Tag Archives: Japan Times

When Cherry Blossoms Bloomed Again: Kathleen Burkinshaw’s book on Hiroshima Bombings an ode to the spirit of hope and resilience 

Book Review by Mitali Chakravarty

 

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Title: The Last Cherry Blossom

Author: Kathleen Burkinshaw

Publisher: Sky Pony Press, 2016

“Cherry blossoms are like life itself—so beautiful, yet so fragile that they bloom for only a short time.”

These lines, ethereal and poetic in intent, sum up in spirit the story of the young adult book, The Last Cherry Blossom. This book, authored by Kathleen Burkinshaw, seems to be impacting the world with its peacekeeping efforts as it is now a United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs Resource for Teachers and Students. Burkinshaw has recently spoken at the United Nations in New York City.

The Last Cherry Blossom has received much acclaim. It has been nominated for the NC School Library Media Association YA book award and 2019-2020 VSBA, 2018 & 2016 Scholastic WNDB Reading Club selection, and Finalist for NC Sir Walter Raleigh Fiction Award, 2018 Sakura Medal, Japan, and SCBWI Crystal Kite Award (southeast region).

The narrative recreates a beautiful world that was ruined by the nuclear bomb blast in Hiroshima on August 6th 1945. Burkinshaw herself is the daughter of a survivor — a hibakusha. The Last Cherry Blossom brings home to the readers the loss, the pain and the suffering that a nuclear war generates through generations. Kathleen Burkinshaw herself suffers a neurological disorder due to her mother’s exposure to the atom bomb.  Read more

Where Poetry heals an abandoned child: The Magical Language of Others by EJ Koh

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Magical Language of Others by award-winning poet, EJ Koh, is a Memoir of an abandoned Korean child — not abandoned in the sense of thrown out but abandoned by parents who put their career before child rearing.

An article in Asian Review says, “It isn’t uncommon for immigrants to return to their countries of birth for better employment opportunities, but in this case Koh and her brother would be staying behind.

In her new memoir, The Magical Language of Others, Koh shows the damage that ensues when leaving one’s children during their teenage years for no reason but selfishness.”

Eun ji Koh and her brother were left behind in California to struggle it out on their own by parents who returned to Seoul for nearly a decade in quest of better prospects.

Koh did come out of it with the help of poetry, and her writing. In an interview in Wildness, she said: “When I was a girl, I had terrible nightmares every night. My mother told me there was a curse upon the women of our family (for no reason I know). We could afford neither peace nor ignorance of our dreaming lives. At twelve or so, I figured out that if I wrote down the dream each morning, it wouldn’t haunt me the rest of the day.” And that is how started her journey as an award winning poet and writer. Read more

How a Man International Booker longlisted writer was found in translation

While people create trends in literature, like Harvey Thomlinson, the British author, publisher and translator, who favours Derrida and experiments with languages, translators often get to choose what they translate. He chose to bring Chinese writers to limelight — among them Man International Booker long-listed author Murong Xuecun. And it was his translation that was longlisted.

51Gr24HETuL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_In Thomlinson’s own words: “ In those days, the web gave them space to widen the domain of the novel stylisti­cally and thematically by covering subjects such as drugs, sex and violence. There were so many of these rough diamonds in the online riverbed, I even started to translate a few chapters myself, beginning with Murong’s first novel, Leave Me Alone: A Novel of Chengdu (2006).

“It was dis­cover­­ed on the website by literary agent Benython Oldfield and sold to Allen & Unwin. I took time off from work and for two weeks locked myself in a hotel in Bangkok, where the atmospherics resonated with the grit of Murong’s Chengdu. There’s tremendous pressure to do justice to such a great book. By the end of that time I had a first draft, the publisher entered it for the Man International (literary prize) without a lick of editing and it was longlisted.” Read more

Japanese Novelist Murakami — a Surrealistic Adventure

 

“Only novels can make people feel through words that they went through actual experiences. Depending on whether or not people experience those stories, their thoughts and ways of seeing the world should change. I want to write stories that will penetrate the heart. I have a lot of hope in the power that novels hold,” said Haruki Murakami, the seventy-year-old Japanese novelist, in an interview with Japan Times. 

The interview introduces his latest novel, Killing Commendatore, where the protagonist, a thirty-six year old artist  goes into his paintings. He weaves the natural and supernatural to explore reality and admits that his protagonist is based partly on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Gatsby.

A popular novelist, Haruki Murakami was the sixth recipient of the Franz Kafka Prize  in 2006, given in recognition of  “humanistic character and contribution to cultural, national, language and religious tolerance, its existential, timeless character, its generally human validity and its ability to hand over a testimony about our times”. He has received many awards at both international and national levels and has three doctorates, including one from Princeton University. Read more