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East Is East

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  2,366 ratings  ·  142 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 ...more
Paperback, Contemporary American Fiction, 384 pages
Published August 1st 1991 by Penguin Books (first published 1990)
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Average rating 3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,366 ratings  ·  142 reviews

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May 14, 2012 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
Jan 24, 2008 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.
Kim Mallady
Sep 01, 2009 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
Mar 01, 2017 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 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.
Dec 13, 2011 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 ...more
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
Feb 28, 2017 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 ...more
K. Lang-Slattery
Nov 10, 2014 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.

Oct 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
the colorful characters and almost outlandish premise would make for an entertaining screenplay!
Kim Zinkowski
Dec 05, 2017 rated it liked it
B. Interesting and entertaining story, although I did not care for the conclusion.
Mar 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Keystone Kops meet Heart of Darkness.
May 07, 2019 rated it did not like it
This was my choice for my family book club read and boy was I disappointed. I really like the other books I've read by TC Boyle so I specifically chose one of his. I guess it shows that this is one of his earlier works; he comes off as a little arrogant. The mother who is (only) celebrating her 71st birthday is described as so old to be almost on her death bed; none of the characters are likable, there is a lot of cultural stereotyping going on, it's not clear to whom this story actually ...more
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was ok
The book was okay. At first it started out cool and fun to read but at some point the prose just became unnecessarily long. I also hate Ruth, and she's not even the type of character who's fun to hate, I just really hate her. All in all, the book is an interesting commentary on race relations, one of the few books I've read that tackles racism about Asians instead of African-Americans. I don't understand the point of Saxby being obsessed with fish, though. Just seemed boring.
Somewhere, and I don’t know where, I got the conviction in my head that there’s a good writer inside T.C. Boyle. The best I can figure it’s a combination of hope and approval of his choice to go with high-concept novel ideas instead of mulling on themes like divorce, being horny for the wrong people, the usual ideas that spur “literary fiction.” I read “The Inner Cycle” and it wasn’t great but it was an interesting premise, doing a novel about Kinsey and his group.

Truth be told, “East is East”
Tom Baker
Sep 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first TC Boyle book that I have read. Boyle can write beautifully and he has a great sense of the quirks of personality in his characters. This book has depth beyond the words and humor. The racism that has again raised its ugly head here in the US is reflected in this book and the illegal immigrant subject is of our daily headlines. Quirky book, good plot line and great writing.
patty ramona
Sep 23, 2018 rated it liked it
My high hopes for this story fell short. Love the writer, the premise, the set and setting, the beautiful descriptives, but felt empathy for only one character — Hiro, the Japanese American.

Could it be because I read this book on the heels of a four-book Murakami run?
Zvi Volk
Nov 10, 2016 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.
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bob Peru
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
one of my top 5 or so fave writers.
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing Poor Hiro. The Japanese culture is so intense.
Aug 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Goofy to the point of being uncool, like a Hawaiian shirt. This is a light, well-plotted farce about bigotry from every direction.
Sandie Brown
Jul 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good read.exactly how non whites are treated.funny in places and quite sad in places
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very good writing. Disappointed at the ending.
Nov 22, 2019 rated it did not like it
He gave up midway and forgot to give it an ending. Worst TCB book I’ve read.
Aug 25, 2015 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 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,
Dec 27, 2013 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
Jan 18, 2011 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
Feb 17, 2016 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,
Oct 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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T. Coraghessan Boyle (also known as T.C. Boyle, is a U.S. novelist and short story writer. Since the late 1970s, he has published seventeen novels and eleven collections of 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 Distinguished Professor of English at the ...more
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