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East Is East (Contemporary American Fiction)

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3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  2,054 Ratings  ·  129 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
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Paperback, Contemporary American Fiction, 384 pages
Published August 1st 1991 by Penguin Books (first published 1990)
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(showing 1-30)
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Kim
Sep 01, 2009 Kim rated it really liked it
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
Rob
May 14, 2012 Rob rated it really liked it
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, ...more
Lynne
Jan 24, 2008 Lynne rated it it was ok
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.
Snotchocheez
Dec 13, 2011 Snotchocheez rated it really liked it
(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
Fiona
Mar 01, 2017 Fiona rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting read with T.C Boyle's usual raw imagery and quirky story line. Although I wasn't drawn into it immediately, there came a point where I suddenly couldn't put it down. A gripping multicultural story about travel and identity.
Peg Lotvin
Sep 28, 2016 Peg Lotvin rated it really liked it
Read this long long ago and the memory is dimming. Another T.C/. Boyle with lovely lovely writing and his typically 90 degree off normal slant on things.
Laura
Feb 05, 2017 Laura rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
Quizá es el más flojo de Boyle pero es un 5 estrellas IGUAL porque es un Boyle y cualquier Boyle es siempre GENIAL.
K. Lang-Slattery
Nov 10, 2014 K. Lang-Slattery rated it it was amazing
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.

devonlorraine
Oct 18, 2007 devonlorraine rated it really liked it
the colorful characters and almost outlandish premise would make for an entertaining screenplay!
Zvi Volk
Nov 10, 2016 Zvi Volk rated it liked it
I guess I liked this book but not as much as Drop City. The characters seemed a bit too predictable even if this was a kind of madcap adventure. It was ok but not much more than that.
Eglizard
Mar 22, 2017 Eglizard rated it liked it
Keystone Kops meet Heart of Darkness.
Annina
Feb 28, 2017 Annina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because Stepehn King mentioned it in his biography. He described life in the Thanatopsis artist colony and that made me want to read the whole story. The story was interesting enough to finish it in a few days and I liked the way Boyle used japanese words in Hiros chapters. But Ruth Dershowitz... she was annoying. The woman lives in a perfect world for every writer an all she's concerned about is her social status and her looks. Interesting because you learn about japanese cultu ...more
Natasha
I'm giving this book 3 stars, though I guess it would be closer to 3.5 stars if I could do that. Boyle is an amazing writer, with perfect analogies and atmospheric environmental descriptions, and the plot was generally exciting and well thought-out. But the book could have been shorter by cutting out some unnecessarily slow pacing and repetition. I liked it, I really did, but it just didn't hook me enough for me to round it up to 4 stars.

And now onto my general thoughts and ramblings while readi
...more
Myriam
Aug 25, 2015 Myriam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tc-boyle
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 music..it 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
...more
Sara
Dec 27, 2013 Sara rated it it was amazing
"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
Franziska
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
...more
JudithAnn
Jan 18, 2011 JudithAnn rated it really liked it
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
...more
Eric
Feb 17, 2016 Eric rated it it was amazing
I'd read a book of Boyle's short stories "Descent Of Man" last summer and enjoyed the rather quirky approach that most of them took. Very unusual and unique ideas and concepts explored...just right. So I picked this up for $5.00 and wasn't let down. Essentially, it's a fish-out-of-water story, a look at the myth of American acceptance, and the pretensions of literary figures.

The story starts with a Japanese sailor abandons ship after a scuffle on board and heads to America on a life-ring. Hiro,
...more
Rose
May 12, 2010 Rose rated it liked it
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
...more
Linda
Oct 20, 2013 Linda rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael
Feb 07, 2008 Michael rated it it was amazing
(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
...more
Mark
Aug 20, 2014 Mark rated it did not like it
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
...more
LJ Peters
Jul 05, 2014 LJ Peters rated it liked it
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
Liz
Nov 07, 2008 Liz rated it really liked it
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
Don
Sep 05, 2011 Don rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Lisa
Feb 06, 2009 Lisa rated it liked it
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
Feral
Sep 15, 2013 Feral rated it really liked it
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
Michelle
Nov 13, 2008 Michelle rated it really liked it
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
Jenne
Mar 31, 2010 Jenne rated it it was ok
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
...more
Michael
Aug 30, 2015 Michael rated it really liked it
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
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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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