Friday, 21 September 2007

My Name is Sei Shonagon

This is a weird co-incidence, I've just finished reading My Name is Sei Shonagon, a wonderful first novel by Jan Blensdorf and then I popped over to Sunday Scribblings to find out what the topic is and its 'Hi, My Name is'. So, a book review.

Sei Shonagon was the tenth century author of The Pillow Book. She is also a modern woman of Japanese American parentage living in Tokyo trying to fit into a society she feels she doesn't really belong to after years in the USA. The modern Sei Shonagon constantly struggles to find beauty and worth in everything around her even when she faces stern and unwelcoming relatives or grave illness.

The novel is simply and beautifully written and reflects the contradictions in Japanese life, the ultra modern fast moving business world set against love of the natural world reflected through haiku poetry, cherry tree viewing and the careful crafting of incenses from natural material. Modern life is often compared to natural processes in a narrative that flows naturally and poetically.

I loved this book and was sad to get to the end. It offers an incredible amount of insight in relatively few pages and stays in the mind after reading.


Hi, My Name Is.... for Sunday Scribblings

28 comments:

Just Jen said...

It sounds like a book that you will have to read again! Love those kind of books.

Rose Dewy Knickers said...

That sounds like a very interesting book. Thanks for the review. :)

Joseph C. Harris said...

Sounds like a book that I would be interested in. Thank you for writing about it. And thank you for visiting my blog.

ybonesy said...

First time visiting your blog. It's wonderful. I'm going to poke around some more. But I wanted also to say that I love the writing prompt. It reminds me of the poem "I am from..." in terms of what it might unearth.

ana said...

sounds like an interesting book indeed..your blog seems stalkeriffic...I'm adding you to my link list for everyday read :)

harmonyinline said...

Sounds like a good book thanks for recommending it

paisley said...

this makes me want to enjoy this book as well... thank you ....

Herb Urban said...

Your review piqued my interest. I will definitely seek out this book. Thanks!

Jo said...

I have a huge interest in Japan, so will order this today. Thanks for the insight.

paris parfait said...

My daughter has this book and I'd just glanced at it and thought it looked interesting. Now I will find time to read it.

Patois said...

When will the pay-for-post people realize that it's those of us not being paid who are the real influencers? I'm heading to the library today with the kids, and I'm going to take one whole minute to myself -- damn it -- to find this in the adult section. To coincidental that you'd finished the book and this prompt came up. The universe is speaking! I shall listen.

Devil Mood said...

That sounds really interesting. I love a kind of oriental flavour in books :)

Autrice DelDrago said...

This is one book that I intend to read!

Frances said...

This week's prompt will definitely be among my favorites.
I will be checking out this book on my next Barnes & Noble excursion.
Thanks for sharing.
Frances

MissMeliss said...

Sounds like an interesting read...

colleen said...

I thought you were saying that was your name. I was surprised.

MX-Susan said...

Sounds like a book I would spend an enitre day reading

gautami said...

Good to see you posting again. This book is on my read list.

I like your review!

raymond pert said...

The parts of The Pillow Book I've read were exquisite. I've just finished reading Louise Steinman's "The Souvenir: A Daughter Discovers her Father's War". After her father's death, Steinman travels to Japan to return a flag to family. The flag has a family member's name on it and the flag was part of Steinman's father's keepsakes from the Second World War. It's a beautiful, if unsettling book. This book led me to watch "Letters from Iwo Jima", as stirring and fascinating a film as I've watched. Lately, my focus has been on Japan and finding out about My Name is Sei Shonagon moves me to want to continue along this line of reading and study. I'm going to order it from the library right now.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Patois - you're right there!

Colleen - i did wonder if anyone would think that!

Gautami - I post most days, just had a break from Sunday Scribblings and of course Poetry Thursday is no more.

I get the feeling there's going to be a run on this book in bookstores and libraries - hope you all enjoy!

Becca said...

A great recommendation...I'm always interested in books about the Asian culture. Have you read "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan," and "Peony in Love"? Both novels are by Lisa See, and are excellent for their historical portrayal of women's live in China.

danae sinclair said...

thanks for that... often think about the movie, the pillow book - I've made it a regular thing to write lists of things of beauty - but hadn't heard much about the author.

Steve said...

Books can be like that!
Not that I read mind you No No No!

Tag said...

I'll have to add this to my reading list of books I read while traveling.

Thanks!

spacedlaw said...

That sounds like a lovely book.

Karina said...

Thanks for the review, this sounds like something to be added to my "TBR" list.

tinker said...

What a coincidence that should be the prompt this week. Thanks for the review, I hadn't heard of the book before reading this. I'll keep my eye out for it.

Jennifer Hicks said...

It's on my reading list!

What a delightfully engaging review!

Thanks for sharing.