Thursday, September 4, 2008

It's Party Time!!!

I love writers' conferences--a gathering of like-minded people eager to share ideas and writing tips and contacts and good books. My favorite kind of party.

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.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on My Half of the Sky's selection on the required reading list for the Asian lit class. It's such a wonderful book. It should become a classic in its genre, like Amy Tan's Joy Luck Club.

I'll have to check out Tobias Wolff's short story collection. Have you read his memoirs, This Boy's Life and In Pharaoh's Army? They were excellent, too.

:) Lynn

mommycupcake said...

Hi Jana! Sara checking in... :)

"Kitchen" is one of my old favorites, i discovered Banana Yoshimoto back in the day when we were all in Japan. She is in great company with you at the SF Conservatory of Music. Yeah!

Kabul Beauty School sounds great. I'll have to put it on my must-read list.

Take care!

mommycupcake said...

P.S. "Kitchen" was also made into a movie.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0122133/

Jana McBurney-Lin said...

Thanks, Lynn. Thanks, Sara. Good to hear from you. I'm one of those people who don't want to look at the movie, especially if I loved the book. I already have the movie running in my head and those hollywood types always get the scenes and dialogue wrong.:)

What People Are Saying About My Half of the Sky

My Half of the Sky was the BookSense Pick for August 2006 as well as a Forbes Book Club Pick.

"McBurney-Lin tells a wonderfully entertaining story with the traditional coming-of-age theme (which is experienced universally)...weaving in the cultural challenges of growing up in China's rapidly changing social system."
Mary Warpeha, co-President of the Minnesota Chapter of US-China Friendship Association
March 2010


"The novel ...includes many of the tales and the folk ways of the people living in the rural areas of South China, still followed provincially. The story takes place in current China, but could relate the dilemma of any young woman in rural China through the ages."
Kitty Trescott, National Board of the Midwest Region of US-China Friendship Association. March 2010

"A lot is expected of a young Chinese girl. My Half of the Sky by Jana McBurney-Lin is the story of Li Hui, a young girl who has just achieved marriageable age. She seeks to make the most of herself, but the expectations all around her make it difficult, as her parents seek to use her as pawn to their advantage, she is faced with what she believes to be true love. She must balance career, romance, and family, all to somehow make everyone happy, a tough endeavor indeed. An engaging and entertaining read from beginning to end, "My Half of the Sky" is a poignant tale of the modern Chinese woman, and recommended for community library collections.
--Midwest Book Review November, 2008

“It is a rare women’s novel that sensitively describes the life of a young educated woman in modern-day China in its full complexity, without resorting to unnecessary sentimentalism. Jana’s deep knowledge of the realities of life in China and Singapore makes the reading extra rewarding. In fact, with every new page the novel gets harder to put down and you find yourself gobbling it up before you know it. Finally, the author has given a voice to the Li Hui in all of us, as we struggle for the golden middle between tradition and the modern momentum of our world.”
Isabella Sluzek
Friends of the Museum Book Review 2008
Singapore

You'll be rooting all the way for Li Hui as she struggles, ahead of the curve, to be her own woman in an emerging, modern China. Jana McBurney-Lin's My half of the Sky is a beautiful, witty, touching debut novel.
Thomas B. Sawyer
Head Writer TV Series "Murder, She Wrote,"
Author - The Sixteenth Man


A complex and mesmerizingly original tale of a young Chinese woman caught between the modern world and the pull of her ancient culture. McBurney-Lin’s intimate portrait of China sparks with insights and is peopled with characters so rich and alive, they seem to breathe on the page. Dazzling and unforgettable.
Caroline Leavitt,
Author - Girls in Trouble

McBurney-Lin's debut novel is a gift. Li Hui is a memorable heroine, a young woman torn between her heart and her culture.Her daunting journey is a trip into China's complicated soul, and a deeply moving exploration of love, honor, duty, and loss." Frank Baldwin, Author - Balling the Jack


My Half of the Sky is a wonderfully-crafted story that was obviously written with a piece of McBurney-Lin's heart. A masterpiece."
Lee Lofland, Author - Howdunit: Police Procedure and Investigation


My Half of the Sky heralds the arrival of a fantastic new storyteller. With artistry and precision, Jana McBurney-Lin's clear-eyed prose takes the reader on a new journey into a past world that speaks to a modern sensibility, a modern world, a modern woman. This is a book to be treasured.
Emily Rapp, Author - The Poster Child


Through vivid descriptions of sights and smells, Jana McBurney-Lin's My Half of the Sky is a haunting, emotional journey of what it means to be an honorable female in modern China. Jill Ferguson, Author - Sometimes Art Can't Save You