With only two months left in the year, I am significantly behind on my reading challenge for 2017. Over the past few months, I have been introduced to new authors that I have fallen in love with, which has resulted in the temporary abandonment of my ever-growing TBR. In an attempt to catch up and meet my reading goals for the year, my reading list for November is full of short stories and novellas by a few contemporary Japanese authors. Despite the relatively small page count when compared to past months, each book on this list promises to be entertaining as they all feature a unique twist.
Sweet Bean Paste, Durian Sukegawa
Synopsis: Sentaro has failed: he has a criminal record, drinks too much, and hasn’t managed to fulfill his dream of becoming a writer. Instead, he works in a confectionery shop selling dorayaki, a type of pancake filled with a sweet paste made of red beans. With only the blossoming of the cherry trees to mark the passing of time, he spends his days listlessly filling the pastries. Until one day an elderly, handicapped woman enters the shop. Tokue makes the best bean paste imaginable, and begins to teach Sentaro her art. But as their friendship flourishes, societal prejudices become impossible to escape, in this quietly devastating novel about the burden of the past and the redemptive power of friendship.
Thoughts: In an effort to branch out and read more Japanese authors, I requested a DRC of Sweet Bean Paste a few months ago. Although the story sounds absolutely heart-breaking, Sweet Bean Paste promises to touch on aspects of Japanese culture that are often overlooked, such as class, age, and prejudices. As I am constantly on the lookout for new Japanese reads that feature elements of culture, Sweet Bean Paste is on the top of my reading list for the month.