Thursday, August 2, 2012

Images of Japan

In the ten days we roamed hither and yon in Japan visiting friends and relatives, we came away with several images:
**Nobody ate while walking, driving, sitting on the train, biking.  In fact, eating was a kind of ritual (done at certain times of the day.)  Nobody was fat.
**Public transportation made life accessible.  While there, we only sat in a car twice.  The rest of the time was walking, riding a bike, riding a train.  Even grannies rode their bikes.  The shinkansen was especially impressive, travelling at up to 190 m/hour, arriving halfway across the country in a few hours.
**People riding on the train didn’t talk on their cell phones—they switched to “manner mode."  If someone did accidentally get a call, it was amusing to watch.  It looked like some covert operation, as the person spoke with their hands up by their face blocking out the potentially annoying sound of their personal conversation. 
**Almost everywhere we went had directional signs in English, sometimes in Korean, Chinese.  
**Wifi was not everywhere.
**People ran around in yukatas and kimono--a nod to the old--as well as 3-piece suits and dresses.  But NOBODY wore saggers.

**And, although it seems silly to mention, the bathrooms were always a new experience.  The worst ones were the old-fashioned holes in the ground.  The best ones (like at the airport) had several buttons on the side, one button for bidet, one for shower, one for dryer.  At the same time, as soon as you sat down, a recording of rushing water would start up, masking any other sounds.  In these bathrooms, the sinks were also very high tech, with soap dispensing as soon as you put your hands beneath the dispenser, water flowing as soon as you put your hands under the spigot, and the hand dryer turning on as soon as you put your hands in this sideways waffle-iron type machine.  (Something I've only seen at the Tech Museum in San Jose.)

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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

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