The Waiting Years

女坂
, ,

Kodansha
1957
Paperback
203
Japanese
John Bester
April 14, 2021 April 19, 2021

The beautiful, immature girl whom she took home to her husband was a maid only in name. Tomo's real mission had been to find him a mistress. Nor did her secret humiliation end there. The web that his insatiable lust spun about him soon trapped another young woman, and another ... and the relationships between the women thus caught were to form, over the years, a subtle, shifting pattern in which they all played a part. There was Suga, the innocent, introspective girl from a respectable but impoverished family; the outgoing, cheerful, almost boyish Yumi; the flirtatious, seductive Miya, who soon found her father-in-law more dependable as a man than his brutish son.... And at the center, rejected yet dominating them all, the near tragic figure of the wife Tomo, whose passionate heart was always, until that final day, held in check by an old-fashioned code.

In a series of colorful, unforgettable scenes, Enchi brilliantly handles the human interplay within the ill-fated Shirakawa family. Japan's leading woman novelist and a member of the prestigious Art Academy, she combines a graceful, evocative style that consciously echoes the Tale of Genji with keen insight and an impressive ability to develop her characters over a long period of time. Her work is rooted deep in the female psychology, and it is her women above all-so clearly differentiated yet all so utterly feminine-who live in the memory. With The Waiting Years, a new and important literary figure makes her debut in the Western world.


About the book

End of Edo Period, a state official asks his wife to find a new concubine among the young ladies who are offered by the most respectable families in Tokyo. Tomo knows that she must obey to her husband but her heart breaks nonetheless.

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The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Kaguya Hime no Monogatari
,

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
2016
-
28
Japanese
-
March 30, 2021 April 1, 2021

The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter is a 10th-century Japanese monogatari (fairy tale).It was also occasionally known as The Tale of Princess Kaguya. It primarily details the life of a mysterious girl called Kaguya-hime, who was discovered as a baby inside the stalk of a glowing bamboo. Life in this sacred space is idyllic, and the young sylph soon earns the nickname Takenoko (Little Bamboo) for the speed with which she grows. But the equally miraculous discovery of gold and rare fabrics convinces Sanuki that this glowing creature deserves better, and he moves her to the capital to seek a husband befitting her imagined regal status.

A succession of suitors ensue, all desperate to earn the hand of the mysterious young woman whose ethereal beauty has become the stuff of legend. But trapped within the gilded cage of a noble home and rigid social etiquette, the now formally named “Princess Kaguya” longs for the lost countryside of her childhood, and the friendship of handsome ragamuffin Sutemaru, which has sparked an eternal flame in her heart. Animation interpretation of Hayao Miyazaki studio Ghibli and his 79-year-old co-founder Isao Takahata keeps the animation studio’s stock high, amid reports of closure, with what has been rumoured to be his own final film. This adaptation of the 10th-century Japanese folk tale Taketori Monogatari (which has previously inspired such cinematic adventures as Kon Ichikawa’s live-action Princess from the Moon) boasts a sketchier, more impressionistic palette than the bold strokes of Spirited Away or Howl’s Moving Castle, which made Ghibli a global brand.


About the book

The Tale of Princess Kaguya is a mystical tale that, like many similar Japanese writings, seeks to teach the reader the fundamental concepts of living. In this tale the fundamentals thought are kindness and altruism of the bamboo cutter contrasted with the avarice and lust of Kaguya’s suitors.

In fact, one day the cutter finds a tiny girl among the bamboos and takes her home, raising her as a daughter and giving her everything he can. From that day on, he always finds bamboo to cut and makes a fortune. But both the cutter and his wife are getting old and would like to see their daughter married, but she doesn’t want this. Moreover, no one has ever seen her face and many think she is beautiful so much that many men would like to marry her.

When Kaguya realises that she can no longer postpone the marriage, she gives five trials to five suitors and whoever succeeds in completing the trial will be worthy of her hand.

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The Woman in the White Kimono

The Woman in the White Kimono
, ,

Legend Press
May 28th 2019
eBook
352
English
March 24, 2021 March 29, 2021

Japan, 1957. Seventeen-year-old Naoko Nakamura’s prearranged marriage secures her family’s status in their traditional Japanese community. However, Naoko has fallen for an American sailor and to marry him would bring great shame upon her entire family. When it’s learned Naoko carries the sailor’s child, she’s cast out in disgrace and forced to make unimaginable choices with consequences that will ripple across generations.

America, present day. Tori Kovač, caring for her dying father, finds a letter containing a shocking revelation. Setting out to learn the truth, Tori’s journey leads her to a remote seaside village in Japan where she must confront the demons of the past to pave a way for redemption.

Inspired by true stories, The Woman in the White Kimono illuminates a searing portrait of one woman torn between her culture and her heart, and another woman on a journey to discover the true meaning of home.


About the book

The Woman in the White Kimono is a poignant story, which speaks of a rather sad piece of world history. We are in Japan in 1957, therefore after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with American domination still in progress. But Americans aren’t just invasors and bad people, some are good guys who enrolled in the army while still minors to escape the monotony of their lives. Here we meet Naoko who, together with a friend, meets an American, one day as she returns from school. She calls him Hajime because if her family learns that she has fallen in love with a gaijin (外人), a foreigner, she will surely be prevented from meeting him. But when her father decides it’s time for her to get married, she gets the opportunity to introduce her boyfriend to her family before being forced to marry her father’s chosen suitor, Satoshi.

Things are obviously not going well also because Hajime shows up in American uniform and the family still has a “hate” mentality over the Americans.

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How We Disappeared

,

Hanover Square Press
April 3rd 2019
Hardcover
350
English
August 19, 2020 August 30, 2020

Singapore, 1942. As Japanese troops sweep down Malaysia and into Singapore, a village is ransacked, leaving only two survivors and one tiny child.

In a neighboring village, seventeen-year-old Wang Di is strapped into the back of a troop carrier and shipped off to a Japanese military brothel where she is forced into sexual slavery as a "comfort woman." After sixty years of silence, what she saw and experienced still haunts her.

In the year 2000, twelve-year-old Kevin is sitting beside his ailing grandmother when he overhears a mumbled confession. He sets out to discover the truth, wherever it might lead, setting in motion a chain of events he never could have foreseen.

Weaving together two time lines and two very big secrets, this stunning debut opens a window on a little-known period of history, revealing the strength and bravery shown by numerous women in the face of terrible cruelty. Drawing in part on her family's experiences, Jing-Jing Lee has crafted a profoundly moving, unforgettable novel about human resilience, the bonds of family and the courage it takes to confront the past.


About the book

How We Disappeared is a book that narrates the true story of oriental women at the time of the Japanese occupation in China, of how they were kidnapped from their villages, often even in different countries, to be locked up in pleasure homes for Japanese soldiers. We follow the direct story of Wang Di from the time she was born until her old age and of a little boy whose grandmother, on her deathbed, makes a revelation that will upset his life and that of his family.

Premise. This book is not suitable for everyone. There is talk of violence and states of starvation that can hurt the most sensitive minds. And even the strongest ones like it happened to me. So take all precautions to read this book.

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The Bear and the Nightingale

The Bear and the Nightingale
, , ,

, Book # 1
Del Rey Books
January 10th 2017
Hardcover
323
English
May 1, 2020 May 3, 2020

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn't mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse's fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa's mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa's new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa's stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse's most frightening tales.


About the book

The Bear and the Nightingale is a book set in the cold Russia of the 14th century where a patriarchal society still reigns. We follow the story of a landowning family, who, despite the high social level, suffers from hunger in winter. Their home is located in a northern village where winter lasts 7 months and is well hidden in the forest.

The family is made up of the father, Petr, mother, Marina and 4 children and the story begins with the father returning home and his wife gives him the news of being pregnant for the fifth time. Her nanny tells her that pregnancy will kill her because she is too weak, but the woman wants baby because the girl “will be like her.” Some time later the baby is born and named Vasilisa, Vasja for the family, but unfortunately the woman dies.

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