Thursday, June 23, 2016

Major new academic essay, in which Sad Peninsula features prominently

Let's call it the "snooping self on the Web" discovery of the year. I was checking out Sad Peninsula’s holdings on yesterday when I found that someone has published a major new piece of scholarship on comfort women novels, in which my book features prominently. Professor Jeongyun Ko of Dong-A University has written “‘Good’ Comfort Women Novel? Ethics and Representational Tactics of Korean Comfort Women Novels in English” for the academic journal Korean Association for Feminist Studies in English Literature. Professor Ko’s essay touches on the various themes and tropes found throughout the corpus of comfort women fiction, but she focuses her analysis on two recent novels to join the genre – mine and Kalliope Lee’s Sunday Girl (Psychopomp Press, 2013).

I know by now that one must take all literary “accomplishments” with a certain grain of salt, but I find myself especially chuffed by this delightful news. While academic journals don’t typically have a broad audience, I have to believe that a large scholarly essay such as this one is less ephemeral than your average work-a-day book review. This paper may well be read, discussed and cited by like-minded academics over the years, and hopefully lead some of them to Sad Peninsula. What’s more, many authors have to wait until they’re dead before they have any scholarship written about them, so I’m grateful that this work of mine has gotten some academic love less than two years out of the gate.

As well, Professor Ko has many flattering things to say about Sad Peninsula. In comparing its narrative approach to other comfort women fiction, she writes:

Sad Peninsula concedes two new important thematic focuses that have not been fully explored in other comfort women novels in English. First, the question of ethics and representation of comfort women is scrutinized within the text through the depiction of “foreigner” Michael’s fascination with Eun-young’s past as a comfort woman. Second, Eun-young’s narrative, which unfolds her life back in Korea, not just the enslavement experiences, presents a powerful voice of a Korean female heroine who is more than just a comfort woman trapped in a victim trope.

To read the essay in full, go to the journal issue’s landing page and then click on the “4.Ko.pdf” link (you may have to hunt for it – it’s tiny!) to download the file.

Monday, June 13, 2016

My Numero Cinq review of Benjamin Hale's The Fat Artist and Other Stories

Yes, yes, a book reviewer's work is never done. While I wasn't expecting to see this piece published until later this summer, it was great to see Numero Cinq post my review of Benjamin Hale's masterful new short story collection, The Fat Artist earlier today. Since submitting my review, I've been singing this book's praises to anyone who will listen - my wife, coworkers, strangers at the bank. I think what I appreciate most about it is how Hale is able to write in several different registers and adopt so many different perspectives in these stories. His is a massive talent and I am a proud convert. Go put this book on your summer reading list. You won't regret it.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Speaking of Quill and Quire ...

... my Q&Q review of Torp, by Michael Mirolla, is now online. Rereading the review, I now wonder if readers may think that I have direct experience of being in Vancouver during the FLQ crisis in 1970. I don't. I wasn't born until 1975. Which I guess just means Mirolla did a great job of creating a believable zeitgeist in his novel. Anyway, an interesting book with interesting things happening in it. Go check it out!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

My Quill and Quire review of Rich and Poor, by Jacob Wren ...

... is now online at Q&Q's website. You, like me, may find this novel by Jacob Wren somewhat apropos, what with the catastrophe that is Donald Trump's presidential run unfolding down south. Wren's narrative plants us firmly inside the dynamic between a callous billionaire and the impoverished, failed musician who wants to murder him. While my review points out that this book could have benefited from a bit more realism on the billionaire's side of the coin, overall Rich and Poor is very readable, occasionally funny, and generous in the sense that it provides some interesting food for thought. Anyway, read the full review here.