Mr. Bookdwarf Chimes In

No, we’re not married, but it’s too much fun calling him Mr. Bookdwarf. He’s been reading a great deal lately and in what I hope will become a regular feature, I’ve asked him to write up each book in a few sentences:

  • Deogratias by J.P. Stassen: Haunting graphic novel set in post-genocide Rwanda. Brilliantly done in a style that looks like old woodcuts.
  • Abandon the old in Tokyo by Yoshihiro Tatsumi: The second in a series of influential early manga, translated to English and published in the US for the first time. The stories are short, cryptic, and haunting.
  • The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan: This is a life-changing book that examines in great detail what Americans eat and where it comes from. Despite the fact that the fourth section doesn’t live up to the promise of the first three, this book earns comparisons with Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. If enough people read it, maybe we’ll get some better food policy in this country. Maybe.
  • Shenzhen by Guy Delisle : Homesickness and alienation are the order of the day as a French artist supervises outsourced Chinese animation workers. Comes across as self-involved sometimes.
  • American Born Chinese by Gene Yang: A teenager hungry for acceptance is faced with a visiting relative who represents every awful stereotype he’s trying to leave behind. In stories that bring together mythology and popular culture, Yang gives us a sensitive look into the life of second-generation Chinese-American teenager–plus a monkey who’s a kung-fu expert. Enough said.
  • Chinatown Beat by Henry Chang: I’m not usually a mystery reader, but this is very well-written. Set in the NYC Chinatown. The author does tend to overuse brands (the Fury police car, the CK sunglasses, etc. etc.) as setting, but that’s forgivable: you can almost smell the tofu cooking.