Good Reads

I thoroughly enjoyed reading these books.

Alien Rice by Ichiro Kawasaki

This story is written from the perspective of British woman who marries a Japanese salaryman, and returns to Japan in the 1970s. At first you wonder how such a union between two people who seem to have so little in common survive the trials of married life. As the story progresses, you realise that both Alice and Saburo need each other. They are both adventurous and brave enough to try new things. Alice comes from a working class family, and while working for a Japanese firm she begins to realise her self-worth and the advantage of simply being a western woman in a Japanese firm. Saburo is not the typical Japanese man, and he wants to experience life in London to the fullest. So they fall in love and get married. At this point, you might expect me to say ‘and they live happily ever after’. Not so soon. Saburo is transfered back to Japan. A son is born to them. Alice’s ideas on parenting are different than Japanese mothers. Moreover, she wants a life of her own beyond her roles of wife and mother. For a while, she is successful in schieving that in Japan. But soon enough, they realise that Alice would never feel that she belonged there, and neither would their son. So, they embark upon another adventure.

36 Views of Mount Fuji by Cathy N. Davidson

This is an account of an American visiting professor who teaches English at a Japanese women’s college. She visited and lived in Japan four different times, and then wrote this book. It is very thoughtful book. When you live in a foreign country and you don’t speak the language fluently, you almost feel like you are there as an observer on a fact finding mission, and it takes some time to feel comfortable, and be a part of life rather than just looking in from the outside. This feeling of inadequacy is very appropriately described. Being an American woman, she finds that her students imitate her and also share their hopes and dreams with her. For her part, she notes that her stereotypes about Japanese society are contradicted. She gathers insight into the lives of women in she comes in touch with. On a refereshing note, she also learns of the rituals of ordinary life which have a calming effect on life in a fast moving island nation. Her admiration for this different outlook on life grows so much that she attempts to create it back in the States.

36 Japanese Women by Kumiko Fujimuraby Kumiko Fujimura-Fanselow and Atsuko Kameda

This is a collection of essays written about Japanese women by Japanese women. It deals mostly with current women’s issues — marriage, work, changing roles of men and women, role of education, a woman’s place in society and government, sexism and the portrayal of women in modern culture. These are serious topics, and applicable to women’s lives in all societies. This book is very educational, but easy to read and informative.

Copyright @ Shoma Nandi Ramaswamy. All rights reserved.

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