Japan is known for its beauty and rich history, but the country has a dark side that isn’t explored as much as it could be. Japan’s seedy underbelly is exposed by Ryu Murakami’s In The Miso Soup, which focuses on the sex trade and Tokyo nightlife. Kenji, a young tour guide, takes an American tourist called Frank on a journey. But Frank is far more sinister than he appears to be and it’s not long before Kenji is dragged into a nightmare he wishes he could escape from.
Haruki Murakami is known for writing surreal fiction, and that can be seen in After Dark. Taking place in a single night, the novel focuses on Eri and Mari Asai. The sisters are vastly different to each other, but are connected by a sense of loneliness. After Dark stirs up a lot of emotions, with Murakami using various techniques to keep the reader guessing what will happen next.
One of my goals for 2018 is to read more widely, and that involves becoming familiar with authors from different backgrounds. I recently picked up An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro. Ishiguro has established himself as a talented storyteller and I was drawn to the novel because of my fascination with Japan. The book features a post WW2 Japan recovering from its scars and looking towards the future.
The decay of civilisation has cropped up in several places, from Egypt to Rome. History has a habit of repeating itself and that’s the case with Firewalk by Chris Roberson. The supernatural thriller covers themes of decay and myth in the modern city of Recondito. It follows FBI agent Izzie Lefervre as she comes back to Recondito to deal with a case from her past. What starts off as an investigation into old evidence soon becomes a paranormal nightmare for Izzie. I was sent a free copy of Firewalk in exchange for an honest review.
Short story collections and novels have the ability to make us feel, yet poetry collections seem to exist in another world. They’re a lot shorter, which means the writer has to do a lot more to make each section resonate. There’s also the chance to be creative because a poetry collection doesn’t have to follow the structure of a traditional novel. As far as poetry collections go I find Factory of Tears by Valzhyna Mort unique, most notably for the Belarusian dialect accompanying the poems.
It’s safe to say that Wonder Woman is one of the most recognisable superheroes in the world. As Princess of the Amazons, Diana is the perfect balance of strength and beauty. But how closely does she live up to the real life Amazons? This is one of many questions that are addressed in John Man’s Amazons: The Real Warrior Women of the Ancient World. The book takes the reader through the entire history of the women who became known as the Amazons, and the answers might surprise you.
Over the last decade, superheroes have shot into the mainstream, creating two cinematic universes. You might think the formula for a superhuman tale has become worn out with all the origin stories. But there’s still plenty of room for innovation, as writer Stephan Morse has shown with his novel, The Fiasco In News. The book tells the story of 21-year-old Adam Millard, whose superpower involves causing all sorts of mayhem to happen. Morse sent me an advanced copy of his self-published eBook in exchange for an honest review and here are my thoughts.