Fiction

The Sympathizer

I’m not a typical fan of Pulitzer winners… but I went ahead and read The Sympathizer and reviewed it for my side gig, Snotty Literati. Here’s what we thought.

Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan

Green-IslandIn the opening pages of Shawna Yang Ryan’s Green Island, we are transported to 1947 Taiwan, a county overtaken by violence and fear as it succumbs to Martial Law. Here we meet Dr. Tsai and his wife, confined to their home as she’s laboring with their fourth child. Shortly after their daughter’s birth, Dr. Tsai is heard speaking out against the Chinese Nationalists. This public dissent results in his arrest and imprisonment on Green Island for more than a decade. He returns a shell of the man he once was, to a family that is struggling to embrace him.

Green Island, narrated by Dr. Tsai’s youngest, and unnamed, child, is an epic journey of historical fiction and political unrest spanning 60 years and two continents. I was hooked immediately and found myself angry, saddened, and frustrated by the horrific events at the hands of power-hungry, fear-mongering people. Ryan has crafted a truly engaging story of family bonds and betrayals that will keep you turning the pages and thinking long after the last page is read.

4 Stars

Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera

Signs Preceding the End of the WorldEvery year, I try to read a handful of books I might not normally read. These aren’t books that are “out of my comfort zone” like zombie apocalypse, vampire YA stuff… but books that can expand my reach and reading experience. Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera is the perfect kind of book to do this.

Signs, written in Herrera’s native Spanish and translated by Lisa Dillman, tells the story of Makina, a young Mexican woman making the dangerous trek across the U.S./Mexican Border to deliver an unmarked package and find her brother. Marina’s brother crossed over a year ago, with the sketchy promise of land acquisition.

In just 107 pages, Herrara give us a glimpse into a world many of us don’t know, but may talk–or even argue–a lot about. It’s a world of many unknowns and uncertainties; and one that delivers a solemn punch about the realities of how humans choose to treat one another.

4 Stars