Thursday, 5 November 2020

Tsundoku #15 - November 2020

 November and whether you're just heading into lockdown or just escaping it you need more books. So here's November's selection and don't forget, Christmas is just round the corner and bookshops everywhere could do with a little help this year....first up some new fiction...


Susie Yang's White Ivy features Ivy Lin, a Chinese immigrant growing up in a low-income apartment complex outside Boston, is desperate to assimilate with her American peers. Her parents disapprove, berating her for her mediocre grades and what they see as her lazy, entitled attitude. But Ivy has a secret weapon, her grandmother Meifeng, from whom she learns to shoplift to get the things she needs to fit in.

Francis Cha's If I Had Your Face has a cast of characters including Kyuri is an achingly beautiful woman with a hard-won job at a Seoul "room salon," an exclusive underground bar where she entertains businessmen while they drink. Kyuri's roommate, Miho, is a talented artist who grew up in an orphanage but won a scholarship to study art in New York. Ara is a hairstylist whose two preoccupations sustain her: an obsession with a boy-band pop star, and a best friend who is saving up for the extreme plastic surgery that she hopes will change her life. And Wonna, one floor below, is a newlywed trying to have a baby that she and her husband have no idea how they can afford to raise in Korea's brutal economy. 

Chetan Bhagan is perhaps better known for his commentaries and non-fiction work but One Arranged Murder is a novel. Keshav has set up an investigation agency with his best friend, Saurabh. Can the two amateur detectives successfully solve another murder case that affects them personally? And where will it leave their friendship? One Arranged Murder is an unputdownable thriller from India’s highest-selling author. A story about love, friendship, family and crime, it will keep you entertained and hooked right till the end.


November is a great month for get in some learning... 

Nicole Webb's China Blonde follows Nicole, a newreader in |Sydney, and her husband, James, after James is offered a job in Xi’an. The couple and their three-year-old daughter Ava pack up their home in Hong Kong and fly into a world they know nothing about -- a place where they know no one.

Kelly Hammond's China's Muslims and Japan's Empire: Centring Islam in WW2 is a fascinating read. Kelly A. Hammond places Sino-Muslims at the center of imperial Japan's challenges to Chinese nation-building efforts. Revealing the little-known story of Japan's interest in Islam during its occupation of North China, Hammond shows how imperial Japanese aimed to defeat the Chinese Nationalists in winning the hearts and minds of Sino-Muslims, a vital minority population. Offering programs that presented themselves as protectors of Islam, the Japanese aimed to provide Muslims with a viable alternative—and, at the same time, to create new Muslim consumer markets that would, the Japanese hoped, act to subvert the existing global capitalist world order and destabilize the Soviets. 

 Patricia O'Sullivan's Women, Crime and the Courts: Hong Kong 1841-1941 takes the first 100 years of Hong Kong’s colonial history, this book unravels the lives of women – Chinese and Westerners alike – who found themselves on the wrong side of the law. Hong Kong’s female prison population was a tiny fraction of that in Britain or America, but there are still plenty of tales from its women kidnappers, smugglers, bomb-makers, thieves and cruel mistresses.

Tobias Harris's The Iconoclast: Shinzo Abe and the New Japan is a major biography of the recent Japanese PM. Shinzo Abe entered politics burdened by high expectations: that he would change Japan. In 2007, seemingly overwhelmed, he resigned after only a year as prime minister. Yet, following five years of reinvention, he masterfully regained the premiership in 2012 and, until his resignation in 2020, dominated Japanese democracy as no leader had done before. Abe inspired fierce loyalty among his followers, cowing Japan’s left with his ambitious economic programme and support for the security and armed forces. He staked a leadership role for Japan in a region being rapidly transformed by the rise of China and India, while carefully preserving an ironclad relationship with Trump’s America. The Iconoclast tells the story of Abe’s meteoric rise and stunning fall, his remarkable comeback, and his unlikely emergence as a global statesman who laid the groundwork for Japan’s survival in a turbulent century.

And finally Fang Fang's Wuhan Diary (translated by Michael Berry) is an eyewitness account of events as they unfold, Wuhan Diary captures the challenges of daily life and the changing moods and emotions of being quarantined without reliable information. Fang Fang finds solace in small domestic comforts and is inspired by the courage of friends, health professionals and volunteers, as well as the resilience and perseverance of Wuhan's nine million residents. But, by claiming the writer´s duty to record she also speaks out against social injustice, abuse of power, and other problems which impeded the response to the epidemic and gets herself embroiled in online controversies because of it.