GNI BOOK CLUB [2]

In 1975, my big brother sent a novel for me from NY called The Moonflower by Phillis A. Whitney. It's a suspenseful romantic thriller about life in Japan after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings. It was so gripping that my entire high school class passed it to each other and read it, and by the time I got it back, it was falling apart. Through the years I always remembered the book and the story. Two months ago I ordered it from Amazon and read it again in 5 days, like I used to read in my teens.

Leonora posted:

In 1975, my big brother sent a novel for me from NY called The Moonflower by Phillis A. Whitney. It's a suspenseful romantic thriller about life in Japan after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings. It was so gripping that my entire high school class passed it to each other and read it, and by the time I got it back, it was falling apart. Through the years I always remembered the book and the story. Two months ago I ordered it from Amazon and read it again in 5 days, like I used to read in my teens.

One of the most emotional plays I have filmed, was a school plays called 'A Thousand Cranes'.

It was about  a twelve year old Japanese girl who died from radiation, ten years after the bomb at Hiroshima.

About 100 Canadian students were taught songs in Japanese and the costumes were all authentic Japanese, even the slippers.

The student who played the dying Japanese girl was so real, that there were sniffing in the audience and I could not keep a dry eye through the camera lens.

I gave a copy to a Japanese lady in my aerobics class and she replied with similar emotions.

Five hundred paper cranes were sent from Japan for the play, by an ex student. A copy of the video was sent to him in Japan and shown on their TV station, with Japanese subtitles.

 

 

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Gilbakka posted:

Image result for the wooden horse book

Finished reading THE WOODEN HORSE by Eric Williams. I had attempted to read this novel 52 years ago when I was a teenager but abandoned it after a few pages. When 13 inmates recently escaped from the Lusignan prison by tunnelling, I remembered THE WOODEN HORSE and borrowed the e-book version from Toronto Public Library. I approached the story with a lifetime of experiences and a fair knowledge of prison systems gained from reading and two personal visits to prisons in Cuba and Guyana in 1989.

THE WOODEN HORSE is based on the real-life successful escape by three Second World War British prisoners-of-war who had been captured in Germany. Eric Williams, an airman whose bomber was shot down, was one of the trio. They built a wooden vaulting horse, placed it at a certain spot in the prison compound every day ostensibly for physical exercises, and dug a 150-foot tunnel outwards to freedom within a few months. That escape from prison was an ordeal but the greater ordeal was to get out of Germany and German-occupied European countries and return to Britain. 

While reading this gripping novel I wondered how many other prisoners it had inspired after publication in wartime and peace time.

Very, very good book. I read it back in Guyana. I was lucky to find a copy over here a couple of years ago. It's of the same calibre as "The Great Escape".

Finished reading THE BONESETTER'S DAUGHTER by American novelist Amy Tan. Published 16 years ago, the story deals with the relationship between Ruth, a middle-aged Chinese-American woman, and her aging mother fast losing her memory. A relationship that was not always harmonious. Ruth learns through her mother's written account about her family and ancestors in China. The novel gives a realistic perspective of rural life in China up to WW2. And a snapshot of Chinese immigrants' experience in California, as well as their offspring's life.

For generations Ruth's ancestors ran a cottage industry producing ink sticks for the literate Chinese market. Before writing anything, one would grind part of an ink stick into an ink stone and add drops of water to make liquid ink. According to Amy Tan, one's frame of mind determined the final result, i.e. the proper depiction of Chinese language characters on paper. A fascinating process, I think.

THE BONESETTER'S DAUGHTER is a page turner.

 

antabanta posted:

Just read Song Of Solomon by Tony Morrison - amazing story-telling.

Seems like you and I got a brainwave to read women. Toni Morrison. Amy Tan.

And now Iran-born Azar Nafisi, whose memoir THE REPUBLIC OF IMAGINATION I finished reading a few minutes ago. This book came out three years ago. It discusses mainly three American novels: [1] "Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain, [2] "Babbit" by Sinclair Lewis, [3] "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter" by Carson McCullers. To a lesser extent Nafisi also gives her thoughts on "Go Tell It on the Mountain" by James Baldwin. 

In my reading experience, one book often leads to another. So, I didn't waste time to borrow a digital copy of James Baldwin's novel from my library just now. Will start it tonight.

 

Image result for go tell it on the mountain book

Finished reading "Go Tell It on the Mountain" by African-American writer James Baldwin. Published in 1953, it is Baldwin's first novel and it's semi-autobiographical. It focuses on the 14th birthday of a black boy in Harlem. His father, who is actually his step father unknowing to him, gives him a brutal belting on his special day. His step father is sexton of a small church whose worshipers are African American.

This novel is set in Jim Crow USA, a period of racial segregation and intense persecution of blacks by white people. All the characters in the story are affected negatively in that environment. But they maintain strong Christian faith and hope for betterment.

Image result for the company we keep book

Finished reading THE COMPANY WE KEEP by Robert Baer and Dayna Baer. The authors worked for the US Central Intelligence Agency [CIA]. This is their memoir, published in 2011. It takes the reader from the US to France, the former Yugoslavia, Tajikistan, Russia, Morocco, Lebanon and Iraq.

Robert and Dayna met while on assignment in Sarajevo. Both were married but estranged from their partners due to duty. Before the book ends, Robert and Dayna are husband and wife who left the CIA but whose professional past follows them everywhere.

I have read a fair number of fictional spy thrillers. This non-fiction book shows that spies' lives are just as intriguing, daring, death-defying, exciting and romantic as that of their fictional counterparts. 

Finished reading STORY OF A DEATH FORETOLD by Oscar Guardiola-Rivera. Salvador Allende was a democratically elected President of Chile. He ran a coalition government from September 1970 until his violent death in a coup on September 11, 1973. 

This book is highly analytical, dealing with Allende's political career, his ascension to power, the destabilization of his government by big Chilean and US businesses and the Nixon Administration and, critically, the Chilean Armed Forces. The main goal was to prevent the consolidation of "another Cuba" in Latin America.

STORY OF A DEATH FORETOLD was published on the 40th anniversary of Allende's death.

 

Finished reading THE SHADOW OF THE CRESCENT MOON by Afghanistan-born Pakistani writer Fatima Bhutto.

This novel was published in 2013 and is set mainly in Waziristan which lies on the border with Afghanistan. For decades that region has been problematic for successive Pakistani governments. There have been insurgencies and deadly Sunni-Shia conflicts. The rest of the country regard Waziristan people as untrustworthy separatists.

It is Eid in the story. A Friday. Three brothers decide for the first time to worship at three separate mosques. They don’t want a bomb blast to kill them together, leaving their widowed mother in terrible grief. What happens this Eid day will be tragic for this Shia family anyway.

This is an impressive debut novel by Fatima Bhutto.

Finished reading “OCTOBER: The Story of the Russian Revolution” by China Miéville. This book was published just a few months ago in time for the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.

There were two revolutions in Russia in 1917. One in February [old-style calendar] that overthrew Tsar Nicholas II and installed a provisional government. The other in October that kicked out the provisional government and established what was touted as a socialist government led by V. I. Lenin.

The October revolution was by far the more significant of the two, with far-reaching consequences internationally.

China Miéville starts his book in January 1917 and devotes succeeding chapters chronologically to the months that followed up to October.

In his Epilogue he writes: “... the months and years that follow [October 1917] will see the revolution embattled, assailed, isolated, ossified, broken. We know where this is going: purges, gulags, starvation, mass murder.”

But the author says the October 1917 revolution is a basic yardstick to measure social change globally.

“It is not for nostalgia’s sake that the strange story of the first socialist revolution in history deserves celebration. The standard of October declares that things changed once, and they might do so again,” he writes.

 

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