Going through the Google suggested articles on my phone (open your chrome app, and as long as your home page is google.com, or on google.com, scroll down, you can read suggested articles), I had an article that today was going to be World Book Day, and Amazon was giving away 9 books from around the world, translated into English for the 9 days leading up to today.
Who wouldn’t take a look at the list? Unfortunately, I think a lot. I got 3 books off the list, and got the audiobook version for $2 each, so I could partake in this day. It’s also nice to learn about other cultures, and what others went through. Fiction or true story, I’m sharing my review on 2 of the books given for free: “A River in Darkness” by Masaji Ishikawa, and “The Last Train to Istambul” by Ayse Kulin. The other one I’ll do another post on soon.
I spent most of what I could of Wednesday and Thursday last week, listening to the first book, and took my time up until today, to listen to the second. Why? Because the second one IS. SO. LONG.
So I’ll start with “A River in Darkness”. It’s a true story from a guy who was half Korean, half Japanese, whose father got the promise of North Korea becoming a nation of its own, a paradise, which fell through. The family moved to North Korea, even though the dad was born in the south.
He stayed there through his parents’ passing, in the 90’s, and had his own family there as well. After he couldn’t afford to keep raising his family with the “lowest of low” status he had, as a Japanese man, he tries to deflect, and makes it into China, and makes it to the consulate, to try to make it back to his home, Japan, to hopefully save his family as well.
Hearing him go through the troubles he did, with hearing his parent’s death, years apart, while seeing his sister pregnant out of wedlock, to his issues with moving just from China back to Japan, is something. I even wrote in my gratitude journal, that I was glad (and am glad) and grateful for the fact that I grew up here in the States.
Listening to this story, helps me connect a bit with the distaste that the Japanese people had against Koreans, especially the North. My dad grew up in Japan, as a white boy, and was discriminated against, and grew up knowing some of these distastes of Koreans, still affecting him to this day, I’m sure.
Now let’s dive into the other book I listened to: “Last Train to Istanbul”.
I’m so glad that I went for the audio book version of this! Kindle suggests a 9 hour reading time, and a 12 hour listening time, but OMG my attention span would make the reading time like 20 hours, I’m sure of it. But I got through just under half of it, by listening to it, just in the first “session”, during my first day back at my mundane job.
You follow a few different families, during both world wars, and it’s truly so much to take in. Hearing their differences, how they came together in their own family, for whatever reason, to eventually come to a lot of the same fears, for different reasons, is so amazing.
I can tell you though, that the second half (really the last third, just about) makes the book. The first third feels like it’s going on forever, and the second third has some “meat” to it, but the last third is where you see all of the characters’ stories come together, on that journey to Turkey. The journey to get to the train, and the train ride, you really feel their anxieties, from each stop, to while they’re blatantly going through Berlin, like if half of them weren’t Jewish, is something else. It really does end on a bittersweet note as well.
Learning and appreciating different cultures is not something that is to be frowned upon. It’s the same thing we need to do about other cultures and countries, that we need to do the same with history. They go hand in hand. So please, read, listen, and talk to others who may have lived a little differently than you. And of course, share yours when the time comes as well, with those who want to learn about yours.