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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Summer Reading - Expat Novels

The upside to jet-lag (and I have it in spades) is that I get a lot of reading done. What else to do when one is sleepless in Osaka and it's 2 AM?

 Here are a few fiction titles I picked up in the last few months that were written by expats about expatriates.  If you happen to be sitting on the beach (lucky you) or preparing for your vacation (and the Japanese and French do much better in this regard than the poor American) perhaps there is something here you can upload to your Kindle or pack in your bags for when you need a rest from all the fun you'll be having.

Passion Fruit by Sandra Cuza.  A fun book that I enjoyed immensely.  An American couple heads for São Paulo, Brazil when the husband is expatriated there by his company.  It's a good life insofar as the package includes a good salary, nice house, servants and, of course, the pool.  Husband is thrilled to death because he gets to be a Big Shot in Brazil complete with cozy job and beautiful secretary/translator.  The wife, who had a fine job of her own back in the US, struggles to make a life for herself  in the new country.  Her suspicions about her husband and his secretary turn out to be true (and as a reader, it was kind of obvious to me early on that this was the case) and so they divorce and she goes back home which is not quite the end of the story.  She's fine and gets her HEA (happily ever after).   Her ex-husband?  Not so much...  A rollicking good read.

The World of Suzie Wong by Richard Mason.  This is a book (was later made into a movie) that was written in the late 1950's about a British expat artist in Hong Kong and his love affair with a Chinese prostitute.  I read the title and was going to pass on it, but I changed my mind and gave it a go.  Nicely written, good characters, fine dialogue.  I can see why it was a bestseller back before I was born.

Une Saison Japonaise by Nathalie Desormeaux.  This is a self-published novel by a Frenchwoman who was an expat herself in Asia.  It's set in the late 1970's (still in Japan boom period) and it's about a Frenchwoman who moves to Japan after her companion (the man she lives with) gets transferred there for work.  She's not thrilled about the move but l'homme de sa vie tells her that their relationship is over if she doesn't tag along.  She makes the best of a bad business - her French company asks her to audit the Japanese subsidiary in Tokyo so she has work, and she does speak some Japanese having studied it at university in France.  I enjoyed the book except for one thing:  here she is in Japan having been threatened by the love of her life (who pretty much takes himself out of the picture early own, leaving her to her own devices in a strange land)  and her inner monologue is filled with insecurity, fears of losing her man, and anger at accommodating him and his life plan at the expense of her own.  All of which makes her commentary about how unliberated the Japanese women she meets are, a bit hard to swallow.  She does get it together eventually (pulls up her Big Girl panties and deals) and finds that she just might like to stay in Japan after all.

That's it for now.  If any of you have expat novels to recommend (perhaps one you've written), please feel free to add them to this post in the comments section.  And maybe I'll start another reading lists with expat fiction titles.

Typhoon Nangka is on its way here.  Landfall in Japan is expected sometime on Thursday evening.  Looks like a big one.  Last typhoon I experienced was in Tokyo about 10 years ago and that was really something. For this one I'll have a great view from the 14th floor of my apartment building.  Or maybe I'll just sequester myself in the bathroom if it gets too scary.


Ellen Lebelle said...

Okay, on to my reading list. But, I'm knitting these days and while I can knit and glance at the TV, I can't knit and read. Take your Kindle into the bathroom with you during the storm. Do they use the same categories for typhoons as they do for Atlantic hurricanes?

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Have you tried audio books? I'm tempted by them. Might be fun. Different. :-)

I checked yesterday because I kept hearing Cat II and Cat III and had no clue what that meant.

And Wikipedia has a very nice explanation. Japan (Japan Meteorological Society) does have its own measuring system

Looks like Nangka is Very Strong :-)

Inaka Nezumi said...

Good luck with Typhoon 11. Saw on the news last night that they were taking down some statues in Wakayama so they would not get blown down.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Nezumi-san - and it's 8 PM and the wind is picking up. We can't stand on the NE side of our balcony because it's blowing so hard. I've removed everything from the balcony just in case. Winds are expected to pick up even more around 10 PM. I'm thinking it would be fun to stay up and get the full experience. :-)

Inaka Nezumi said...

Fun until someone loses an eye!

Leslie in Oregon said...

With the jet lag you describe and the noise of the typhoon, you probably have been up all night. I hope it was a safe and interesting night for you!