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message 1: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1608 comments Mod
Thank you to George for reminding me to post this month's discussion. Here are a few questions to get us started but feel free to use this topic for other questions about this month's topic too.

1. Asian literature is rather broad as a topic since there is such a wide diversity of Asian literature. Which book did you read and who well do you think it represented the perspective of the Asian country, author, or people represented in the book?

2. I think we've may have covered this but what is your own background in terms of ethnicity, or country of origin?

3. Have you read much Asian literature? Who are your favorite Asian or Asian American authors?

4. Have you ever traveled to any Asian country (for those born in US or non-Asian countries)? Which ones and what did you learn? If not, which countries are you most interested in visiting and learning about whether through literature or travel?


Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 894 comments 1. I read Democracy and it didn't feel at all like Asian literature. It was all about Hawaii in my mind.

2. European white, with all my ancestors having come to USA in 1600s.

3. Very little. I have enjoyed those that I have read though and hope to do better.

4. Yes, I have been to Guam, South Korea, the Philippines and Okinawa, Japan -- all in the early 1980s when I was in the Air Force.


message 3: by Tracy (new)

Tracy (tstan) | 559 comments I read The Siege of Krishnapur. It was set in India, and one character voiced the Indian perspective of the British settling there, but his opinions were largely ignored. Mostly, it was from a white person perspective, but with an almost sarcastic undertone. It was well written, with humor. I’m going to be ruminating on it for a while.

White.

I’ve read quite a few books by Asian and Asian American authors, but there’s always more... Two of my favorites are Haruki Murakami and Salman Rushdie.

I have not- the only other country I’ve been to is Canada. Someday!


message 4: by Diane (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments 1. Asian literature is rather broad as a topic since there is such a wide diversity of Asian literature. Which book did you read and who well do you think it represented the perspective of the Asian country, author, or people represented in the book?

For my first book, I chose Kokoro. I felt it was a perfect choice since it was both written by an Asian author and set in an Asian country. It was a good representation of the Japanese culture during a transitional time in it's history. It showed a great contrast between traditional beliefs and the beginnings of a more modern culture. This book is amazing and I highly recommend it.

For my second book, I chose Untouchable, also written by an Asian author and set in Asia. I have always been fascinated by India. I have always been curious about the caste system there. Many books on India seem to be centered on characters of upper castes and most Indian immigrants to the US tend to be from the upper castes. This book provided insight about what it is like to be a member of the Dalits, the lowermost caste in India.


2. I think we've may have covered this but what is your own background in terms of ethnicity, or country of origin?

I am of European origin, with my father's family from France and my mother's family primarily from British Isles stock settled here in the 1600s (18 years after the Mayflower).


3. Have you read much Asian literature? Who are your favorite Asian or Asian American authors?

I have read a lot of Asian literature. Some of my favorite Asian and Asian-American authors include Vikram Seth, Jhumpa Lahiri, Khaled Hosseini, Yukio Mishima, Amy Tan, Lisa See, Robinson Mistry, Mohsin Hamid, and many more.

4. Have you ever traveled to any Asian country (for those born in US or non-Asian countries)? Which ones and what did you learn? If not, which countries are you most interested in visiting and learning about whether through literature or travel?

Sadly, Asia and Africa are my two least-travelled continents. The only part of Asia I have been to is the Asian side of Turkey. I hope to change that soon. I fell in love with Turkey and it's culture. I would love to travel to India and the Far East someday. I have visited all of the Asian countries through literature and cooking, but it isn't quite the same.


message 5: by Chinook (last edited May 23, 2018 07:01AM) (new)

Chinook | 282 comments 1. I read Paradise of the Blind -I thought it was amazing. It’s about the aftermath of the war in Vietnam but also includes the perspective of a foreign worker in Russia, which wasn’t something I knew much about before this book. I feel like in the West we largely think of immigration or migrating for work to happen to the West and we forget that it’s very common elsewhere as well.

2. I’m a white Canadian. Living in Scotland, technically part of my heritage, made me realize that though my ancestors may have been from the UK and Ireland, I am not Scottish nor any other European group. To call myself Scottish Canadian would be silly since I’m so far removed from actual Scottish culture. That said, I’ve been an expat since I finished university, living in Scotland, South Korea and the US.

3. I’ve read a decent amount of Asian lit, though more contemporary novels or non-fiction than any of the classics. I wouldn’t say I have a favourite author, but I’m partial to Korean authors because of my time there.

4. I lived in South Korea for a decade and did some travelling while there. I visited Japan briefly - just a week while I was doing a visa run, to Osaka and Kyoto. I’ve been to both Hong Kong and Taiwan, but never did make it to mainland China. I visited Cambodia, The Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, East Timor, Singapore, Brunei, and Vietnam for a week or two each. I’ve also been on two very short trips into North Korea, back when the boarder with the South was open.

I would very much like to see Laos and Myanmar/Burma, as that would be every country in SE Asia. And I’d love to go to India on a long, several month trip. However my travelling days are definitely on hold with the kids and the subsequent lack of travel money.


message 6: by Pip (new)

Pip | 1481 comments 1. I have not quite finished listening to the Audible version of Kokoro. I think it is really representative of Japanese literature. It is set at a very interesting time, with the death of Emperor Meiji taking place during the novel. It focuses on how Japanese life is changing, on the contrast between country life and city life and between two students of succeeding generations. I always get the impression of life being lived in its essence, with emphasis on beauty and restraint, even when reading Murakami! This may be just my admiration for Japanses culture.
2. Well, this is fascinating because I recently had my DNA tested and I am 64% Scandinavian. Being adopted, I had no idea that my father was a U.S. Marine, in New Zealand during the Second World War. There is a whole heritage that I am almost completely ignorant of. Happily I am embarking on my first trip to Scandinavia next month. No time to delve into what relatives might be there this time, but I do have a great nephew and great niece in California, so will visit them in the next year or so. The other 36% of my DNA is English and Scottish.
3. I suppose I have read quite a bit: Timothy Mo from Hong Kong and Nury Vittachi too; Vikram Seth, Amitav Gosh, Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai, Jhumpa Lahiri, V.S.Naipul are just some from India, Michael Ondaatje, Shehan Karunatilaka and Michelle de Kretser from Sri Lanka, and Mo Yan, Dai Sijie and Pearl Buck from China.
4. I lived in Hong Kong for 16 years, Sri Lanka for 3 and spent a lot of time in China. I have visited every country in Asia except Burma, Taiwan and North Korea, many of them multiple times. I love the different cultures, especially Vietnam, but learnt that it is best not to travel there with American or French friends! The ones I most want to return to are Japan and Bhutan. We visit Sri Lanka almost annually. We are probably off to the Philippines and China later this year.


message 7: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4259 comments Mod
1. Asian literature is rather broad as a topic since there is such a wide diversity of Asian literature. Which book did you read and who well do you think it represented the perspective of the Asian country, author, or people represented in the book?

I read The Siege of Krishnapur by Farrell. I really enjoyed it which is something when what you’re reading is the story of a siege. A siege is not a pretty thing. This book covers a lot; Victorian culture, manners and feeling superior to the people of India. It is a book of colonialism. The author does a lot in this book with humor. I appreciated how well he addressed the issues of religion, science, medicine, art, superiority of cultures, etc.

2. I think we've may have covered this but what is your own background in terms of ethnicity, or country of origin? Caucasian, United States, Christian.

3. Have you read much Asian literature? Who are your favorite Asian or Asian American authors? Yes, I think I have read a fair amount of Asian literature. I have several favorites but have to think about who would be more favorite.

4. Have you ever traveled to any Asian country (for those born in US or non-Asian countries)? Which ones and what did you learn? If not, which countries are you most interested in visiting and learning about whether through literature or travel? None, by my son was married to a Chinese citizen and he and my daughter traveled to China to visit her relatives. I did not get to go but enjoyed the experience vicariously.


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