• Kanazawa Cover
    In English,  Literary Fiction

    Kanazawa by David Joiner

    The story contained with the pages of Kanazawa is both compelling and sometimes frustrating. It’s a story that many (white?) immigrants who live in Japan can appreciate – especially those with Japanese partners. Not unlike Life is Elsewhere/Burn Your Flags, martial conflict and personal identity are a big part of the story. However, the approaches are vastly different. Kanazawa is slow and meandering and the path to the final conclusion is initially obscured. Yet this doesn’t make the story boring. On the contrary, the protagonists dialogue manage to remain engaging throughout. Both the title, and perhaps the cover itself, suggest a cultural story. This is true. Various aspects of culture…

  • Almonds cover
    In English,  Literary Fiction

    Almond by Won-pyung Sohn

    The debut novel of Korean author Won-pyung Sohn and translated by Sandy Joosun Lee, Almond it is a story about monsters. What is a monster and who gets to decide when someone is a one? In a world where monsters roam, things are not as simple as they appear – even the idea of the monster itself. These issues are at the core of Almond and Sohn has dealt with them beautifully. Through Lee’s translation, the author’s words are preserved with clarity and precision and all events in the book are described with perfect balance. However talking about monsters comes at a price. Almond contains its fair share of gore…

  • Life is Elsewhere/Burn Your Flags
    In English,  Literary Fiction

    Life is Elsewhere/Burn Your Flags by Iain Maloney

    Life is Elsewhere/Burn Your Flags by Iain Maloney is a sobering and thoughtful book. In particular, in late-2021, the pandemic setting feels almost too close to home. The pandemic has been a lot – for all of us. The losses we have individually and collectively experienced are immeasurable. It will likely be years before we are able to come to terms with what has, and is still happening. As Cormac so eloquently says on page two, “Life is elsewhere. I am elsewhere. But this year death is everywhere. Death is here.” Yet the story is about more than the pandemic. In Life is Elsewhere/Burn Your Flags, many other themes are…

  • The Beekeeper of Aleppo cover
    In English,  Literary Fiction

    The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

    The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri is an outstanding, but haunting book. It’s part of a category of book that many people feel is worn out and overused, stories of people in and escaping war. Yet it manages to stand out in the crowd. Unlike many of such stories, it is not by a specific person’s life. It is also not a Holocaust story. Instead, as the title suggests, this story focuses on the civil war in Syria. The civil war in Syria continues to rage on. Refugees continue to flood into neighbouring countries and across the oceans. As these people are welcomed into new homes, part of the…