Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon

The Current Reading List

Posted in Uncategorized by bourdaghs on the May 2nd, 2012

Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding (2011). The much-celebrated debut novel tracing the sentimental education of a promising young shortstop for the Westish College baseball team. I think I came to this a victim of inflated expectations; it’s a good novel, yes, with two or three marvelously constructed characters and a handful of scenes that spring vividly to life as you read them (the last page, for example). But these come embedded in 500+ pages of text. It’s as if F. Scott Fitgerald had launched his career with The Beautiful and the Damned instead of This Side of Paradise.

Marvin Sterling, Babylon East: Performing Dancehall, Roots Reggae and Rastafari in Japan (2010). A compelling experiment in multi-sited ethnography: what happens when Jamaican music travels to postmodern Japan? And what happens when its Japanese devotees start winning international sound system and dancehall queen contests–including back home in Jamaica? Sterling unpacks the complexities of contemporary global discourses on race, cultural tradition, and gender.

Ogawa Yoko 小川洋子, 『妊娠カレンダー』 (Ninshin karendaa, Pregnancy calendar, 1994). Ogawa’s 1991 Akutagawa Prize winning novella, in which a younger sister narrates diary-style and with something less than complete sympathy her older sister’s pregnancy, plus two other works by one of Japan’s most popular novelists of the last two decades.

Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games (2008). I’m reading this at the insistence of my 15-year-old, but am in fact enjoying my adventures with Katniss and her rivals and friends, even as I unavoidably keep flashing back to Battle Royale.

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