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East Is East

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  2,473 ratings  ·  148 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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Average rating 3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,473 ratings  ·  148 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. ...more
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
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.

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. ...more
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.
James Vogts
Jun 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read this for the first time 30 years ago. Not Boyle’s best but still very inventive and entertaining.
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 whimsical ...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 readi
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 cultu ...more
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.
Oct 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
the colorful characters and almost outlandish premise would make for an entertaining screenplay!
Mar 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Keystone Kops meet Heart of Darkness.
Kim Zinkowski
Dec 05, 2017 rated it liked it
B. Interesting and entertaining story, although I did not care for the conclusion.
Jun 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Hiro is a young seaman, half Japanese and half American, who dives overboard near the coast of a Georgia island. A tony writer’s retreat on the island becomes his safe haven for a while, as Ruth Dershowitz surreptitiously shares her lunch with him, brings him clothes, and helps him hide from the authorities. Ruth is not the same caliber of writer as some of her housemates, but she is the girlfriend of the owner’s son, Saxby. This novel is primarily Ruth’s story, and T.C. Boyle does not disappoin ...more
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 belongs ...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. ...more
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” d
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?
Apr 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Malice and tragedy drive this novel. Our hero, Hiro, is forced to jump ship and ends up on a swampy island in an artist's colony. Artists, rednecks, inept police. Racial misunderstandings - all a part of this three-ring circus. ...more
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.
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
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing Poor Hiro. The Japanese culture is so intense.
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very good writing. Disappointed at the ending.
Bob Peru
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
one of my top 5 or so fave writers.
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.
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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.
Nancy B
May 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
The book reminded me of Carl Hiaasen’s Florida stories.
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, curio
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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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