The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See (Historical Novel, 2019). An award-winning author of both Asia-focused history and best-selling fiction, Lisa See explores the once interconnected then diverging lives of a pair of free-diving women from the Korean island of Jeju. In the process, we experience the island’s unique culture and often painful histories, both […]Read more "BOOK REVIEW: The Island of Sea Women"
What We Were Promised by Lucy Tan (Contemporary Novel, 2018). This touching first novel features vivid characters interacting with the hopes and contradictions of our multicultural world, as well as universal the joys, challenges, contradictions and heartbreaks of modern family life. Wei and Lina Zhen grew up in a small town in the China of the […]Read more "BOOK REVIEW: What We Were Promised"
The Court Dancer by Kyung-Sook Shin (Historical Novel, 2018). Kyung-Sook Shin is one of South Korea’s most prominent and awarded novelists. She also hit the New York Times bestseller list with Please Look After Mom. Her newest book is a historical novel, evoking the last years of the 19th century. The previously isolationist Kingdom of Korea is slowly opening […]Read more "REVIEWED: The Court Dancer"
Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan (Contemporary Novel, 2018). Ren Ishida heard of his sister’s violent and mysterious death just after finishing his graduate degree at one of the top universities in Japan. Keiko was long-estranged from the rest of the family, though she spoke to Ren through weekly phone calls. She’d been living in a smallish town […]Read more "REVIEWED: RAINBIRDS"
Searching for the Amazons by John Man (History versus Myth, February 2018). Historian John Man specializes in topics related to Asia. In addition to being thorough and doing excellemt research, he is also a skilled writer, making the past come alive. For instance, last year’s excellent biography of Saladin, which I reviewed in an earlier blog […]Read more "REVIEWED: Searching for the Amazons"
The Shattered Lens by Jonathan Alpeyrie and Stash Luczkin (Memoir, October 2017). While still a somewhat young man, Alpeyrie was already an experienced photographer specializing in documenting various wars around the world when, in 2013 he was kidnapped by a rebel faction in Syria. In fact it was his third trip inside that world-torn country when […]Read more "REVIEWED: The Shattered Lens"
White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht (Historical/Contemporary Novel, 2018). Korean-American Mary Lynn Bracht’s first novel is the compelling, tragic yet love-infused story of two sisters caught up in and separated by the cruelty of modern war. In 1943, Hana is 16 and Emi is several years younger, living in a coastal village on the Korean island […]Read more "REVIEWED: White Chrysanthemum"
The Night Trade by Barry Eisler (Crime Fiction, 2018). This violent and effective revenge book is the latest in a series centered on Livia Lone, a police detective specializing in sex-crime cases in Seattle. A victim of human trafficking and sex abuse herself from age 13, she has a lot of issues (to put it mildly). […]Read more "REVIEWED: The Night Trade"