Love has to end

This is a quote from the book If Cats Disappeared From the World by Genki Kawamura, translated by Eric Selland.

Quote by Genki Kawamura, “Love has to end. That’s all. And even though everyone knows it they still fall in love.
I guess it’s the same with life. We all know it has to end someday, but even so we act as if we’re going to live forever. Like love, life is beautiful because it has to end.”

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

If you’re interested, you can read an excerpt from the book here.

If Cats Disappeared From the World – Summary

Here is the book summary from Goodreads:

Our narrator’s days are numbered. Estranged from his family, living alone with only his cat Cabbage for company, he was unprepared for the doctor’s diagnosis that he has only months to live. But before he can set about tackling his bucket list, the Devil appears with a special offer: in exchange for making one thing in the world disappear, he can have one extra day of life. And so begins a very bizarre week . . .

Because how do you decide what makes life worth living? How do you separate out what you can do without from what you hold dear? In dealing with the Devil our narrator will take himself – and his beloved cat – to the brink. Genki Kawamura’s If Cats Disappeared from the World is a story of loss and reconciliation, of one man’s journey to discover what really matters in modern life.

Copyright © 2018 by Genki Kawamura.

Translated by: Eric Selland

More details can be found here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.

Life is desire

Excerpt from If Cats Disappeared From the World by Genki Kawamura

Photo by Daria Shatova on Unsplash

This is an excerpt from the book If Cats Disappeared From the World by Genki Kawamura, translated by Eric Selland.

In my dream the man says, “Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.” The little tramp wears a silk hat and an oversized suit, twirling his walking stick as he approaches. I’ve always been moved by these words. When I first heard them and even more so now. I want to tell him how important theyare to me but I can’t get the words out.

The little man continues: “There’s something just as inevitable as death. And that’s life.”

Yes, I get it! For the first time I understand the significance of these words, now that I’m so close to death. Life and death have the same weight. My problem is just that for me the scales are starting to tip more toward the latter.

Until now I’d been living as best I could, and I don’t think I was doing too badly. But now, all I seem to have left is regrets. It feels like my life is gradually being crushed by the overwhelming weight of death.

The man in the suit seems to know what I’m thinking and comes over, stroking his little toothbrush mustache. “What do you want meaning for? Life is desire, not meaning. Life is a beautiful, magnificent thing, even to a jellyfish.”

That must be it. It has to be. Life has meaning for everything, even a jellyfish or a pebble by the side of the road. Even your appendix must exist for a reason.

So what does it mean when I make something disappear from the world? Isn’t that an unforgivable crime? With the meaning of my own life so up in the air, I’m beginning to wonder whether I might actually be worth less than a jellyfish.

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

Cats Disappeared From the World – Summary

Here is the book summary from Goodreads:

Our narrator’s days are numbered. Estranged from his family, living alone with only his cat Cabbage for company, he was unprepared for the doctor’s diagnosis that he has only months to live. But before he can set about tackling his bucket list, the Devil appears with a special offer: in exchange for making one thing in the world disappear, he can have one extra day of life. And so begins a very bizarre week . . .

Because how do you decide what makes life worth living? How do you separate out what you can do without from what you hold dear? In dealing with the Devil our narrator will take himself – and his beloved cat – to the brink. Genki Kawamura’s If Cats Disappeared from the World is a story of loss and reconciliation, of one man’s journey to discover what really matters in modern life.

Copyright © 2018 by Genki Kawamura.

Translated by: Eric Selland

More details can be found here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.

The snow has changed everything

This is a quote from the book The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder.

Quote by Yōko Ogawa, “Everything outside is completely different from when you came here. The snow has changed everything.”

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

If you’re interested, you can read an excerpt from the book here.

The Memory Police – Summary

Here is the book summary:

On an unnamed island off an unnamed coast, objects are disappearing: first hats, then ribbons, birds, roses—until things become much more serious. Most of the island’s inhabitants are oblivious to these changes, while those few imbued with the power to recall the lost objects live in fear of the draconian Memory Police, who are committed to ensuring that what has disappeared remains forgotten.

When a young woman who is struggling to maintain her career as a novelist discovers that her editor is in danger from the Memory Police, she concocts a plan to hide him beneath her floorboards. As fear and loss close in around them, they cling to her writing as the last way of preserving the past.

A surreal, provocative fable about the power of memory and the trauma of loss, The Memory Police is a stunning new work from one of the most exciting contemporary authors writing in any language.

Copyright © 1994 by Yōko Ogawa.

Translated by: Stephen Snyder

You can find more details here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.

The snow has changed everything

Excerpt from The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa

Photo by Aditya Vyas on Unsplash

This is an excerpt from the book The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder.

It snowed again that night. I found I wasn’t at all sleepy, wired from the stress of the afternoon and the strange drink. I took out my manuscript, thinking I would make some progress on my novel, but not a single word came to mind. In the end, I sat by the window and watched the snow through the gap in the curtains.

After some time, I moved aside the dictionary and thesaurus on my desk and pulled out the funnel hidden behind them that we had rigged as a speaker.

“Are you asleep yet?” I asked, my voice hesitant and quiet.

“No, not yet,” R answered, and I could hear the mattress springs squeaking. The funnel in the hidden room was mounted on the wall next to his bed. “What’s happening?”

“Nothing in particular,” I said. “I just can’t sleep.”

The funnel was made of aluminum, dented and quite old. Though I had washed it carefully, it retained a faint odor of spices from its days in the kitchen.

“It’s snowing again,” I told him.

“Is that so? It must be getting deep.”

“It is,” I said. “This is an unusual year.”

“It’s hard to believe it’s snowing just outside the wall here.”

I liked the sound of R’s voice through the makeshift speakers. Like a spring bubbling up far below me. As it traversed the long rubber tube between the two funnels, all unnecessary sounds faded away, leaving only the soft, transparent liquid of his voice. I pressed my ear against the funnel, unwilling to waste even a single drop.

“Sometimes I put my hand on the wall and try to imagine what’s going on outside. It almost seems as though I can sense it—the direction of the wind, the cold, the damp, where you are, the sound of the river, all the vague signs. But in the end, it never words. The wall is just a wall. There’s nothing on the other side, no connection to anything else. This room is completely closed off. All my effort only serves to convince me that I’m living in a cave, suspended in the middle of nothingness.”

“Everything outside is completely different from when you came here. The snow has changed everything.”

“Changed how?”

“Well, it’s difficult to describe. For one thing, the world is completely buried. The snow is so deep that the sun barely starts to melt it when it does come out. It rounds everything, makes it look lumpy, and it somehow makes everything seem much smaller—the sky and sea, the hills and the forest and the river. And we all go around with our shoulders hunched over.”

“Is that so?” he said, and I could hear the springs squeaking again. Perhaps he had stretched out on the bed as we talked. ”Right now, the flakes are quite large, as though all the stars are falling out of the sky. They dance in the shadows and glint in the streetlights and bump into one another. Can you picture it?”

“I’m not sure I can. It’s almost too beautiful to imagine.”

“It’s truly lovely,” I said. “But I suppose that even on a night like this, the Memory Police are out there hunting. Perhaps some memories never perish, even in this cold.”

“I suspect you’re right. And I doubt the cold has any effect. Memories are a lot tougher than you might think. Just like the hearts that hold them.”

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

The Memory Police – Summary

Here is the book summary:

On an unnamed island off an unnamed coast, objects are disappearing: first hats, then ribbons, birds, roses—until things become much more serious. Most of the island’s inhabitants are oblivious to these changes, while those few imbued with the power to recall the lost objects live in fear of the draconian Memory Police, who are committed to ensuring that what has disappeared remains forgotten.

When a young woman who is struggling to maintain her career as a novelist discovers that her editor is in danger from the Memory Police, she concocts a plan to hide him beneath her floorboards. As fear and loss close in around them, they cling to her writing as the last way of preserving the past.

A surreal, provocative fable about the power of memory and the trauma of loss, The Memory Police is a stunning new work from one of the most exciting contemporary authors writing in any language.

Copyright © 1994 by Yōko Ogawa.

Translated by: Stephen Snyder

You can find more details here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.

Such worldly extravagance

This is a quote from the book Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones.

Quote by Olga Tokarczuk, “It’s strange how the Night erases all colours, as if it didn’t give a damn about such worldly extravagance.”

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

If you’re interested, you can read an excerpt from the book here.

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead – Summary

Here is the book summary from Goodreads:

One of Poland’s most imaginative and lyrical writers, Olga Tokarczuk presents us with a detective story with a twist in DRIVE YOUR PLOW OVER THE BONES OF THE DEAD. After her two dogs go missing and members of the local hunting club are found murdered, teacher and animal rights activist Janina Duszejko becomes involved in the ensuing investigation. Part magic realism, part detective story, DRIVE YOUR PLOW OVER THE BONES OF THE DEAD is suspenseful and entertaining reimagining of the genre interwoven with poignant and insightful commentaries on our perceptions of madness, marginalised people and animal rights.

Copyright © 2009 by Olga Tokarczuk.

Translated by: Antonia Lloyd-Jones

You can find more details here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.

Because you’re a woman

Excerpt from Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk

Photo by Atle Mo on Unsplash

This is an excerpt from the book Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones.

Several other men were standing outside the cottage smoking cigarettes. they bowed hesitantly, avoiding eye contact. The death of someone you know is enough to deprive anyone of self-confidence. They all had the same look on their faces – of ritual solemnity and formal ceremonial grief. They spoke to each other in muffled tones. Whoever had finished smoking went inside.

All of them, without exception, had moustaches. They stood gloomily around the folding couch where the body lay. Now and then the door opened and new men arrived, bringing snow and the metallic smell of frost into the room. Most of them were former state-farm workers, now on benefits, though occasionally employed to fell trees. Some of them had gone to work in England, but soon returned, scared of being in a foreign place. Or they doggedly ran small, unprofitable farms that were kept alive by subsidies from the European Union. There were only men in the cottage. The room was steamy with their breath, and now I could smell a faint whiff of ingested alcohol, tobacco and damp clothing. They were casting furtive, rapid glances at the body. I could hear sniffling, but I don’t know if it was just the cold, or if in fact tears had sprung to the eyes of these great big men, but finding no outlet there, were flowing into their noses. Oddball wasn’t there, or anyone else I knew.

One of the men took a handful of flat candles in little metal cups from his pocket and gave them to me with such an overt gesture that I automatically accepted them. Only after a lengthy pause did I realize what he had in mind. Ah, yes – I was to position the candles around the body and light them; things would become solemn and ceremonial. Maybe their flames would allow the tears to flow and soak into the bushy moustaches. And that would bring them all relief. So I bustled about with the candles, thinking that many of them must have the wrong idea about my involvement. They took me for the mistress of ceremonies, for the chief mourner, for once the candles were burning, they suddenly fell silent and fixed their sad gazes on me.

‘Please begin,’ a man whom I thought I knew from somewhere whispered to me.

I didn’t understand.

‘Please start singing.’

‘What am I to sing?’ I asked, genuinely alarmed. ‘I don’t know how to sing.’

‘Anything,’ he said, ‘best of all, “Eternal Rest”.’

‘Why me?’ I asked in an impatient whisper.

At this point the man standing closest to me replied firmly: ‘Because you’re a woman.’

Oh, I see. So that’s the order of the day. I didn’t know what my gender had to do with singing, but I wasn’t going to rebel against tradition at a time like this. ‘Eternal Rest’. I remembered that hymn from funerals I had attended in my childhood; as an adult I never went to them. But I’d forgotten the words. It turned out, however, that all I had to do was mumble the beginning and a whole chorus of deep voices instantly joined in with my feeble one, producing a hesitant polyphony which was out of tune but gathered strength with every repetition. and suddenly I felt relief myself, my voice gained confidence and soon I had remembered the simple words about the Perpetual Light that, as we believed, would enfold Big Foot as well.

We sang like that for about an hour, the same thing over and over, until the words ceased to have any meaning, as if they were pebbles in the sea, tossed eternally by the saves, until they were round and as alike as two grains of sand. It undoubtedly gave us respite, and the corpse lying there became more and more unreal, until it was just an excuse for this gathering of hard-working people on the windy Plateau. We sang about the real Light that exists somewhere far away, imperceptible for now, but that we shall behold as soon as we die. Now we can only see it through a pane of glass, or in a crooked mirror, but one day we shall stand face to face with it. And it will enfold us, for it is our mother, this Light, and we came from it. We even carry a particle of it within us, each of us, even Big Foot. So in fact death should please us. that’s what I was thinking as I sang, though in actual fact I have never believed in any personalized distribution of eternal Light. No Lord God is going to see to it, no celestial accountant. It would be hard for one individual to bear so much suffering, especially an omniscient one in my view they would collapse under the burden of all that pain, unless equipped in advance with some form of defence mechanism, as Mankind is. Only a piece of machinery could possibly carry all the world’s pain. Only a machine, simple, effective and just. But if everything were to happen mechanically, our prayers wouldn’t be needed.

When I went outside, I saw that the moustachioed men who had summoned the priest were now greeting him in front of the cottage. The priest hadn’t been able to drive all the way here – his car was stuck in a snowdrift, so they’d had to bring him here by tractor. Father Rustle (as I privately called him) brushed off his cassock, and gratefully jumped to the ground. Without looking at anyone, at a fast pace he went inside. He passed so close that his scent enveloped me – a mixture of eau de Cologne and smouldering fireplace.

I noticed that Oddball was extremely well organized. In his sheepskin work coat, like the master of ceremonies, he was pouring coffee from a large Chinese thermos into plastic cups and handing them out to the mourners. So there we stood outside the house, and drank hot, sweetened coffee.

The name of the book comes from William Blake’s prose work called The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, in a section called the Proverbs of Hell, you can read it here.

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead – Summary

Here is the book summary from Goodreads:

One of Poland’s most imaginative and lyrical writers, Olga Tokarczuk presents us with a detective story with a twist in DRIVE YOUR PLOW OVER THE BONES OF THE DEAD. After her two dogs go missing and members of the local hunting club are found murdered, teacher and animal rights activist Janina Duszejko becomes involved in the ensuing investigation. Part magic realism, part detective story, DRIVE YOUR PLOW OVER THE BONES OF THE DEAD is suspenseful and entertaining reimagining of the genre interwoven with poignant and insightful commentaries on our perceptions of madness, marginalised people and animal rights.

Copyright © 2009 by Olga Tokarczuk.

Translated by: Antonia Lloyd-Jones

You can find more details here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.

Those eyes become the sky

This is a quote from the book Apple & Knife by Intan Paramaditha, translated by Stephen J. Epstein.

Quote by Intan Paramaditha, “She seems almost to smile, but no smile is reflected in her grey eyes. Gita watches as those eyes become the sky. Clouds gather within, they let loose rain, but no thunder.”

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

If you’re interested, you can read an excerpt from the book here.

Apple & Knife – Summary

Here is the book summary from Goodreads:

Inspired by horror fiction, myths and fairy tales, Apple and Knife is an unsettling ride that swerves into the supernatural to explore the dangers and power of occupying a female body in today’s world.

These stories set in the Indonesian everyday – in corporate boardrooms, in shanty towns, on dangdut stages – reveal a soupy otherworld stewing just beneath the surface. This is subversive feminist horror at its best, where men and women alike are arbiters of fear, and where revenge is sometimes sweetest when delivered from the grave.

Dark, humorous, and vividly realised, Apple and Knife brings together taboos, inversions, sex and death in a heady, intoxicating mix.

Note: It’s important to understand that some stories require a trigger warning.

Copyright © 2018 by Intan Paramaditha.

Translated by: Stephen J. Epstein

More details can be found here on Goodreads and on Storygraph.

Five books that may make you question reality

We are not entering spooky season, as we get close to Halloween and immerse ourselves in the fall spirit. In honour of spooky season, I’ll be sharing a variety of books that could be considered “spooky” either by having supernatural elements or having thriller/horror elements. Enjoy!


For this week, I wanted to share some fiction books that may make you question reality.

Most of these books deal with some aspect of society and paints it in a new light. I find they make you question reality because the books shift the way you think about societal norms.

I believe that some of the best books are the ones that leave you thinking about them for long after you’ve finished them. If a book has made a big impression on you, then it has accomplished a lot.

Each of these books lingered in my mind and made me re-evaluate something significant. Maybe you’ll have a similar experience.

I’ve included a range of books, most of them translated. Also, three of them would be considered novellas, so there’s some shorter options if that’s what you’re looking for.

Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash

Five books that may make you question reality

Here’s a list of five books that may make you question reality. I’ve listed them in order of when they’ve been published.

  1. The Outsider/The Stranger by Albert Camus (1942)
  2. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu (2006)
  3. Confessions by Kanae Minato (2006)
  4. Earthlings by Sayaka Murata (2018)
  5. The Test by Sylvain Neuvel (2019)

Keep reading to find out more about each one.

The Outsider/The Stranger (1942)

by Albert Camus Translated by Joseph Laredo

  • Year Published: 1942
    English version published in 1946
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction, classics, literary, dark, reflective, medium-paced

Published in 1942 by French author Albert Camus, The Stranger has long been considered a classic of twentieth-century literature. Le Monde ranks it as number one on its “100 Books of the Century” list. Through this story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on a sundrenched Algerian beach, Camus explores what he termed “the nakedness of man faced with the absurd.”

Links:

The Three-Body Problem (2006)

by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu

  • Year Published: 2006
    English version published in 2014
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction, science fiction, adventurous, challenging, mysterious, slow-paced
  • Hugo Award winner & best selling Chinese Science Fiction

The Three-Body Problem is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience the Hugo Award-winning phenomenon from China’s most beloved science fiction author, Cixin Liu .

Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.

Links:

Confessions (2008)

by Kanae Minato Translated by Stephen Snyder

  • Year Published: 2008
    English version published in 2014
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction, crime, mystery, thriller, dark, mysterious, fast-paced
  • It won both the Hanya Taisho Award and the Alex Award.

Her pupils killed her daughter.Now, she will have her revenge.

After calling off her engagement in wake of a tragic revelation, Yuko Moriguchi had nothing to live for except her only child, four-year-old Manami. Now, following an accident on the grounds of the middle school where she teaches, Yuko has given up and tendered her resignation.

But first she has one last lecture to deliver. She tells a story that upends everything her students ever thought they knew about two of their peers, and sets in motion a maniacal plot for revenge.

Narrated in alternating voices, with twists you’ll never see coming, Confessions explores the limits of punishment, despair, and tragic love, culminating in a harrowing confrontation between teacher and student that will place the occupants of an entire school in danger. You’ll never look at a classroom the same way again.

Links:

Earthlings (2018)

by Sayaka Murata Translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori

  • Year Published: 2018
    English version in 2020
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction, horror, literary, magical realism, challenging, dark, medium-paced
  • Note, this novel deals with many difficult themes, I would recommend checking content warnings before reading if there are any subjects you want to avoid.

Natsuki isn’t like the other girls. She has a wand and a transformation mirror. She might be a witch, or an alien from another planet. Together with her cousin Yuu, Natsuki spends her summers in the wild mountains of Nagano, dreaming of other worlds. When a terrible sequence of events threatens to part the two children forever, they make a promise: survive, no matter what.

Now Natsuki is grown. She lives a quiet life with her asexual husband, surviving as best she can by pretending to be normal. But the demands of Natsuki’s family are increasing, her friends wonder why she’s still not pregnant, and dark shadows from Natsuki’s childhood are pursuing her. Fleeing the suburbs for the mountains of her childhood, Natsuki prepares herself with a reunion with Yuu. Will he still remember their promise? And will he help her keep it?

Links:

The Test (2019)

by Sylvain Neuvel

  • Year Published: 2019
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction, dystopian, challenging, dark, emotional, fast-paced

Award-winning author Sylvain Neuvel explores an immigration dystopia in The Test

Britain, the not-too-distant future.

Idir is sitting the British Citizenship Test.

He wants his family to belong.

Twenty-five questions to determine their fate. Twenty-five chances to impress.

When the test takes an unexpected and tragic turn, Idir is handed the power of life and death.

How do you value a life when all you have is multiple choice?

Links:

Final thoughts

I hope you found something of interest in this list of books.

I’m always looking for more suggestions of books to read. I’d love to know which books you love or that you would recommend. Let me know in a comment below!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of it?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below.

People speak of her only in whispers

Excerpt from Apple & Knife by Intan Paramadith

Photo by Trang Nguyen on Unsplash

This is an excerpt from the book Apple & Knife by Intan Paramaditha, translated by Stephen J. Epstein.

‘What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?’

Gita sees the woman for the first time. Her face is hard, cheekbones high, jaw sharp. Her sallow, mottled skin does little more than mask her wispy frame. Cheap batik is draped haphazardly around her waist, and a black kebaya and black headscarf render her even more sombre. As soon as she draws near, Gita catches an odd, pungent odour. It’s not human sweat but fragrant cloves from a distant realm, incense for departed souls, stiff bodies bathed in flowers before being placed into the grave.

No scent of life wafts from the abode. Its distance from the city and its seclusion should have freshened the house but the owner cares little for vegetation. Brown curtains dangle in the windows. Branches of frangipani shade the yard, making the sun reluctant to greet the weeds spreading on the ground. A dark fence, peeling and rusty, serves as a barrier between the house and the outside world.

Like a snail in a shell, shunning interaction.

And rightly so. The woman now in front of Gita is notorious in her hometown, which is nestled up against the cliffs of Cadas Pangeran. People speak of her only in whispers. Sumarni. A witch. A sorceress allied with the devil. A second Mak Lampir, the evil conjurer. Yes, Lord, may she not find forgiveness.

Gita realises that the woman is waiting for her to answer.

‘I’m doing research,’ says Gita, trying to conceal her nervous ness, and to convey and attitude of respect. ‘Of course, your name and place of residence will be disguised.’

The wrinkled woman squints and regards her coldly. ‘That is necessary.’

Her eyes probe, trying to confirm that Gita hasn’t smuggled in a camera or some other recording device. Maybe the women has lost a substantial sum buying off the police. Or maybe she is irritated because most visitors take advantage of her. Recently, a TV crew came from Jakarta to interview her as a source for a crime drama. They broadcast her later in blurred black and white, masking her eyes with a thick strip. The episode’s title? ‘The Dark Side of Women.’

Gita enquires delicately about the woman’s profession. What it is that she does. How long she has been… practising it.

Embarrassed, Gita does not utter the phrase that dances in her thoughts: disposing of life. It sounds like a mantra of the damned.

The old woman’s lips are clamped shut, even though she has already worked out the situation. She knows what people expect of her. The mark is on her forehead, a bright red stamp that will never disappear.

‘I’ve been doing this for a long time,’ she says, slowly and heavily. ‘Maybe thirty years. Maybe more.’

It’s as if time is gnawed away by termites here. The hours melt into the night, and the tick of the clock no longer matters.

‘Why do they do it?’

‘They don’t want to, child, but nature punishes those who give in to lust. They can’t control themselves: their eyes, their fingers, their breath, their womb. They are like leaves that yellow, dry up, and fall to the ground.’

‘I don’t understand.’

‘Ah, no one tries to understand.’

‘Why do you do it?’

Sumarni’s lips turn up slightly at the corners. She seems almost to smile, but no smile is reflected in her grey eyes. Gita watches as those eyes become the sky. Clouds gather within, they let loose rain, but no thunder.

‘Child, for the sake of one life, sometimes you have to extinguish another. Some birds must destroy themselves in flame to give birth to a new generation. We consider it natural, even noble, to be born to sacrifice. Like Sinta in the Ramayana. And therein lies your value. You never knew, child, that dead birds surround you, breathing the same air as you. They look alive, but maggots, invisible to the eye, gnaw their rotting flesh. They are only present as givers of life; like water, sometimes polluted, which gushes forth continuously formless. Water can only mould itself to the vessel.

‘And I, child, I have indeed been an ally of the devil. Because I know that some birds don’t want to destroy themselves in flames. I know that there are waters that simply want to freeze rather than become wellsprings for the sake of a stillness that they have never known.’

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

Apple & Knife – Summary

Here is the book summary from Goodreads:

Inspired by horror fiction, myths and fairy tales, Apple and Knife is an unsettling ride that swerves into the supernatural to explore the dangers and power of occupying a female body in today’s world.

These stories set in the Indonesian everyday – in corporate boardrooms, in shanty towns, on dangdut stages – reveal a soupy otherworld stewing just beneath the surface. This is subversive feminist horror at its best, where men and women alike are arbiters of fear, and where revenge is sometimes sweetest when delivered from the grave.

Dark, humorous, and vividly realised, Apple and Knife brings together taboos, inversions, sex and death in a heady, intoxicating mix.

Note: It’s important to understand that some stories require a trigger warning.

Copyright © 2018 by Intan Paramaditha.

Translated by: Stephen J. Epstein

More details can be found here on Goodreads and on Storygraph.

Beloved Uncle

This is a quote from the book Earthlings by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori.

Quote by Sayaka Murata, “The tensions of meeting after such a long time was beginning to dissipate, and I could feel the beloved uncle who had always spoiled me as a kid coming through.”

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

If you’re interested, you can read an excerpt from the book here.

Earthlings – Summary

Here is the book summary from Goodreads:

Natsuki isn’t like the other girls. She has a wand and a transformation mirror. She might be a witch, or an alien from another planet. Together with her cousin Yuu, Natsuki spends her summers in the wild mountains of Nagano, dreaming of other worlds. When a terrible sequence of events threatens to part the two children forever, they make a promise: survive, no matter what.

Now Natsuki is grown. She lives a quiet life with her asexual husband, surviving as best she can by pretending to be normal. But the demands of Natsuki’s family are increasing, her friends wonder why she’s still not pregnant, and dark shadows from Natsuki’s childhood are pursuing her. Fleeing the suburbs for the mountains of her childhood, Natsuki prepares herself with a reunion with Yuu. Will he still remember their promise? And will he help her keep it?

Copyright © 2018 by Sayaka Murata.

Translated by: Ginny Tapley Takemori

More details here on Goodreads and on Storygraph.