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Chinese Literature Challenge buttonToday I’m on a hike in National Park De Hoge Veluwe with my fellow Wandelgrrls. Chinoiseries is among them and she put the screws to me with her Literary Blog Hop Giveaway rules… I’ve thought about joining the Chinese Literature Challenge she’s hosting ever since it started early February and now she finally got me to! So here’s a quick post about my –ahem– ‘list’.

Level of participation: Merchant (read 1-3 books from Chinese authors or about China).

  1. Dromen van China (The China Lover), Ian Buruma

I may add a second and third title in the future but I’m wary of creating ‘reading stress’ ;) Because I also joined the 5th Japanese Literature Challenge that started this month!

Japanese Literature Challenge #5 logoThat’s not really much of a challenge because I’ll be reading several books by Japanese authors anyway. Currently on my night-stand: The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe. I haven’t read anything by him before and I’m impressed so far: a Story with a capital S. It’s the June read for the Japanese Book Group on In Spring it is the Dawn and I also plan on reading along Thousand Cranes, Kokoro and 1q84 (I-III). Then there’s my readalong of The Elephant Vanishes with Elsjelas coming up. Counting my recent review of All She Was Worth (Miyuki Miyabe) that makes… 6 books. And there are plenty more on my shelf that I’m dying to read! Of course the difficult part in my case is never the reading, but reviewing.

1st Literary Giveaway Blog Hop ButtonIn case you haven’t noticed yet: there’s another Literary Giveaway Blog Hop going on at Leeswammes’, from June 25th-29th. There are over 70 participants! Although I joined the first hop around my birthday in February, I decided to let this one pass since it’s a busy weekend. Would have been fun to do another giveaway though, ‘cause this time it’s Mr Gnoe’s B-day! ;)

Other bookish news

Cover Zeitoun (Dave Eggers) 9789048806577I started and finished reading Dave Eggers’ Zeitoun this week, nonfiction about a family living in New Orleans during Katrina — the June read for the Boekgrrls book group. I’m probably not going to review it on Graasland. You can always check out my notes on Goodreads! The one thing that I must add is that it was translated to Dutch by one of the Wandel-/Boekgrrls and she did a GREAT job! Kudos MaaikeB!

Sunday Salon logoThe Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of booklovers on the web, blogging about bookish things of the past week, visiting each others weblogs, and oh — reading books of course ;)

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Hello Japan! mini challenge logoHello 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.

MAY’s mission was ‘Mystery and Mayhem‘: to enjoy a Japanese mystery story. And I did, but never got around to telling you about it. Until today! :)

My reading comfort zone is literary fiction. But every once in a while I’m in the mood for some suspense. A bookcrossing copy of All She Was Worth, by de Japanese author Miyuki Miyabe (translated by Alfred Birnbaum), dropped into the mailbox to meet my needs at exactly the right time.

Cover All She Was Worth (Miyuki Miyabe)All She Was Worth can be read as a straightforward detective story about the beautiful office girl Shoko Sekine who goes missing the night after her fiancé informs her the bank has turned down her request for a credit card. Police inspector Shunsuke Honma, single parent of a 10 year old boy, is asked to conduct the search.

But this book contains more than just the solving of  a mystery. It’s an intelligent tale about [this is a spoiler so you will have to check out the remark below if you want to know], contemporary Japan and life in a big city (Tokyo). I learned about how different it still is today being male or female, and about the pressure on women to marry before their early twenties — or you’ll be considered a spinster and not worth much. Hm, rather sounds like the age of the Brontë sisters! But we’re in 1992, after the money bubble exploded. The story unfolds linearly from January 20th on.

To be honest, all the background on the credit-based economy of Japan was the only thing that made me zone out every once in a while. Miyabe does a good job explaining but I just wasn’t interested. For the rest All She Was Worth is a real page turner and I would love to read more about Inspector Honma; an imperfect but likeable human being to whom I could really relate.

There’s just one more thing I feel I should add. Although the crime(s) described in this book may be horrible, the narration doesn’t contain any ‘gore’ like one might expect from a Japanese thriller. So don’t let that keep you from reading All She Was Worth! And don’t just take my word for it. ;) It won the prestigious Yamamoto Shugoro Literary Prize, which is awarded annually to a new work of fiction considered to exemplify the art of storytelling.

Original title: Kasha (火車)
ISBN: 0-395-96658-2
Publication date: 1999 (first publication 1992)

Sunday Salon logoThe Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of book lovers on the web, blogging about bookish things of the past week, visiting each others weblogs, and oh — reading books of course ;)

*** SPOILER ALERT ***
I learned a lot about identity theft — how scary: it sounds so easy!
[back to where you came from]

Japanese Literature Challenge #5 logo

Postcard from Takayama

This fabulous Easter Monday I’d like to share with you the goodies I found in my mailbox last week. Starting with a postcard my friend R. sent from Takayama. Her journey to Japan went through since she wasn’t really going near the disaster areas – and she had been preparing and looking forward to her trip for a long time! Remember we went to watch Chef of South Polar with her and our hostess had made us a mega batch of sushi?

That day I made shiro miso soup for January’s Hello Japan! mini challenge, ”Something New’. It was good training for the cooking topic of the following month, in which I made rice patties & vegan gyoza. And I won! Here’s the prize I found in the mail this week: an ultra cute tiny bento box and Norwegian Wood postcard set. Kawaii! Thank you so much Tanabata!

My prize in February's Hello Japan! mini challenge (What's Cooking)

There’s still time to enter this month’s Hello Japan! challenge at In Spring it is the Dawn. Your mission is to learn something Japanese / about Japan. You can either write a blog post about it or comment on the challenge post — please do, because for every participant Tanabata will donate an amount one of the following good causes: JEARS (Japanese Earthquake Animal Rescue Support) or the Japanese Red Cross Society.

Then I had two books delivered:

  • De filmvertelster (‘The Movieteller‘) by Hernán Rivera Letelier, a gift from one of my Wandelgrrls hiking buddies after she’d heard I was doing a short course on film reviews. A big Thank You to L. too!
  • a Bookcrossing book ring I have been awaiting quite some time: All She Was Worth by Miyuki Miyabe.

I already started reading Miyabe’s “Best Mystery and Best Novel of the Year” and will be taking the book to the park once I’ve published this update.

Now what happened to Kenzaburo Oë’s Voetballen in 1860 (The Silent Cry)? You may remember I wrote I really felt like reading a detective story but picked up Oë instead because of the Japanese Literature Book Group. Well, discussion on the novel starts today and I’ve only gotten to page 20… So I put it aside. It’s not that I don’t like it — and I do want to read it — but right now I need some easier stuff: suspense, plot & pageturning. Not having the right book for my mood kept me from reading. And that’s no good at all! ;)

Book 'De filmvertelster' ('The Movie Teller')Bookcrossing book All She Was Worth

It’s Monday, what are you reading? is hosted by Sheila from Book Journey.

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