Morikami Book Club

Open to all Morikami Members

Join Wisdom Ring member Christine Carton and fellow Morikami members as they start their new season of exciting book reading!

The group meets in Classroom A and orders lunch from the café. 

For more information please email Christine Carton at christinec@gate.net.

October 16

Hiroshima Boy by Naomi Hirahara –  a Prolific writer, Received the  Edgar Award –winning Author of the Mas Arai mystery series.
After surviving the atomic bomb in 1945,  Mas Arai returned to Hiroshima only once, fifty years ago, to find himself a bride. Now the retired 86 year old Los Angeles gardener is going back out of obligation, to deliver his best friend Haruo’s ashes to Haruo’s  sister. As soon as he arrives at her nursing home on a small Island off Hiroshima, he becomes embroiled in a mysterious death of a teenage boy who was about the same age Mas was when the Bomb fell. Mas knows he is too old to be chasing  murderer suspects, and being back to Hiroshima brings up terrifying memories, but he simply cannot ignore his curiosity  and desire for justice.

November 13

Snow Country by Nobel Prize Winner Kawabata  Yasunari
A powerful tale of wasted love set amid the desolate beauty of western Japan.
At an isolated mountain hot spring, with snow blanketing every surface Shimamura , a wealthy dilettante meets Komato a lowly Geisha. She gives herself to him fully and without remorse, despite knowing that the affair cannot last. In chronicling the course of the doomed romance, Kawabata has created a story for the ages.  Novel dense in implication and exalting in its sadness.

December 11

The Emissary by Yoko Tawada
Lighthearted meditation on morality. A quirky style and ability to jump from realism to abstraction. After suffering a massive irreparable disaster, Japan cuts itself off from the world. Children are born so weak they can barely walk; the only people with any get up and go are the elderly. Mumei lives with his always-worried great – grandfather Yoshiro, they carry on a day-to-day routine in what could be viewed, as a post –Fukushima time. Mumei may be frail and gray –haired but he is a beacon of hope:  Full of wit and free of self-pity. Deftly turning inside out the dystopian scenario, Yoko Tawada creates an irrepressibly funny playfully joyous novel.

January 8

The Soil – A Portrait of rural life in Meiji Japan by Nagatsuka Takashi
A richly detail novel fascinating and informative. Nagatsuka Takashi achieves a highly, visual story in which he builds up a picture of life in rural village, in intimate detail. It is the portrayal of a relationship between nature and man of such closeness that indeed, nature and man are on

February 12

The Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
We take journeys to explore exotic new places and to return to the comforts of home to visit old acquaintances and to make new friends.  The most important journey is the one that shows us how to follow our hearts. With a crooked tail -a sign of good fortune and adventurous spirit, Nana is a perfect companion for the man who took him in as a stray. And as they travel in a silver van across Japan with its ever-changing scenery and seasons, they will learn the true meaning of courage, gratitude loyalty and love.

March 11

Devils in Daylight  by Junichiro Tanizaki
Hauntingly Hitchcockian, Tanizaki laminates a murder mystery and psychological study onto rumination about the nature of fiction itself. One morning Takahashi a writer who has been up all night working is interrupted by a phone call from his old friend Sonomura. Barely able to contain his excitement Sinomura claims that he has cracked a secret cryptographic code based on Edgar Allen Poe’s The Gold Bug and now knows exactly when and where a murder will take place – but they must hurry if they want to witness the murder, because it will be happening that very night. Sonomura has a history of lunacy and playing the amateur detective so Takahashi is reluctant to believe him. Nevertheless, they stake out a secret location and through a tiny peephole becomes voyeurs at the scene of a shocking crime.

 

There will be two options on the same subject for the month of April. You may want to read both. One is a biography the other inspired by the real story.

April 15

The Commoner by John Burnham Schwartz
The novel – The narrator is Haruko, Empress of Japan in 1959.  At the age of 24 she marries the crown Prince, becoming the first non-aristocratic woman to enter the most hermetically sealed and mysterious monarchy in the world. She is met with cruelty and suspicion by the empress and her minions. Haruko suffers a mental breakdown yet she perseveres. Thirty years later now a princess herself  she plays a crucial role in persuading another woman Masako a rising star in the foreign ministry to accept the marriage proposal of Haruko’s son the crown prince.

Princess Masako Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne by Ben Hill
It is a fantasy of many young women to marry a handsome prince, and live a life of happy ever after. That is not how it turned out for Masako Owada. The royal household put pressure on the princess to produce a male heir, to prevent the dynasty from dying out. The complicated family dynamic when her sister in-law has a son, makes Masako’s life a troubled one

This book was banned in Japan and  is only now being published in Japanese.

May 13

Breaking Jewel by Makoto Oda
Set on an Island in the South Pacific during the final days of World War II when the tide had turned against Japan and the war had unmistakably become one of attrition. The Breaking Jewel offers a rare depiction of the war from the Japanese side, and captures the essence of Japan doomed imperial aims. The novel opens as a small force of Japanese soldiers prepares to defend to an insignificant island from full-scale assault by American force. The story centers on the squad leader Nakamura who resists the Americans to the end and had his comrades grapple with the idea of  “gyokusai’” translated as” breaking the jewel” or “pulverization of the gem”, a patriotic act of mass suicide in defense of the homeland.

June 10

Midsummer’s Equation by Keigo Higashino the author of Suspect X –  A Detective Galileo Mystery.
The physicist detective Yukawa, offers his expertise at a hearings on an offshore drilling proposal that promises to boost the nation’s economy, by providing access to rare metals. Locals fears the effects of the resulting environmental damage which threatens the local fishing industry and they are against the plan.  A fellow guest at the hotel, where the professor is lodging, is found at the base of the seaside cliff apparently dead from an accidental fall.  An autopsy reveals that guest actually died of carbon monoxide poisoning. The mystery deepens when the dead man is discovered to be a former homicide detective.

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