Tag: asian literature

Revenge by Yoko Ogawa

Posted January 17, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Short Stories / 0 Comments

Revenge by Yoko OgawaTitle: Revenge (Goodreads)
Author: Yoko Ogawa
Translator: Stephen Snyder
Published: Picador, January 29, 2012
Pages: 176
Genres: Short Stories
My Copy: ARC from Netgalley

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

An aspiring writer moves into a new apartment and discovers that her landlady has murdered her husband. Years later, the writer’s stepson reflects upon his stepmother and the strange stories she used to tell him. Yoko Ogawa weaves together a collection of short stories to create a haunting tapestry of death.

While this is a collection of short stories, Yoko Ogawa has managed to link each story with the last with recurring images and motifs. Apparently this is an old tradition from classical Japanese poetic collections. This is an eerie and very sinister novel but there is a real beauty within it too; not just in the writing, but in the imagery.  Yoko Ogawa takes the reader on a clever journey of life and the afterlife.

I love what Ogawa does in this book, not only looking at the human psyche but plays with it a little to mess with the mind.  From the very start of this book, I was planning my next dip into the world of Yoko Ogawa, I was hooked and I wanted to explore her writing more. It was just the combination of beauty with the sinister tones of the stories that really worked for me.

If this book is anything to go on, Yoko Ogawa is an amazing writer; showing the reader the beauty behind the dark and disturbing. Each story is macabre but the best part of the entire book is the way the stories link together and the beautiful tapestry Ogawa weaves.  Highly recommended for lovers of short stories and the dark and disturbing, you won’t be disappointed by how Yoko Ogawa captures your attention.

The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

Posted October 30, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Book of the Month, Literary Fiction, Magical Realism / 0 Comments

The Satanic Verses by Salman RushdieTitle: The Satanic Verses (Goodreads)
Author: Salman Rushdie
Published: Picador, 1988
Pages: 561
Genres: Literary Fiction, Magical Realism
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

To celebrate Banned Book Week, the book club decided to read The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie. For those who don’t know, the book tells the story of two Indian actors falling to earth, transformed into living symbols of angelic and evil. Both actors struggle to piece their lives together and this novel tries to put it all together from the terrorist hijacking that leads to them falling to earth and surviving to their live their struggles. Farishta is a Bollywood superstar and Chamcha is a voiceover artist in England but The Satanic Verses is a clash between Eastern and Western culture and the effects it has on their Hindu faith.

I started off really enjoying this book; it was bizarre and I had no idea where this book would take me but after the millionth dream sequence I did feel very lost. I don’t begin to understand the religious aspects of this book or the life of Muhammad so I felt like I was missing a lot from this novel. I did end up asking a friend about life as a Muslim and the issues she faced with religion in western society which did lead to her fully venting and while it was great to get her opinion, I was left with more questions than answers. I finally had to try and accept that Rushdie is just trying to vent his own issues about his personal dilemmas about faith and being disillusioned with both cultures.

While this book is considered to be both controversial and acclaimed, I found it hard to see this book as either. Of course I understand if people take issues with this book but for me it felt more like Salman Rushdie needed to express his concerns and it was more a personal problem than a stab at the entire religion. As for the critically acclaimed aspect, sure the books was beautifully written but the magical realism was probably turned up to the extreme in this novel and it was difficult to piece together. Also if you want to understand this book fully you may need to study theology and migrate to a place that clashes with your cultural ideals.

Overall this book was confusing and made my brain feel like it was melting; there is so much weirdness and depth to the book I have a feeling I will never grasp it in a way I would like to. The amount of dream sequences didn’t help this book as made it a lot harder to keep up with. I would love to know what someone that has a similar issue with religion and culture butting heads thinks of this book.

I would be interested in reading this book again, maybe when I have a degree in literature and have the tools to fully analyse everything in this book. But for now it was too intense for me to get full enjoyment out of it. I’ve heard Salman Rushdie is not an easy author to read and I can see why. This book’s final rating is not a reflection of my enjoyment of the book but more of the proses and the fact that it has stuck with me well after I’ve finished it. I don’t fully understand it but I now appreciate what he did with The Satanic Verse.