Book review: Inhabitation

Inhabitation

Inhabitation,
by Teru Miyamoto
Translated by Roger K. Thomas
Counterpoint Press
7/9/2019
春の夢 first published in 1984
320 pages
Japanese Literature

Goodreads

Buy the book

World literature is getting more and more one of my favorite genres, especially coming from Japan. I enjoy participating every year in the Japanese Literature Challenge, and I managed to read 8 books in  the 13th edition of the challenge. Alas, there were many more I had planned to tackle. So I’m glad I finally got to read Inhabitation, by Teru Miyamoto, considered to be among Japan’s most widely read living authors. The movie Shoplifters is based on one of his novels. Kore-eda,  the director of Shoplifters, also made the movie Maborosi, based on a book by Teru Miyamoto. Click to continue reading

Sunday Post #31 – 6/7/2020

Sunday Post

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by
Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It’s a chance to share news.
A post to recap the past week on your blog,
showcase books and things we have received.
Share news about what is coming up
on your blog
for the week ahead.
See rules here: Sunday Post Meme

*** 

This post also counts for

Sunday Salon    Stacking the Shelves  Mailbox Monday2

 It's Monday! What Are You Reading2  IMWAYR  WWW Wednesdays 2

#SundayPost #SundaySalon
#StackingTheShelves #MailboxMonday
#itsmonday #IMWAYR
#WWWWednesday #WWWWednesdays

Click on the logos to join the memes,
and on the book covers to access synopsis or review

Hmm, it’s been a while since my last Sunday Post, things are so busy. Many people keep talking about how much more time they have thanks to the quarantine, but I have experienced just the opposite. So the first things to go is blogging time.

But I have been doing a lot of reading recently, including catching up with review requests from 2019!

JUST READ THIS WEEK

  Un crime en Hollande   Berezina

Inhabitation

📚 Un crime en Hollande, by Georges Simenon
Published in 1931. Counts for The Classics Club
This is book 8 in the Maigret series, that I have been reading along with one of my French students.
His books are getting more and more atmospheric. This one, as most so far, takes place near the water (sea and canals).
Maigret is called to investigate the death of Professor Popinga in Holland, as he died the day after a visiting French professor gave a conference there. The French teacher is the culprit. So what happened to Popinga, and why?
There were great details about the ambiance in the port town of Delfzijl, way up north, with the local lazy workers, spending most of their time gossiping around the harbor and spitting away, and different other groups in the city, their obvious or hidden relationships,  their behaviors influenced by their religious stance, and the façade they keep towards each other. An asphyxiating milieu for younger people… The pettiness of it made me think about Jacques Brel’s song Les bourgeois…
Simenon’s details makes you feel and smell the places he talks about. There are also real time pieces, like people listening to these very old radio transistors. As for local details, I learned about the common juniper drink in Holland, basically the origin of our current gin.
It seems Maigret understands quite quickly what’s going on, but it takes him time to be able to unveil concrete proofs of it. In this one, I actually felt that the dénouement scene was dragging on a bit too long. And maybe it’s because I had actually identified the culprit and even the motive (for once!) behind what was done!

📚 Berezina, by Sylvain Tesson
Published in 2015. Audiobook
Tesson and a few friends decided to drive on sidecars from Moscow to Paris, to retrace Napoleon’s route after his debacle.
As usual in all the Tesson’s books I have read or listened to, the narrative is absolutely stunning, here full of details about the environment and the Russian culture that Sylvain appreciates so much.
It is obviously also packed with historical details, thanks to books and memoirs the team reads by night. The descriptions of this episode I read in French textbooks a few decades ago are miles away from the horrific reality. Some passages here sounded worthy of a horror novel, alas that was reality, as described in journals of soldiers who experienced the whole thing.
I like how Tesson tries to capture Napoleon’s character, and how Russians and French see him.
If you love reading books about Napoleon, you absolutely need to read this one – it is available in English, with the same title.
If you understand French, I obviously recommend it in the original, or even in its audio form: Franck Demesdt is an excellent narrator that made me feel I was part of this unusual expedition.

📚 Inhabitation, by Teru Miyamoto
Published in 2019. Review upcoming.
A new to me author, and I definitely want to read more by him, even if I found it a bit dragging after a while.

CURRENTLY READING/LISTENING TO

  Or What You Will And the Earth Will Sit on the Moon

Migrations

📚 Or What You Will, by Jo Walton
Expected publication: July 7th 2020 by Tor Books
Received for review

Just starting. I’m curious about this novel about books, and wondering how it’s a fantasy, a genre a bit outside my comfort zone, with a few exceptions.

He has been too many things to count. He has been a dragon with a boy on his back. He has been a scholar, a warrior, a lover, and a thief. He has been dream and dreamer. He has been a god.
But “he” is in fact nothing more than a spark of idea, a character in the mind of Sylvia Harrison, 73, award-winning author of thirty novels over forty years. He has played a part in most of those novels, and in the recesses of her mind, Sylvia has conversed with him for years.
But Sylvia won’t live forever, any more than any human does. And he’s trapped inside her cave of bone, her hollow of skull. When she dies, so will he.
Now Sylvia is starting a new novel, a fantasy for adult readers, set in Thalia, the Florence-resembling imaginary city that was the setting for a successful YA trilogy she published decades before. Of course he’s got a part in it. But he also has a notion. He thinks he knows how he and Sylvia can step off the wheel of mortality altogether. All he has to do is convince her.”

📚 And the Earth Will Sit on the Moon: Essential Storiesby Nikolai Gogol
Published December 5th 2019 by Pushkin Press.
Received for review through Edelweiss.

I usually don’t like too much the short story genre, but I’m curious to read more from this Russian master. I read Dead Souls years ago, but can’t remember anything about it.
This new collection contains five of the most famous ones.
I like how the editor connects their themes to the author’s life.

📚 And in audiobook, Migrations, by  Charlotte McConaghy
Expected publication: August 4th 2020 by Flatiron Books.
Receive through Libro.fm

Loving it!

Franny Stone has always been a wanderer. By following the ocean’s tides and the birds that soar above, she can forget the losses that have haunted her life. But when the wild she so loves begins to disappear, Franny can no longer wander without a destination. She arrives in remote Greenland with one purpose: to find the world’s last flock of Arctic terns and follow them on their final migration. She convinces Ennis Malone, captain of the Saghani, to take her onboard, winning over his salty, eccentric crew with promises that the birds she is tracking will lead them to fish.
As the Saghani fights its way south, Franny’s new shipmates begin to realize that the beguiling scientist in their midst is not who she seems. Battered by night terrors, accumulating a pile of letters to her husband, and dead set on following the terns at any cost, Franny is full of dark secrets. When the story of her past begins to unspool, Ennis and his crew must ask themselves what Franny is really running toward—and running from.
Propelled by a narrator as fierce and fragile as the terns she is following, Migrations is a shatteringly beautiful ode to the wild places and creatures now threatened. But at its heart, it is about the lengths we will go, to the very edges of the world, for the people we love.

BOOK UP NEXT

A Wild Sheep Chase

📚 A Wild Sheep Chase, by Haruki Murakami
Published in 1982.

This is the next book the Online Murakami Bookclub (on Discord) will be talking about, so I’ll start reading the first chapters around June 14.

His life was like a recurring nightmare: a train to nowhere. But an ordinary life has a way of taking an extraordinary turn. Add a girl whose ears are so exquisite that, when uncovered, they improve sex a thousand-fold, a runaway friend, a right-wing politico, an ovine-obsessed professor and a manic-depressive in a sheep outfit, implicate them in a hunt for a sheep, that may or may not be running the world, and the upshot is another singular masterpiece from Japan’s finest novelist.”

LAST 2 BOOKS ADDED TO MY GOODREADS TBR

  White Rage Marie Antoinette's World

📚 White Rage, by Carol Anderson
Published in 2016

I was looking for a serious, scholarly book on the issue, and looks like this one is excellent:

“From the Civil War to our combustible present, acclaimed historian Carol Anderson reframes our continuing conversation about race, chronicling the powerful forces opposed to black progress in America.
As Ferguson, Missouri, erupted in August 2014, and media commentators across the ideological spectrum referred to the angry response of African Americans as “black rage,” historian Carol Anderson wrote a remarkable op-ed in the Washington Post showing that this was, instead, “white rage at work. With so much attention on the flames,” she writes, “everyone had ignored the kindling.”
Since 1865 and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, every time African Americans have made advances towards full participation in our democracy, white reaction has fueled a deliberate and relentless rollback of their gains. The end of the Civil War and Reconstruction was greeted with the Black Codes and Jim Crow; the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision was met with the shutting down of public schools throughout the South while taxpayer dollars financed segregated white private schools; the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 triggered a coded but powerful response, the so-called Southern Strategy and the War on Drugs that disenfranchised millions of African Americans while propelling presidents Nixon and Reagan into the White House.
Carefully linking these and other historical flashpoints when social progress for African Americans was countered by deliberate and cleverly crafted opposition, Anderson pulls back the veil that has long covered actions made in the name of protecting democracy, fiscal responsibility, or protection against fraud, rendering visible the long lineage of white rage. Compelling and dramatic in the unimpeachable history it relates, White Rage will add an important new dimension to the national conversation about race in America..

📚 Marie Antoinette’s World: Intrigue, Infidelity, And Adultery In Versailles, by Will Bashor
Release date: June 15, 2020
at Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

I have already read two excellent books by the author on Marie Antoinette. He’s really excellent.

Now the good news is I’m organizing a virtual book tour for it, and I still have a few free copies for you! Click on the cover to reserve your spot!
The author writes really well, not dry at all!

“This riveting book explores the little-known intimate life of Marie Antoinette and her milieu in a world filled with intrigue, infidelity, adultery, and sexually transmitted diseases.
Will Bashor reveals the intrigue and debauchery of the Bourbon kings from Louis XIII to Louis XV, which were closely intertwined with the expansion of Versailles from a simple hunting lodge to a luxurious and intricately ordered palace. It soon became a retreat for scandalous conspiracies and rendezvous—all hidden from the public eye.
When Marie Antoinette arrived, she was quickly drawn into a true viper’s nest, encouraged by her imprudent entourage. Bashor shows that her often thoughtless, fantasy-driven, and notorious antics were inevitable given her family history and the alluring influences that surrounded her. Marie Antoinette’s frivolous and flamboyant lifestyle prompted a torrent of scathing pamphlets, and Bashor scrutinizes the queen’s world to discover what was false, what was possible, and what, although shocking, was most probably true.
Readers will be fascinated by this glimpse behind the decorative screens to learn the secret language of the queen’s fan and explore the dark passageways and staircases of endless intrigue at Versailles.”

BOOK RECEIVED THIS PAST WEEK

Strength Training Over 40

📚 Strength Training Over 40: A 6-Week Program to Build Muscle and Agility, by Alana Collins
Expected publication: June 16, by Rockridge Press
Ebook
received for review through Callisto Publisher’s Club

“Start the next stage of your life strong with a comprehensive 6-week strength training program that guides you through building and maintaining total-body strength, so you can keep doing the things you love to do for years to come. You’ll find illustrated exercises and stretches, complete with step-by-step instructions and weekly home and gym workout routines that put all the moves together.

BOOK JOURNAL

6/1
📚 I listened for about 30 minutes to Berezina. I really enjoy Sylvain Tesson art of description. As often, there’s a lot of vodka flowing, but I guess you can forgive him when his books are so fascinating! This is a real page of history, as Tesson and a few friends are driving on sidecar from Moscow to Paris, to retrace Napoleon’s route after his debacle. Amazing details!
📚 Reading Inhabitation. I wonder how this is going to evolve between the two main characters, not to mention the lizard! A new Japanese author to me, I’ll definitely will want to read more.

6/2
📚 Almost done with Un crime en Hollande, #8 by Georges Simenon, that I read along with one of my French students
The series is getting so atmospheric! I think I have identified the killer, but at 91%, we still don’t know for sure. Maigret makes the dénouement scene drag on and on, delightful and painful at the same time!

6/3
📚 Today I finished Un crime en Hollande and my audiobook Berezina. See the review to both at the beginning of this post.
📚 So I began Migrations. I had to double check if it was really a novel! It sounds so real and on the hot theme of what we have been doing to our planet.
📚 Inhabitation is a bit less fun now. There’s so much packed in this book, and the long discussion on Lamentations of Divergences, a late 13th century short Buddhist text, got boring.

6/4
📚 I’m really going to love Migrations, with Franny’s wild project, to follow the migration path of possibly the last arctic terns.

6/5
📚 I finished Inhabitation. The ending is perfect! I need to try another book by this author. Any suggestion?
📚 Migrations is getting more complex. I love all the back and forth between Franny’s current project and her past. It’s getting more and more mysterious.

6/6
📚 I did tons of gardening today, major weeding, and separating and replanting about 60 leeks, so I got to listen a lot to Migrations and I am half done already.
Now we have different periods of Franny’s past, and more and more dark elements surfacing. I have read the ending is heart wrenching, so I’m starting to prepare. The writing is excellent and the narrator has it perfect!
I wonder f we even know what year that trip is actually taking place.

THIS PAST WEEK ON
WORDS AND PEACE
MYRTLE SKETE
and FRANCE BOOK TOURS

📚 Book of the month giveaway: your choice between two books

COMING UP ON
WORDS AND PEACE
MYRTLE SKETE
FRANCE BOOK TOURS

  • Reviews of books received from Callisto Publisher’s Club
  • A few late reviews
  • More Orthodox book notes

As I’m catching up on things, I didn’t participate in the Classics Spin. BUT I’ll be talking about 20 Books of Summer 2020

HOW WAS YOUR WEEK?

 

The top 8 books to read in June 2020

Here are

The top 8 books
I plan to read in June 2020

Click on the covers to know more

CURRENTLY READING

A Wild Sheep Chase Inhabitation

  Un crime en Hollande Psalm 118

📚 A Wild Sheep Chase (1982), by Haruki Murakami
Reading with the Murakami online book club
This is the third book in the Rat series, and even though it’s very famous, I haven’t read it yet. So I’m really glad to have now the opportunity with the Murakami online book club. I get a lot of insights through the input of the participants.
“His life was like a recurring nightmare: a train to nowhere. But an ordinary life has a way of taking an extraordinary turn. Add a girl whose ears are so exquisite that, when uncovered, they improve sex a thousand-fold, a runaway friend, a right-wing politico, an ovine-obsessed professor and a manic-depressive in a sheep outfit, implicate them in a hunt for a sheep, that may or may not be running the world, and the upshot is another singular masterpiece from Japan’s finest novelist.”

📚 Inhabitation, by Teru Miyamoto
Written in 1984, published in English in 2019 by Counterpoint Press
Received for review through Edelweiss Plus
I received this book last year, and finally taking time to read it now. It sounds a bit like a Japanese Metamorphosis (Kafka), though with many more levels. It starts almost normal and becomes weird, I’m really loving it!
“A living lizard nailed to a pillar and a young man bound by a family misfortune––a tale that poses questions about life, death, and karma by one of Japan’s most beloved living writers.
In 1970s Osaka, college student Tetsuyuki moves into a shabby apartment to evade his late father’s creditors. But the apartment’s electricity hasn’t been reconnected yet, and Tetsuyuki spends his first night in darkness. Wanting to hang up a tennis cap from his girlfriend, Yōko, he fumbles about in the dark and drives a nail into a pillar. The next day he discovers that he has pierced the body of a lizard, which is still alive. He decides to keep it alive, giving it food and water and naming it Kin.
Inhabitation unfolds from there, following the complications in Tetsuyuki’s relationship with Yōko, a friendship with his supervisor who hides his heart disease at work, and his father’s creditors, always close on his heels. Daunted, Tetsuyuki speaks to Kin night after night, and Kin’s peculiarly tortured situation reflects the mingled pain, love, and guilt that infuses Tetsuyuki’s human relationships.
For more than four decades, Teru Miyamoto’s gentle prose—which often explores a kind of spiritual isolation—has enthralled Japanese readers. Now, translator Roger K. Thomas brings one of Miyamoto’s most well-loved novels to an English-speaking audience for the first time.”

📚 Un Crime en Hollande (1931)
Readalong with one of my French students. Works for The Classics Club
We are back to reading Georges Simenon. This is the 8th book in the Maigret series.
“When a French professor visiting the quiet, Dutch coastal town of Delfzjil is accused of murder, Maigret is sent to investigate. The community seem happy to blame an unknown outsider, but there are people much closer to home who seem to know much more than they’re letting on: Beetje, the dissatisfied daughter of a local farmer, Any van Elst, sister-in-law of the deceased, and, of course, a notorious local crook.
Written in the dark, grimly comic prose that Simenon is renowned for, A Crime In Holland will delight lifelong fans and new readers alike.”

📚 Psalm 118: A Commentary by Theophan the Recluse (1815-1894)
Psalm 118 is my favorite of all psalms, with its fascinating structure. This commentary is so rich! Theophan highlights how the verses follow each other in a logical way, as far as the spiritual life is concerned. He also makes references to both the Hebrew and the Greek texts, and to many Fathers of the Church. Loving it!.

READING NEXT

  Or What You Will And the Earth Will Sit on the Moon  

📚 Or What You Will, by Jo Walton
To be published on July 7th 2020 by Tor Books
Received for review
He has been too many things to count. He has been a dragon with a boy on his back. He has been a scholar, a warrior, a lover, and a thief. He has been dream and dreamer. He has been a god.
But “he” is in fact nothing more than a spark of idea, a character in the mind of Sylvia Harrison, 73, award-winning author of thirty novels over forty years. He has played a part in most of those novels, and in the recesses of her mind, Sylvia has conversed with him for years.
But Sylvia won’t live forever, any more than any human does. And he’s trapped inside her cave of bone, her hollow of skull. When she dies, so will he.
Now Sylvia is starting a new novel, a fantasy for adult readers, set in Thalia, the Florence-resembling imaginary city that was the setting for a successful YA trilogy she published decades before. Of course he’s got a part in it. But he also has a notion. He thinks he knows how he and Sylvia can step off the wheel of mortality altogether. All he has to do is convince her.

📚 And the Earth Will Sit on the Moon: Essential Stories, by Nikolai Gogol
December 5th 2019 by Pushkin Press
Received for review, will read for The Classics Club.
I usually don’t read short stories, but this is a Russian classic I want to be more familiar with.
“Admired by writers from Nabokov to Bulgakov to George Saunders, Gogol is considered one of the more enigmatic of the Russian greats. He only wrote one novel, Dead Souls, and destroyed much of his later work, so his stories constitute his major output.
In this collection, beautifully and skilfully translated by Oliver Ready, Gogol’s three greatest St Petersburg stories – ‘The Nose’, ‘The Overcoat’ and ‘The Diary of a Madman’ – are presented alongside three masterworks set in the Ukrainian and Russian provinces, demonstrating the breadth of Gogol’s work.
Gogol’s extraordinary work is characterised by his idiosyncratic, and often very funny sensibility, and these stories offer us his unique, original and marvellously skewed perspective on the world.”

CURRENT AND NEXT AUDIOBOOKS

Berezina   Migrations

📚 Berezina, by Sylvain Tesson (2015) – available in English
French audiobook
As far as audiobooks are concerned, I tend to binge on some authors. Last year, I binged on Michel Bussi. Right now, I’m in a Sylvain Tesson period. After listening to La Panthère des neiges, I’m listening to Berezina: on sidecars, Sylvain and a few friends decided to drive from Moscow to Paris, following Napoleon’s route in his debacle. Fascinating narrative, full of details about the environment and Russian culture that Sylvain appreciates so much, and full also of many historical details, thanks to books and memoirs the team reads by night. The descriptions I got in French textbooks a few decades ago are miles away from the horrific reality.
Take four friends, put them on two Ural motorcycles (complete with sidecars), send them off on a 2,500-mile odyssey retracing history’s most famous retreat, add what some might consider an excessive amount of Vodka, and you’ve got Sylvain Tesson’s Berezina, a riotous and erudite book that combines travel, history, comradery, and adventure.
The retreat of Napoleon’s Grande Armée from Russia culminated, after a humiliating loss, with the crossing of the River Berezina, a word that henceforth became synonymous with unmitigated disaster for the French and national pride for the Russians. Two hundred years after this battle, Sylvain Tesson and his friends retrace Napoleon’s retreat, along the way reflecting on the lessons of history, the meaning of defeat, and the realities of contemporary Europe. A great read for history buffs and for anyone who has ever dreamed of an adventure that is out of the ordinary.

📚 Migrations, by Charlotte McConaghy (To be published on August 4th 2020, by Flatiron Books)
Will be listening thanks to Libro.fm (check for ways to get free audiobooks and support independent bookstores – excellent app!)
I listened to Book Expo America, thanks to their Zoom sessions (I would not have been able to participate if it had been the usual BEA in New York), still available on their Facebook page.
One of the books highlighted was Migrations, and it sounded really good. so I was delighted that it was a title available on Libro.fm!
‘Franny Stone has always been a wanderer. By following the ocean’s tides and the birds that soar above, she can forget the losses that have haunted her life. But when the wild she so loves begins to disappear, Franny can no longer wander without a destination. She arrives in remote Greenland with one purpose: to find the world’s last flock of Arctic terns and follow them on their final migration. She convinces Ennis Malone, captain of the Saghani, to take her onboard, winning over his salty, eccentric crew with promises that the birds she is tracking will lead them to fish.
As the Saghani fights its way south, Franny’s new shipmates begin to realize that the beguiling scientist in their midst is not who she seems. Battered by night terrors, accumulating a pile of letters to her husband, and dead set on following the terns at any cost, Franny is full of dark secrets. When the story of her past begins to unspool, Ennis and his crew must ask themselves what Franny is really running toward—and running from.
Propelled by a narrator as fierce and fragile as the terns she is following, Migrations is a shatteringly beautiful ode to the wild places and creatures now threatened. But at its heart, it is about the lengths we will go, to the very edges of the world, for the people we love.”

CURRENT GIVEAWAYS

Listed on the homepage – will be updated later on today

List of books I can swap with yours

PLANS FOR JUNE

📚 20 Books of Summer 2020

📚 Review several books received through The Callisto Publisher’s Club. I still have several  books behind

📚 I have a few reviews to catch up with, and mostly, I’d like to post more notes from the last theological book I read, and from the one I am currently reading.

📚 Restart my daily reading  journal

📚 Update my Links page!

Eiffel Tower Orange

HAVE YOU READ
OR ARE YOU PLANNING TO READ
ANY OF THESE?
WHAT ARE YOUR READING PLANS FOR JUNE?

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