Saturday, February 4, 2012
World and Town by Gish Jen
Janet Song narrated the audiobook (Blackstone: 16 hours) at a sedate pace and pronounced the occasional Chinese words with tonal inflections. The e-audio MP3 file that I downloaded through my library's Overdrive database had a couple of glitches, unfortunately, including a repeated section 54 minutes long.
This was one of those books that held synchronicities with other things I was reading at about the same time.
1. Hattie is pestered by superstitious relatives who believe that her parents' burial spot is the cause of the bad luck that has befallen their families. Under Heaven opens with a man gaining luck through his pious work in burying the dead. Interment location is also part of the plot in Beauty Plus Pity.
2. The first chapter in World and Town is titled "I'll But Lie and Bleed Awhile." In Taking My Life, Jane Rule recounts fainting while reciting this same passage in class.
3. Kevin Chong's disaffected protagonist (Malcolm) in Beauty Plus Pity and Paul Yee's Ray in Money Boy, both had similarities to the oldest son in Gish Jen's Cambodian family, all of them struggling to find their place in society.
4. The bureaucratic hassles and personal misfortunes in China that Hattie hears about from her relatives echo the troubles faced by protagonists in The Blue Dragon.
Do many of you read different books simultaneously?