preview: 'The Restaurant of Love Regained' by Ito Ogawa

Original title: 食堂かたつむり
(Shokudou Katatsumuri)
Translated from the Japanese by David Karashima
Fiction, Published in Japan in 2008
(English translation, 2011)
Alma Books, trade pb, 193 p.
Book blurb:
An extraordinary novel about food, love and the relationship between mother and daughter.

Returning home from work, Rinko is shocked to find that her flat is totally empty. Gone are her TV set, fridge and furniture, gone are all her kitchen tools, including the old Meiji mortar she has inherited from her grandmother and the Le Creuset casserole she has bought with her first salary. Gone, above all, is her Indian boyfriend, the maître d’ of the restaurant next door to the one she works in. She has no choice but to go back to her native village and her mother, on which she turned her back ten years ago as a fifteen-year-old girl.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Hello Japan! July mini-challenge: Non-Fiction

Hello Japan!
Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there is a new task which relates to some aspect of life in Japan. Anyone is welcome to join in any time. Everyone who completes the task will then be included in the drawing for that month's prize. For more information, just click on the Hello Japan! button above.

July's Topic

Wikipedia describes non-fiction as "an account, narrative or representation of a subject which is understood as fact. This presentation may be accurate or not; that is, it can give either a true or a false account of the subject in question. However, it is generally assumed that the authors of such accounts believe them to be truthful at the time of their composition." Whatever your interest, non-fiction can be a fascinating insight into real people, places and events. And through non-fiction we can gain a better understanding of the world around us.

Hello Japan! mini-challenge: June links

Hello Japan!

Thank you to everyone who took part in the Hello Japan! mini-challenge for June (all 3 of you!). The topic was Japanese flowers and gardens and the task was to appreciate Japanese flora. The idea being that with summer arriving, in the Northern Hemisphere at least, it would be nice to simply take a break from our usual daily lives, and enjoy some of nature's beauty, Japanese-style. This topic didn't turn out to be very popular unfortunately, or perhaps you were all simply too busy out there enjoying the season to write about it! Regardless, I enjoyed the contributions from three of our regulars. Just click on the links below to visit the posts.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Literary Giveaway Blog Hop Winners

Thanks to everyone who entered my giveaway for 4 literary novels. It was nice to see such a great response, and to see some new faces too. Thanks also to Judith for making it happen.

To choose the winners, first everyone was given a number in the order that you submitted your entries on the Google Form. Then I let do what it does best. So here's who is getting what.