I’ve been on a bit of an alternate-history kick recently, which has led me to believe that it is possibly one of the most challenging genres an author might tackle. Call it the Butterfly Effect or Domino Effect or just plain Jenga, but changing a single event in history causes a cascade of changes, and if the author misses even one of those, the book loses its believability.
Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters is an alternate reality in the present day where slavery was never outlawed in the USA, and is still practiced in four major states. It is a horrifying thought and an important topic in light of current race-relations in the USA and much of the world.
During the American occupation, the citizens of Japan were encouraged to apply directly to General MacArthur – “if you have a problem, write a letter, this is what democracy means” – and so write they did. MacArthur received over 500,000 letters, letters of entreaty, rage, gratitude, complaint, even adoration.
Twelve-year-old Fumi Tanaka has a problem – her beautiful and beloved older sister, Sumiko, has disappeared. Determined to find her, Fumi enlists the help of her new classmate Aya, forcibly repatriated with her father from Canada after the war. Together, they write to MacArthur and deliver their letter into the reluctant hands of Corporal Matt Matsumoto, a Japanese-American GI whose job it is to translate the endless letters.
Before reading The Translation of Love by Lynne Kutsukake, I had no idea about post-war Japan’s American occupation. I had even traveled to Japan, so I don’t know how I missed the enormity of the changes that occurred in Japan during the period of occupation. Continue reading “The Translation of Love [Book Review]”→
Last year I made an infographic for Black Dove, White Raven, and although it hardly interested as many readers as I had hoped, it was something I immensely enjoyed doing. So I am thrilled to share a new infographic, this time about Fiji and the novel I read, Kalyana by Rajni Mala Khelawan.
I’ve been trying to find the right name for this particular kind of book, and the best I can come up with is “saga” – you know, those books that usually span a few generations, or at least several different stages of a character’s life. They are usually historical fiction, but I find that what distinguishes them is really that the majority of books we read (in my completely anecdotal experience) take a brief look at a brief period, full of action and emotions, in a character’s life. Saga’s are sometimes less action-packed, but they weave a tapestry of a community, a family, or a personality.
So uh – if that makes any sense to you, and you like it, here are some recommendations (in so particular order).
I didn’t want to know that the man with the compound skull fracture had fallen into a sewer drain while being chased by the police because he was the man that had been scamming poor people out of their grant money for months.
I didn’t want to know that the man with the gangrenous arm had been bitten two weeks ago, by a girl he was trying to rape.
I understand the importance of a good clinical history. But right now, while I’m saving their lives, can I not simply know that he fell in a ditch? Or that he suffered a human bite?
I don’t want to know WHY these things happened to them. Not right now in any case. Tell me later, when they have pulled through the worst. Tell me then, if you must.
I’ve decided to start a new sort-of series (that will obviously be completely irregular) about things I learn from books. Fictional books! I love learning new things, and that’s not only limited to topics in my chosen profession. One of the reasons I love reading is that it opens my eyes to so many things I never knew, or points of view I had not considered.
* A review of Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee, as imagined in a world where To Kill A Mockingbird never existed; and therefore GSaW did not become an instant bestseller based purely upon its history. Disclaimer: there may be some spoilers if you have not read any of the recent hubbub about GSaW. Also, if you mistake my creative license as reality then I’m not even going to respond.
When I was asked by Figure 1 which one piece of medical equipment I valued above all others, I said “my hearing”. We were taught from the very beginning that a good history was our first step to an accurate diagnosis, and I have always valued a physician who LISTENS: to their patients, their students, their allies, and their contemporaries.
Remember the game we always played? – “If you had to lose one sense, which would it be?”
I thought of my dad, who is blind: when he applied to do an honours degree in Psychology, his application was denied based on the fact that he would not be able to see his client’s faces (ridiculous, really. That was nearly 30 years ago). It had me thinking: what about a blind physician? We have many blind physiotherapists, but surely doctors must SEE… a quick Google search proved me wrong.
If you’ve spent any amount of time on the internet, you will have seen this image (alongside) about Jonas Salk refusing to patent his Polio vaccine. For the longest time that was one of the only real thing I knew about Jonas Salk – that, and the column of differences between the “Salk” and “Sabine” vaccines that we had to study during MS1.
This is going to be my favourite Top Ten Tuesday! Right in line with the We Need Diverse Books campaign, here is a list of my favourite books that celebrate diversity (example: features minority/religious minority, socioeconomic diversity, disabled MC, neurotypical character, LGBTQ etc etc.).
It’s kind of sad how few books are truly diverse. When I was going through my books, I noticed that although a lot of books had diverse characters, many of them were fairly flat and seemed to be little more than tokens. I mean, it’s kind of like movies having the token female scientist and then thinking they’re sorted for diversity. Uhm, no. Not that this is at all a groundbreaking realisation, so moving on to the books: Continue reading “Top Ten Diverse Books”→