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East Is East

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  1,839 ratings  ·  115 reviews
Young Japanese seaman Hiro Tanaka, inspired by dreams of the City of Brotherly Love and trained in the ways of the samurai, jumps ship off the coast of Georgia and swims into a net of rabid rednecks, genteel ladies, descendants of slaves, and the denizens of an artists' colony. In the hands of T. Coraghessan Boyle, praised by Digby Diehl in Playboy as "one of the most exci ...more
Paperback, Contemporary American Fiction, 384 pages
Published August 1st 1991 by Penguin Books (first published 1990)
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Community Reviews

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I found this book to be thoroughly enjoyable from the first paragraph to the very last word. It was an easy read and a fun story but still had depth. It's the story of searching for one's identity and place in the world, of prejudice and preconceived notions, of misunderstandings. Hiro Tanaka is born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a white father who abandoned them before he was born. As a half-breed he is never accepted in Japan, so at the age of 20 he decides to get a job as a cook on a ship ...more
One thing T.C. Boyle does better than just about anyone else is tackling the Big Ideas without looking like he's tackling them. In East Is East Boyle gives us a story that, in summary, appears to be a straightforward genre exercise about a manhunt for a Japanese immigrant on a small island off the coast of Georgia. Of course what Boyle's really dealing with are issues like honor, the fickleness of art (and artists), American and Japanese prejudice, and the corrosive influence of jealousy. And, a ...more
Jan 24, 2008 Lynne rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Marie
This is the 4th TC Boyle book I have read and I gotta say, I don't like him. His books start out so great and the writing is beautiful but as a story teller phew. Around the middle of the story you start to have to make yourself finish the book and I have not liked one ending of any of his books. But hey that is just me. This is college core reading, just the kind of thing a lit prof would want you to read, and wish they had written.
(this is volume two of a strange coincidental random three-book tour of the waterlands of the SE United States, starting with the beaches of South Carolina [in the execrably maudlin goo-fest that is David Baldacci's "One Summer"], then traveling further south to the islands (and the vast Okefenokee Swamp) girding Savannah, Georgia [in this book, "East is East"], and finally landing in South Florida around the 10,000 Islands/Lake Okeechobee swamplands [in {duh} Swamplandia!, wonderfully whimsical ...more
English is not my first language so I first was wondering if reading TC Boyle in original language was not too ambitious of me (even if I read "San Miguel" in English too).
Anyway, with East is East, I was engulfed very quickly in the story, as usual with this author, and I enjoyed every line of it, the rythm and the all came back very naturally. Few time ago I also read The Women about Frank Lloyd wright, and the narrator also being a Japanese-American, I kind of connected again, curio
Off The Shelf
Pronoy Sarkar reviewed East is East on

The Writer Who Made Me Cry On the Ride to Work by Pronoy Sarkar

One evening, I was listening to a podcast of novelist Margaret Atwood, who observed, “Because what is writing, what is writing in a book, what is a page? A page is essentially a score, like a musical, or it’s a score for voice.” I was struck by it.

Just a few days later I came across a story by T.C. Boyle called the “Relive Box.” I was reading it one morning on my way to work. I
K. Lang-Slattery
Great T.C. Boyle style. Interesting characters. Satire and humor with pathos for the underdog.
Young mixed-blood Japanese seaman jumps ship off the Georgia coast and comes ashore on a swampy island inhabited by red-necks, negroes, and an elite creative artist and writers retreat. Hilarious and sad events involve his efforts to stay alive in the swamp, to get off the island. The contrasting cultures of Japan and the American south are on a collision course.

Aug 23, 2014 Mark rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: yuck
It is not often (these days) I add something to my yuck shelf. (This is the first one in a long time)- I have tried to both be fair with other writers and also, the first yuck purge was of books I have mostly had political hardships with.
This book however I felt was pretty gross. This might be an accomplishment of itself for some writers, it does not wash though in my universe. I am not going to tell you the ending so I don;t "spoil your experience" but it is in the realm of other books that lef
LJ Peters
At the heart of this epic adventure is the quest for human acceptance and understanding. The expectation of these things fuels the dramatic turbine, propelling the story forward. Written from the point of view of a rotating cast of characters, their motives encompass everything from the viciously superficial to the task of survival itself. Set mostly on Tupelo Island around an 'artist colony', residents work on creative pursuits, in separate huts throughout the day and engage in cocktails and 's ...more
"He was swimming, rotating from front to back, thrashing his arms and legs and puffing out his cheeks, and it seemed as if he'd been swimming forever. He did the crawl, the breaststroke, the yokohama kick. Tiring, he clung to the cork life ring like some shapeless creature from the depths, a pale certificate of flesh. Sometime during the fifth hour, he began to think of soup. Miso-shiru, rice chowder, the thin sea-stinking broth his grandmother would make of fish and eel. And then he thought of ...more
the colorful characters and almost outlandish premise would make for an entertaining screenplay!
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Mitte des 18. Jahrhunderts in Japan: Ein japanisches Handelsschiff wird auf dem Weg nach Edo von einem Sturm heimgesucht und treibt monatelang auf offener See. Schließlich strandet die Mannschaft von Kapitän Kodayu an einer Insel - und muss feststellen, dass Klima und die "dämonenhaften" Bewohner so gar nicht Japan ähneln, sie also weit weg von ihrer Heimat sind.
Zufälligerweise sind auch Russen auf der (Aleuten-)Insel, bei denen sie Unterkunft finden - Verständigen können sie sich mit ihnen nat
I was prepared to like TC Boyle more than I did-- I'm not really sure, but I think I heard something from someone that maybe sounded like he’d be my type. At the same time, I might be thinking of TS Eliot. Anyway. I didn’t know much while going into this book, but I was prepared to be very, very happy and a little amazed.

It didn’t happen. The story is set in a heavy Georgia summer, and Boyle talks of how the air is thick, is overrun, with mosquitos. That’s kind of how this book is with its adje
Hiro Tanaka is a Japanese sailor with an unknown American father. He grew up in Japan and has always felt (and looked) an outsider. When the ship he’s working on nears the American coast, he jumps overboard and swims to shore.

He lands at Georgia near an artists’ colony. Here works Ruth Dershowitz, a beginning writer. She is the second main character of the book.

Ruth is very keen to become a successful writer but the story she works on does not progress very well. When she has the chance to hide
(Just re-read this again off my own shelves, and am equally impressed as the first time a few years ago. Maybe more. I am thinking how cool it would have been if Hiro had further adventures on the "mainrand". The swamp part, I get it, was awesome, but why not go on to The City Of Brotherly Love? This story could have easily gone into book two or three. Anyway, this is a book I reaad twice and liked even better the second time. Highly recommended.)

This book was hilarious and subversive, right up
Comic, tragic - an easy satirical read but with subtle claws that stick in you. A woebegone mixed-race Japanese sailor abandons ship and ends up in the swamplands of the American south in a writers colony - which sounds like an Elmore Leonard plot line, but actually becomes something quite different. The best pieces are the inner monologue of Hiro Tanaka and the ambitious, possibly-self-deluded American Jewish author who sees him as an escape from her artistic rut. There is some violence, some c ...more
Nov 26, 2008 Liz rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Liz by: John and Robin Hoy
#1 This is especially fun because it takes place in my neighborhood. He talks about Tupelo Island but he's really talking about Sapelo Island. The old Gullah community is still there and still called Hog Hammock. I'll have to check if the artist's retreat is real or not. But they make trips to Darien and Sea Island, both just up the road. Boyle researches amazingly well. He also includes some Japanese background in this story of clashing cultures. I don't really like any of the characters but th ...more
Не очень честно писать что-либо об этой книге, т.к. я не смогла ее дочитать. Ниасилила, одним словом:) Я честно прочитала половину и у меня было впечатление, что меня окутывает липкая, зловонная паутина и нахожусь я в тех самых болотах, из книги и трудно дышать и продираешься сквозь повествование с интересом, но с большим усилием. Я сдалась, посмотрела, чем все это закончится, поняла, что это роман не для меня и бросила.
Started out strongly but somewhere along the way I feel Boyle lost his focus. American culture viewed through Japanese eyes was done so well in the beginning, but devolved into simple mispronunciations (really . . . mainrand?). It seems this was done to make room for lengthy depictions of Ruth coming to terms with her own insecurities; not a terrible exploration in and of itself, but quite disappointing in the context of what I was led to believe this novel would depict.

This was not, as the NY
I read this after A Friend of the Earth and was disappointed. it starts well, love his writing, love what he does with the main female character. But something leaves me feeling let down at the end. Not sure why, really. It's still a good book, just not at the top of his list. If you don't like this one, try one of his other books.
Oct 04, 2010 Jenne rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jenne by: Howie
Hmm, not sure how I feel about this book.

I did like the writing a lot; I have a really good picture in my head of the island and the houses and people and the food and everything--it's all very lush and southern and jungly-steamy.

On the other hand, the plot. Idiot Japanese guy (who is obsessed with Mishima, which is kind of like being obsessed with Ayn Rand) is sort of shipwrecked and crashing around in the underbrush, and a bunch of idiot Americans think he's some kind of dangerous criminal, h
I wish there was a way to do half stars because I debated between 3 & 4 stars... East is East follows two people (Hiro & Ruth). Hiro is a shipwrecked Japanese man running from the INS and Police who believe he committed murder. He had come to the United States to find his American father because he never felt like he fit in in Japan. The other, Ruth, is an undistinguished writer living among much more noteworthy authors in an artists' colony. By hiding Hiro, Ruth finds a voice for her st ...more
Offspring of a young Japanese woman and a spaced-out American hippie briefly entranced with Japan, Hiro Tanaka grows up scorned as a half-breed in his racially pure homeland. So when he nears America aboard the sailing vessel on which he serves as cook's assistant, Hiro literally jumps ship. He's sure that in America a man of mixed race can easily fit in, but he's in for a big surprise. Landing on Tupelo Island near Georgia, he inadvertently frightens a number of witless residents and thus finds ...more
Great book. T.C. Boyle's books always wish a few certain writer friends of mine would finish their novels. This book manages to move from cover to cover without one entirely sympathetic character. It is a dance of prejudice and misunderstanding set in a writer's colony on an island in the deep south. He comes very close to allowing the book's perspective to be as prejudiced as his characters, but manages to skirt by - a little too close in the cat fight dynamic between two female characters. The ...more
I was barely able to get through this one.... it was just "interesting" enough that I could finish it. I guess I don't have the sense of humor to enjoy "black farce" type books or "savage comedy" (taken from reviews). I'm OK with that. :)
Della Scott
May 05, 2014 Della Scott marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
I'd never have read this book if it hadn't been personally recommended to me by Stephen King himself! I'd have liked to have given it three and a half stars because I didn't find the characters particularly compelling (Boyle relies heavily on caricature) and I thought that he struggled a bit to create an authentic female protagonist. But the story itself was terrific and Boyle can really write a great line—"When the sun had shifted in the sky and the egg of the egg sandwich had passed from inedi ...more
Неплохая, интересная книжка.
Хотя и не без банальностей (особенно в сюжете).
One of my new favorite authors, I just love TC Boyle. This was a fun book, funny and filled with offbeat characters. It could have wrapped up a bit sooner, but I got the sense the author was having some fun poking fun at other writers at the "artist colony" in the book. The book seems a little dated in that the young man who jumps ship is Japanese and so it also makes fun of Americans' stereotypes of Japanese and their stereotypes of us. Still, a fun fast read and I'm thinking I'll go out and bu ...more
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T. Coraghessan Boyle (also known as T.C. Boyle, born Thomas John Boyle on December 2, 1948) is a U.S. novelist and short story writer. Since the late 1970s, he has published eleven novels and more than 60 short stories. He won the PEN/Faulkner award in 1988 for his third novel, World's End, which recounts 300 years in upstate New York. He is married with three children. Boyle has been a Distinguis ...more
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