Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: Race
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-03-15 17:29
Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
Pachinko - Min Jin Lee

It took me almost four months to read Pachinko. As I read, I began wondering about my slow pace. My fall semesters are busier, yes, but I still manage to finish most books in what's a timely manner for me. It certainly wasn't because I found the book hard to read in terms of comprehension or engagement. As I got closer to the end, I realized: it was because I was so invested in the characters and storytelling I had to take time to process the intense feelings the novel evoked. There are also regular gaps in time that take place between chapters where characters' situations change significantly; I needed mental space before diving into the story again. I can't think of another novel that required this sort of reading from me.


In addition to Rushdie's The Moor's Last Sigh, Pachinko has served to establish that "family sagas" can engage me, or at least when another culture is involved. Through the family portrayed here, I learned more about Korea, but it never feels like a history lesson. Everything comes from the characters. The novel also provokes thought about national and racial identity.


There were moments I dreaded, as with the return of a less sympathetic character, though not in a way that made me dislike the novel or its author. There were moments that shocked me to the point of gasping. There are many scenes that easily and vividly come to mind when I recall my reading, which I finished more than a month ago.


I would love to teach this novel. I have the feeling I may reread it some day, regardless. For me, that's a rarity, a compliment, and a sign of deep gratitude. 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-03-08 23:53
So you want to talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo
So You Want to Talk About Race - Ijeoma Oluo

I debated whether to give this a full five stars, mostly since I rarely give books five stars, but I really don't have anything to criticize here (other than a minor disagreement about a single comma) and I did really enjoy my read. I wasn't always perfectly comfortable, admittedly, but I think it was direct and well-written while possessing a lively tone.


The content isn't exactly new but it's a good resource that walks you through a lot of the arguments and provides strategies for talking about race. I do feel that the more familiar people are with arguments and talking points, the easier it is to speak up when appropriate. Let's hope I can manage to do more of that.


I would like to share a particular passage from the chapter on microaggressions since it reminded me of an argument I had once about whether the younger generations are too sensitive about "politically correct" topics.

"I would like to say that his is when I stopped caring what other people think, that this was when I stopped trying to fit in. But I was a fifteen-year old girl, and I was lonely. So I kept trying. I kept trying to make friends and build community and every time I thought I'd made progress, someone would deflate all of the air out of my dream.


But as painful as it was, I didn't know that it was wrong. I didn't know that I wasn't supposed to be treated this way. I was pretty sure I was the problem. Because nobody came to my defense, hell, nobody batted an eye when these things were said to me. They weren't a big deal, just small comments, little jokes. I shouldn't be so sensitive. It was all in my head. If I just found a way to have less things wrong with me, these bothersome comments would stop. So I smiled less, at less, laughed less, and spoke in a whisper."

I really empathized with that heartbreaking passage. The little things over time hurt. They have psychological impact. Why would you want to write off that kind of hurt as over-sensitivity? You shouldn't! I can only assume that the people making this argument don't understand that it's the accumulation of all the little comments because they've never paid attention to them and so they've never noticed how many there are. We all need to do better.


This book is focused on racism in the US, so not everything is the same where I live, but we're not immune from racism here either. We always seem to like to think that these things are better in Canada, but a black coworker of mine once admitted that he shaved his braids off in his 20s because he felt it was holding him back from landing a job. That was a few years ago, but not all that many.


Previous updates:

163 of 238 pages

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-03-08 23:12
Red Game Round 3 Guess (Kill Your Darlings)
So You Want to Talk About Race - Ijeoma Oluo

I read So you want to talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo for this card since there's an I in Finch (Ijeoma). I'll write up a review later tonight but I wanted to get this guess in before it was too late. 


Let's see how evil MR is...

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-03-07 23:23
Reading progress update: I've read 163 out of 238 pages.
So You Want to Talk About Race - Ijeoma Oluo

I have to say that I'm a little appalled that Oluo felt the need to include a chapter entitled "Why can't I touch your hair?" Not because I don't believer her but because it just feels like something incredibly invasive to do to someone, especially if you don't actually know them. I mean, of course you don't randomly go touching people's hair without their permission. Isn't that a no brainer? Even asking is awkward unless you're actually having a conversation about hair.


Basically I'm just appalled that anyone would feel that this is an acceptable thing to do to anyone.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-03-06 15:17
The Buddha in the Attic - Tight & Smart, until it's not
The Buddha in the Attic - Julie Otsuka

This is one of those novels you know the critics will adore. It's written in a different way, there is no main character, it's almost a book of linked sentences (though all books are that. I have no idea how to describe the writing.) Everything is a statement. Every sentence is structured the same way *for most of the book.* And that's where I dropped a star.


The group of Japanese women who narrate in a third-person "god's eye" sort of way for most of the book are the main characters of this book. They are young and naive when the book opens, all on the lower decks of a ship bringing them to America - these "picture brides." Idealistic, if conflicted, they believe their lives will be better in the US, despite their fears and concerns about loud, giant, hairy, smelly Americans. They're on the way to live with the Japanese men who have built the American dream in San Francisco early in the 20th century. When they get here, those men aren't all they represented themselves to be.


The women go from young brides to farm laborers to house maids to mothers, and then the tone shifts and we no longer hear the story from the group of Japanese women. Instead a nameless white woman (or women?) takes up their tale. She explains that they've disappeared, and for a while they think about these Japanese workers who were just here, until they don't anymore.


When the women become mothers, the structure starts to change. Sentences get longer and there are no more statement followed by statement lists. By the time the white women start to tell the story, it's no longer that tight, rigid and entrancing structure. Instead it becomes more like regular prose. I didn't like that change. And with our main "character" gone, I felt like a door had been slammed.


Now, all of that could mean that the author did exactly what she meant to do. These people were lost when they were imprisoned during the war. They couldn't speak for themselves, and apparently nobody cared to speak for them, plus white women don't speak like Japanese women in this book, this place or this era. Perhaps the nameless white women taking up the story or lack thereof represented exactly what it was supposed to. I don't know. I just know that it felt abrupt (like the move into the camps itself) and cold (again, like the actual history.) Then it ended, which isn't like history.


I am incredibly impressed with this sad tale. I just wish it had stayed in that format or given me more to hang onto through what was, in many ways, the most crucial point in the book: the end. Why could we no longer hear from the Japanese women? I know they disappeared, but we heard their private thoughts before that. Anyway, it's interesting and very short. Worth a read, if only so you can tell me why I'm wrong.


More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?