I have been recently reading more Asian fiction and been loving it! If you didn’t know, I am an adopted Chinese American. Reading Asian fiction has made me feel a little more in touch with a part of the world I know/knew little about. If you aren’t aware, Bib li o phile Fridays is a meme hosted by Whoo Gives A Hoot and Foxes and Fairy Tales! Both excelent blogs to check out!
The Palest Ink by Kay Bratt
I review The Palest Ink on the blog already and absolutely loved it! From goodreads, “A sheltered son from an intellectual family in Shanghai, Benfu spends 1966 anticipating a promising violinist career and an arranged marriage. On the other side of town lives Pony Boy, a member of a lower-class family—but Benfu’s best friend all the same. Their futures look different but guaranteed…until they’re faced with a perilous opportunity to leave a mark on history” The book goes on to describe how their relationship changes during the Cultural Revolution in China. It is a prequel to her series, The Scavenger’s Daughter which I want to read so badly now!
I love this book because at the heart of the novel is a story of friendship and sacrifice, while the Cultural Revolution shapes the background. They are inseparable, but just further shows how our personal decisions can be political.
Human Acts by Han Kang
This is the eagerly anticipated second novel from Han Kang, famous for her novel The Vegetarian. Goodreads summarizes the book, “In the midst of a violent student uprising in South Korea, a young boy named Dong-ho is shockingly killed”. The rest of the story features characters all connected to this death. They explore issues of grief, revenge, and suffering. I had never heard of the uprisings in Korea and this subject really fascinated me. Featuring absolutely exquisite writing, the perspectives are fascinating, and this creates a fantastic cast.
I really loved this book because the perspectives were so original and inventive. It made reading a pleasure and I devoured this book quickly. I highly recommend this book and it made my top pick of 2016!
Spirits Abroad by Zen Cho
This collection of short stories by Zen Cho blend fantasy and speculative fiction together. What results, are tales that feature vampires, a younger sister shaped like a pineapple, and a magical fish. The characters are wonderfully developed and the short stories are expertly crafted. I enjoyed the novelty of these stories, the way they combined folk lore and fantasy.
Formal review to follow soon!
Invisible Planets by Ken Liu
Another collection of short stories! These stories are a mix of fantasy, science fiction, and everything in between. Because of this, they never cease to be original. The stories tackle issues of globalization, growing older, and emotional relationships. It is a fantastic introduction to Chinese speculative fiction for beginners. Expertly chosen, Liu seems to pick compelling and fantastic tales. For a more in depth look, check out my review here.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
One of my most recent reads, I really enjoyed this book. It was so easy to get into and really hooks you. At the center is a family drama, but what is revealed is an intricate drama full of cultural challenges and discrimination. Goodreads summarizes it as, “Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan”. It is an intense book full of heart breaking moments and characters deeply hurt by the discrimination they face. I highly recommend it!
Formal review to follow soon!
January Wrap Up
I just wanted to make a quick note and say that Pachinko, hands down, was my favorite pick of January! Perfect timing 😉
What are the best Asian fiction books you have read?
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