This section reviews fiction about far off places and exotic subcultures. My ratings place greater emphasis on vivid portrayal of settings and subcultures.
Japanese Gothic Tales by Izumi Kyooka 5 Star (Fiction - Japan)
B&G, Age 16 to 90, Out of Print: Try Amazon New & Used or try www.ebay.com
This English version of Kyooka's circa 1900 book provides English readers with a brilliant transition of a masterful work. The book includes four short stories, each with a special importance.
Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall 5 Star (Fiction - India)
B&G, Age 16 to 90, Barnes&Nobel, Amazon etc. Both paper & electronic
Tarquin Hall's detective story vividly portrays an India of rich cultural fabric yet conflicted by differences in wealth and social status. Kindness alternating with life's harsh realities pervade the story. This book is full of memorable characters for both their strengths and memorable weaknesses. On this stage, detective Vish Puri clings to shreds of personal virtue as he swims through a world of corrupt officials and complex crimes.
Descriptions of the Indian landscape are vivid. You will find lovable characters and a light treatment of dark social issues that permeate Indian society. I regard Hall as a serious writer who deals with profound social issues. I recommend this book highly.
Summer of Big Bachi by Naomi Hirahara 4 Star (Fiction - Japanese Nisei Culture circa 1970)
B, Age 21 to 90, Barnes & Nobel, Amazon etc. Both paper & electronic
Naomi Hirahara paints a vivid portrayal of post WWII California life for Japanese citizens. Relegated to a 3rd class citizen, Mas Arai is a gardener who accepts his lot in life, and struggles day to day for a merger living and occasional card games at the lawn mower shop. One day, a detective from Japan appears and begins digging into the background of a certain friend. Before long, Mas's truck is stolen and he finds himself embroiled in a mystery that involves reporters from Japan, snooping detectives and claims against an exfriend's estate as the man dies of cancer.
Can Mas survive long enough to figure out what is happening and impart some justice to the situation? Read Naomi's well written fictional account and find out.
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Paul F. Watson