...from the week of December 21-27, 2009. 1) An Appointment with My Brother - Yi Mun-YolAn Appointment with My Brother
opens with the main character learning of the death of his father, who abandoned the main character and his mother to defect to the North in the aftermath of the Korean War. Hoping for some sort of closure, the protagonist hires an ethnic-Korean Chinese facilitator to arrange a meeting with his half-brother, the events of which form the majority of the narrative. Although technically a work of fiction, An Appointment with My Brother
is really a crash course on the lingering effects of the Korean War--betrayal, abandonment, separation, propaganda, survival--and the people--Communist sympathisers, human traffickers, smugglers, refugees, divided families--affected by the conflict. Although the majority of the novella's characters are ciphers rather than individuals and the main character the vehicle by which they are introduced to the reader, Yi's narrative is remarkable for successfully working so many big issues into such a small amount of page space, and for doing it in such a way that the ciphers don't seem like mere ciphers, or the exposition like mere exposition. If you're interested in the Korean peninsula and can get your hands on this volume, I definitely recommend it.2) 助六由録春猫桜 -岡田 信子
Sukeroku Yukari no Nekozakura – Okada Nobuko
Okada Nobuo is a Japanese graphic artist well known for (among other things) her “Japanese-style Cats,” which are basically what they sound like. Sukeroku Yukari no Edozakura
is a famous kabuki play that not only broke ground within its genre, but whose protagonist became the archetype of Edo period masculinity. Sukeroku Yukari no Nekozakara
is a handmade, handbound, limited edition book in which Okada’s cats enact the kabuki play. The homemade paper is silky, the illustrations beautiful, and for some icing on the cake, the woven cotton cover features polka dots.
Two and a half weeks dan la maison
. Malaise has set in.
That will be all.