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“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? …we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.”

— Franz Kafka

Reviews on Asian Literature

Black Box by Shiori Ito

Black Box by Shiori Itō

In her memoir Black Box, Shiori Itō tells the distressing event of sexual assault she encountered and her struggles to seek for help in flawed Japanese legal and investigative systems. Her case soon became the prominent #metoo movement in Japan.

First Person Singular by Haruki Murakami

First Person Singular by Haruki Murakami

First Person Singular is an anthology of eight short stories by one of my all time favourite authors, Haruki Murakami. Translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel, all stories are told in first-person narrative rich with Murakami’s signature storytelling.

The Mountains Sing

The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai tells an entrancing multigenerational saga of the Trần family. The story expands nearly a hundred years and is narrated by two female characters, Grandma Diệu Lan and her granddaughter, Hương.

How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee

How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee

Set in Singapore, How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee is a deeply affecting story about a comfort woman during Japanese Occupation. This book is longlisted for the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction.