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The Island of Bicycle Dancers: A Novel

3.25  ·  Rating Details  ·  91 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
This is the coming-of-age story of twenty-year old Yurika Song, a Korean-Japanese woman who comes from Japan to New York City for a summer to work with her Korean relatives and improve her English. Yurika's friends back home have always joked that she is half-sushi/half kim-chi. But cross-Asian ethnicities turn out to be far less jarring than her entree into New York life ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published February 1st 2005 by Picador (first published 2004)
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Jen Haas
Dec 25, 2008 Jen Haas rated it liked it
Originally I read this book in one of my Asian American studies classes and I'd have to say that if I had not been in that class this book might not of held my attention. It's not that the book is badly written or the subject bad however the main female lead, Yuriko, and I have little in common. When looking at the book in a cultural and social context I have to say that it is truly unique and captivating. Most people do not write on Japanese born Koreans, not to mention a character that is half ...more
Nov 22, 2014 Aitziber rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Nice Guys who finish last
I wanted to like this book. The Island of Bicycle Dancers: A Novel tells the story of Yurika Song, a 20-year old half-Korean Japanese who comes to New York for the summer to learn English. As tends to happen, she finds herself, discovers a few secrets about her family and we're led to believe her actions lead to horrible consequences for the men who cannot get enough of her.

The English angle was pretty attractive. Jiro Adachi teaches English as a foreign language, and the love for his job comes
Aug 20, 2007 Erin added it
this book... review of this book, review of this book... let's see... why did i read this book? oh yes. it was in a half price bookstore that i practically bought out after they went out of business in the local mall and dropped all their prices to 25 cents. i took anything that wasn't an excercise manual or a 'chicken soup for the soul'. the thing is, i can't remember much about this book, except that someone steals bicycle parts and this girl has grungy sex all over the place. and their are lo ...more
Jan 17, 2009 Fiona rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
A good debut, but too many narrative perspectives and stock villains weaken what could have been a very strong examination of immigration, family lives, and how learning a second language brings the learner a new identity.
Jan 07, 2016 Ajo rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I thought the characters each had their own distinct personality and I had no trouble hearing their voices in my head as I was reading. I also knew nothing about Asian American life much less that of couriers and messenger bikers - perhaps that's why I enjoyed it so much, I didn't have any real experiences to contradict the experiences of the characters.
I had fun reading this book, ran the gamete of emotions and learned things in the process... What more could I ask
Joe Lunievicz
May 08, 2012 Joe Lunievicz rated it it was amazing
The Island of Bicycle Dancers by Jiro Adachi is a beautifully written coming of age story that delves deeply into the cultural mixes that make up Flushing and lower Manhattan's east side. With a pitch perfect cast of characters and a half Korean and half Japanese protagonist, Adachi uses his protagonist, Yurika, as a wonderful lens from which to observe New York City, her family, and the well detailed and nuanced environments of The Lucky
Market where she works and her aunt and uncles home where
Jun 29, 2015 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A melancholy but unique coming of age about a Japanese-Korean 20 year old who gets tangled into the wrong crowd while working for her relatives. A fast, polished, unique but surreal in a way that comes from the intense perspective on what could've been an otherwise boring novel. The first half of the novel is slow going but is well worth the wait.
Apr 07, 2009 Jenifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: new-york-city
Another book on my reading journey through N.Y.C. I have always been interested in the lives of immigrant people in New York; however I was excited to read this book mainly because of the bicycle messengers. I thought they would be a wholesome granola-crunchy kind of group. I give this book a high rating because it was interesting for me.

I liked the story even though it was simple. I liked the plot line of a modern immigrant learning about America and its language through the lens of the city.
Oct 06, 2007 Stephen rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: bicycle couriers
Hmmm. I don't really know what to say about Jiro Adachi's Island of the Bicycle Dancers. It's strange to say this, but I didn't "connect" well with any of the characters. I haven't felt this detached from a novel in a long time and the writing or story isn't bad at all. I sort of feel like it's one of those moments in life where you have two close friends, but those two close friends aren't friends of each other. In this case, I feel like I'm a fairly open minded reader and the book itself is we ...more
Jun 06, 2010 Elysabeth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I've been putting off reading this book because the reviews were so tepid, but I absolutely loved it. I enjoyed the rich texture of all of the characters and the commingling of their ethnic backgrounds and attractions to one another. I also really loved the backdrop of the East Village and the city as a whole for this novel -- it sort of felt like a sexy, sad, incredibly modern fable of the fluctuating life of new immigrants who are trying to create a different kind of American dream.

I loved it
Saya Hashimoto
Sep 13, 2010 Saya Hashimoto rated it liked it
You can tell it's a first book but it's pretty good too. As an English teacher myself I appreciated the way the author used his knowledge of speakers of English as a foreign language to flesh out the characters' personalities.
Jul 06, 2007 Erik rated it it was ok
A solid debut, a nice book for the author to build their career upon. The writing was a bit sloppy at points and at times the novel felt disjointed, but not so much that it took away from the enjoyment of the writing.
Nov 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Loved Yurika Song's fascination with the NYC bike messengers. Loved Yurika. An illuminating corner of the Big City.
Recommended by Adrienne,
Aug 19, 2007 Margaret rated it it was amazing
adachi has it down, japanese, korean, koreans in japan, koreans in the states, this is a good book!
Nov 20, 2008 Anna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I loved the premise of this book much more than the book itself.

Jun 22, 2008 Becky rated it really liked it
Really cute story about a girl who comes to New York to learn English
Aug 21, 2007 Diane rated it liked it
Not bad for a first novel - a quick read that held my attention.
Dec 25, 2008 Arch marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
This is an interracial book.
Aug 06, 2007 Marietta is currently reading it
Recommends it for: all halvsie
this book was recommended to me by and its funny and cute and easy to read and in the point when it come to bi-racial people...
Alexis marked it as to-read
Jun 14, 2016
Darcy marked it as to-read
Jun 06, 2016
Audrey Chiao
Audrey Chiao marked it as to-read
Jul 23, 2016
Ron S
Ron S added it
Mar 24, 2016
Lawrence Tyree Library
Lawrence Tyree Library marked it as to-read
Feb 23, 2016
Marisa Repin
Marisa Repin rated it liked it
Feb 07, 2016
Tom added it
Jan 28, 2016
Evan marked it as to-read
Nov 28, 2015
Gillik rated it it was ok
Nov 13, 2015
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