Tomorrow I'm heading down to Salinas to do a workshop on editing at the East of Eden Conference. I'm sure I'll come back jazzed and with an armful of books. I've already cleared off my bedside table in anticipation. Of the books cast aside, I wanted to let you know of some great ones I've enjoyed this past month.
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto (translated from Japanese by Megan Backus.) This is the story of a young Japanese woman who loses her grandmother (her primary caretaker) and goes to live with a boy and his mother. It addresses the subject of loneliness and reads like poetry. The book was the winner of two of Japan's most prestigious literary awards and is currently in its 57th printing.
**Kitchen is also on the required reading list for the Asian Lit class at the SF Conservatory of Music along with yes, yes, yes, My Half of the Sky. Yeah!
Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez : In 2002, Deborah Rodriguez ventured off to Afghanistan with Care for All Foundation, an emergency and disaster relief organization. She knew nothing really about emergency and disaster relief--she is a hairdresser by trade. But she had a generous and brave spirit. When all the doctors and nurses had gone, she stayed behind to to build a beauty school and salon (something the Taliban had outlawed). She encountered the Taliban, women in arranged marriages, bombings, cultural divides--and all with great humor and grace. This was not only enlightening, but fun to read.The Night in Question by Tobias Wolff: I'm often at a loss when it comes to short stories. Like pure poetry, I know there's a message there...but perhaps I'm just not getting it. Not so with these stories.