Press Release 2/8/19

(Kent, Connecticut) – The focus of this spring’s book discussion is Nationality and War: four novels in which Asian women write about disturbing and violent national histories. The stories are set before, during, and after WWII. Most of us are probably unfamiliar with the complicated history they recount, but their novels allow readers to grasp the horrors and hopes of several nations, particularly as experienced by women.

Miss Burma is a story that takes place in the territory now called Myanmar, which is much in the news, but the novel presents a history we don’t hear about, starting in 1926. White Chrysanthemums is set in Korea, but involves its complicated relationship with Japan. In Pachinko, the author updates the difficult relationship between these two nations. Ratner’s novel tells a grim story, but the poetic beauty of her writing keeps a reader going, plus the knowledge that the author survived.

One take-away from these four works is that old animosities never die, but live on to cause generations of suffering. Sound familiar?

For those who want to explore novels that deal with neighboring areas during the same time period, Gail Tsukiyama has two works focused on China: A Hundred Flowers, about the Chinese Revolution, and The Language of Threads, set in Hong Kong before, during, and after WWII. Lynne Kutsukake’s The Translation of Love is set in Japan during and immediately after WWII.

This spring the book discussion series at Kent Memorial Library, Nationality and War, will begin in March. Here is the 2019 program schedule:

Thursday, March 21 Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig

Thursday, April 18 White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht

Thursday, May 16 Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Thursday, June 13 In The Shadow of the Banyon Tree by Vaddey Ratner

The Kent Memorial Library Book Discussion Group meets once a month on Thursdays from 5:00 to 6:15 p.m. in the Reading Room. The meetings are free and open to the public. The Library makes every effort to supply books, but requests that people sign up for the meetings so that they know how many copies to order. Please call the Library to register at 860.927.3761.

Discussion is conducted by Betty Krasne, PhD, writer, professor emerita, and long time Kent resident. Betty Krasne, Ph.D., a writer and retired professor of literature who lives in Kent, leads the discussions.