Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Isabel Allende: 'El amante japonés: Una novela' / 'The Japanese Lover: A Novel' (2015)

Isabel Allende: El amante japonés: Una novela / The Japanese Lover: A Novel (2015). A quick, easy read. It's strange to see allusions to very recent events in a novel, connected with the upheavals of the 1930s and 1940s. 

I particularly enjoyed the various points of view, ranging from the much older Alma to one of her caregivers and mentees, Irina. Both have immigrant backgrounds -- Alma, a refugee sent to California by concerned family during the encroachment of the Nazi menace, Irina rescued from the poverty of Moldova (though out of the frying pan into the fire). There's a Japanese family whose patriarch had moved to California to become a gardener well before the Second World War, breaking the family tradition of militarism, and numerous other characters. Ichimei Fukuda, son of the gardener and a gardener himself, is "the Japanese lover" -- Alma's.
The Japanese angle adds historical flourishes. There's a religious component with Ōmoto, a modern offshoot of Shinto that publishes tracts in the international language Esperanto. There's the holistic aspect of landscape gardening; internment during World War II preceded by the burial of the family war sword; and note of the highly decorated Japanese American combat unit, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (whose history is worth a book of its own -- including those they fought in Europe, ranging from Germans to various detachments surprisingly fighting alongside them -- the Germans --  originating from Somalia, Poland, India and other unexpected places). 

A pretty cool, undemanding novel that deals with age and life changes, varied circumstances, refugees, immigrants, love and history, all laced together nicely.

Today's Rune: Wholeness. 

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

Hadn't heard of this before but it certainly sounds interesting.