Her debut novel, Losing Kei, was released last year.
A few days ago I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I've always been interested in other cultures, which explains how I wound up living in Japan, and also my choice of reading materials. I often read novels in translation (most recently The Curse of Eve and other stories by a young Mexican writer, Liliana Blum), or books set in foreign countries. For example, last night I finished reading The Size of the World by Joan Silber, a cycle of stories that takes the reader from Vietnam in the 60s to Thailand in the 20s to the U.S. just after the attacks of 9/11. Although each story is told from a different point of view, all of these characters are connected, and the narratives combine into a satisfying whole. The stories were fascinating, and also instructive, because my novel-in-progress is told from various points of view and I'm trying to figure out how I can make it hang together.Visit Suzanne Kamata's website and blog.
Lark and Termite, by Jayne Anne Phillips, which I finished recently, is also told from multiple points of view, including those of a dying soldier during the war in Korea, and a disabled non-verbal boy. I think it was quite audacious of Phillips to try something like that, and I think she succeeded. This novel is of special interest to me because my daughter is disabled, and I was frustrated, at first, not to find many families with special needs children in modern adult literature. (There are actually quite a few novels now featuring autistic children, but not so many with other disabilities.)
Along these lines, I was excited to read T4 by Ann Clare LeZotte last week. The title refers to the Nazi's program to "euthanize" disabled individuals, and the novel-in-verse is told from the point of view of a deaf girl who is forced to hide out. The language is spare, but the story packs a powerful punch. Like my daughter, the author Ann Clare LeZotte is profoundly deaf, which makes this story even more of an accomplishment.
Last week I also read Mother in the Middle, by Sybil Lockhart, one of my colleagues at literarymama.com. Lockhart, a neurobiologist, writes of raising small children while caring for her mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s. She paints a vivid portrait of her family while illuminating the changes in her children's and mother's brains.
As for non-fiction, I've been reading The Samurai Way of Baseball by Robert Whiting as part of my research for my novel-in-progress (working title: The Baseball Widow). I didn't realize, until reading this book, how many minority players there have been in Japanese professional baseball. If you want to know anything about the J-league, Whiting is the guy to go to; this is his third book on the subject.
Finally, at bedtime, I've been signing Japanese picture books to my daughter, and reading Billy and the Birdfrogs to my nine-year-old son. This story of a boy living with his wacky grandmother combines adventure and mystery. It's got mammoth bones, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and miniature gorillas. What more could you want?