Book review wrap-up from NZ, India and Japan

The Girl Below, book review, new book, novelLet's check out the books being reviewed by our neighbours around the Asia Pacific region through some of the leading national newspapers - there are a few surprises and hidden treasures.

Starting with our Kiwi friends at The New Zealand Herald, The Girl Below by Bianca Zander was reviewed by Paula Green, herself an Auckland poet and children's author. "The central character, Suki Piper, returns to London after a decade in Auckland and for many reasons she occupies a world out-of-kilter." Paula loved the aptly named debut novel saying, “You might think there is a high risk of superficial stereotypes at work here (a cranky stepmother, a selfish father, a distant mother, spiteful friends). Far from it.”

Zoo Time by Howard Jacobson was reviewed by John Gardner, also of The New Zealand Herald, who is pleased with the entertainment value of the cast of characters in this story of a novelist surrounded by the collapse of the literary world. “Ableman's (protagonist) mind is wild, dirty and whirling but Jacobson's prose is always under tight control as he shifts in time and setting in language that is bursting with energy but completely disciplined.”

Friends Forver, Danielle Steel, book review, new book, novel, fiction Now for a quick dash to the sub-continent where Friends Forever by Danielle Steel was reviewed by Asha Chowdary of The Times of India, Chowdary lets us know that it is extremely sad story although she had expectated a light-hearted and endearing read about five friends. “But suddenly, like a tornado, a spate of tragedies begin and we are hurled right into the middle of one dismal scenario after another.”

Killer Heels by Rebecca Chance was also reviewed by Asha Chowdary of The Times of India, whose review reads at first like a fashion industry job advertisement. Chowdary finds it a worthwhile insight into the fashion world and all the ins and outs of that competitive industry, “But the unnecessary dwelling on the intimate goings on in their (the characters) private lives gets far too tiresome.”

The Beautiful One has Come, new book, novel, book review The Beautiful One Has Come by Susan Kamata was reviewed by Kris Kosaka of The Japan Times who has plenty of praise for this series of short stories. She reiterates the stories' beautiful exploration of humanity throughout her review, to this essential effect: “As Kamata cleverly reveals with her restrained prose, humanity possesses a wabi sabi charm, a tarnished imperfection that nevertheless gleams with muted beauty.”

Ways of Forgetting, Ways of Remembering: Japan in the Modern World
by John W Dower was reviewed by Jeff Kingston of The Japan Times. This book is a discussion of how history is “beautified”, narratives manipulated and truths marginalised for political purposes, specifically war history. This review simply outlines this in the context of Dower's book, how he discusses these ambiguities and which examples throughout history he chooses to draw upon.

- Josiah Hallett


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