Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “culture clash”

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #68 Turning Japanese by Cathy Yardley

Amid all the Darkover Novels, dystopian stories and Dark Hunter romances, I found time to squeeze in a novel I picked up on sale at Chapters.  Turning Japanese is a witty and entertaining, if somewhat self-indulgent, fictional tale of a half Japanese, half Italian-American young manga artist from a small town who wins an internship in Tokyo for a year.

Lisa Falloya has been reading manga for years when she wins the contest offered by one of the comic publishers in Tokyo.  She soon finds herself leaving a boring desk job and workaholic fiancé behind for a year as she moves to Japan’s largest city where nothing goes quite as planned.

To discover why I could only give this novel 3 stars out of 5, read the rest of my review on my BookHoardingDragon blog.

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #63 The Bloody Sun by Marion Zimmer Bradley

 The Bloody Sun was the second Darkover novel that I ever read.  Friends of our across the street in Montreal had an enormous science-fiction fantasy collection… Ace books, the yellow spines of the DAW paperback books and other classics such as Dune, Lord Valentine’s Castle, I Robot and all the other delicious tales I discovered in my teens thanks to them.

The Bloody Sun captures the full essence of that pull between two worlds which Bradley became so famous for.  I actually own two copies of this story as listed below and keep both of them on my bookshelves.

The Bloody Sun is the story of Jeff Kerwin, born on Darkover and raised in the Terran Empire by his grandparents on Earth.  All of his longings draw him back into space, working on a series of planets until at last he requests a posting on the planet of his birth. Once he arrives,  he quickly becomes ensnared in a tangled web of deceit and mystery.  Why have his computer records been altered?  Why does no one at the Orphanage admit that he lived there as a child?  Why do some of the natives think that he is a Terran Spy destined to betray them?  What are these strange new powers awakening within him?

Bradley’s stories ooze with a truly unique blend of the deep longing to belong, the wrench between worlds and incredible characters that wrap themselves around your heart.  As the plot of this novel races on towards its conclusion, we share Jeff’s confusion as he tries to discover who and what he really is.  The narrative is so strong that a reader almost feels as if they are living this adventure along with the characters.  When you put The Bloody Sun down at the end and step  back into reality with a sigh of contentment, you know the author has done their job incredibly well.

Paperback format, 191 pages, published in 1964 by Ace Books.

Paperback format, 408 pages containing The Bloody Sun and To Keep The Oath,

published in 1982

Valyruh’s #CBR4 Review #55: The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger

The Newlyweds is about an inter-racial, cross-cultural marriage between George, an American 30-something man who has held off on marriage in hopes of finding a different but non-complicated woman, and Amina, an educated 24-year-old Bangladeshi looking for a way out of her impoverished country for herself and her immediate family. They meet through an internet site and after months of email exchanges, George goes to Bangladesh to meet her family, reluctantly agree to convert to Islam, and bring home his bride-to-be. George is enamored of Amina, but Amina is busy setting her timetable for achieving U.S. citizenship, to be followed by getting pregnant and bringing her parents home to live with her, Bangladeshi-style.

We are given the makings of a fascinating exploration of relationships and culture clash which, alas, is never realized. Instead, we are given boring details of Amina’s search for a job which never develops into anything of real interest; her sexual disinterest in George; her community college class which never develops into anything of real interest, and details about other characters’ lives which appear both incidental and also not very interesting. Indeed, The Newlyweds, at least in the first part of the book, takes on the quality of a soap opera: she seeks the friendship of George’s non-conformist cousin Kim, only to discover that George and Kim had had an affair during George and Amina’s long-distance courtship that had led to a quickly-aborted pregnancy. Feeling betrayed, Amina returns to Bangladesh to bring her parents back to the U.S. While there,  she gets embroiled in a violent feud among her father’s relatives and flirts with the idea of a quick love affair with her cousin.

Amina never attempts to fall in love with George, nor does she plan to leave him, as he is her golden ticket to an American life for herself and her parents. And so what sympathy I had for her character at the beginning of the book quickly dims, and by the end, it is George I find myself sympathizing with. Freudenberger’s attempted depiction of Bangladesh is interesting in part, but is quickly colored over by the petty feuding, criminality and violence she presents as somehow typically Bangladeshi in the latter part of her book. By the time the story ended, I was thoroughly disinterested in Amina’s marriage. In fact, I found more honest emotion and real poignancy in a short story called “The Thing Around Your Neck” by Ngozi Adichie, about a Nigerian woman newly arrived in America, and her inability to mesh American and African cultural values during an attempted romance with an American man. If this theme interests you, try reading Ngozi Adichie’s short story collection and leave The Newlyweds alone.

Post Navigation