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May 2018: Family Drama > Go: A Coming of Age Novel (3 Stars)

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Jeremiah Cunningham | 717 comments Go: A Coming of Age Novel by Kazuki Kaneshiro, Takami Nieda (Translator)
3 out of 5 Stars


As a Korean student in a Japanese high school, Sugihara has had to defend himself against all kinds of bullies. But nothing could have prepared him for the heartache he feels when he falls hopelessly in love with a Japanese girl named Sakurai. Immersed in their shared love for classical music and foreign movies, the two gradually grow closer and closer.

This was the second book I have read this year that dealt with the treatment of North Koreans living in Japan. While this was not my favorite read and it was fiction, I find the level of racism and discrimination against Koreans in Japan to be terribly disturbing and something I was not aware of until reading these books.

The Positives of Go: A Coming of Age Novel
Although a fictional account, I find learning about the culture that surrounds Koreans living in Japan to be very interesting. As Americans we often get the idea that racism is a uniquely American problem. We have convinced ourselves that everyone else in the world is better at tolerance than we are. However, when you read accounts like this it is a stark reminder that issue of racism, nationalism, and discrimination are not unique to any nation.

The Negatives of Go: A Coming of Age Novel
Maybe it was due to the novel being a translation, but the story was very choppy. The choppiness of the story made it really difficult to understand the timing and the relationships between all the characters. The flow of the novel just never really developed and in fact the book read more like a series of novellas rather than one complete story.


message 2: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6735 comments Great review, JW. Was the other book, Pachinko? Which did you prefer of the two? I read Pachinko already so just curious. This sounds quite good, and I have a high tolerance for books that seem more like short stories or novellas . . .


Jeremiah Cunningham | 717 comments Anita -- First of all, thank you for commenting on my review. This was a Kindle First and so not in the mainstream yet. I read a lot of books that are not in the mainstream and it is always nice to get some activity on a review. Hard to see a review sit there with no comments.

Second, I have not read Pachinko. I will have to put that one on my list. The one I read was A River in Darkness: One Man's Escape From North Korea. It was another Kindle First book I believe.

Both of these explored the racism between Korea and Japan, although A River in Darkness focused more on the trials of life in North Korea after leaving Japan while Go focused more on staying in Japan.

This is a world I really knew nothing about before these books.


message 4: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6735 comments Oh, I think I saw this one on Kindle First! It sounded familiar. I asked about Pachinko because that book is about the same issues with Koreans living in Japan . . .and like you, I knew so little about it!! So it is interesting that there are three current books addressing this topic right now.

Great that you try the less read books . . .I so rarely do that. Requires some bravery and an adventurous nature!


message 5: by Joi (new) - added it

Joi (missjoious) | 3834 comments Thanks for the review, I've added this to my TBR. I noticed it's only 188 pages? Seems pretty short given the scope of the novel, and the topic.

And I will second Anita's Pachinko recommendation. It's a doorstopper, but well worth it.


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