SBP Blog

The Literary Review on Shun Medoruma's 'In the Woods of Memory'

Thomas Joel - Monday, April 02, 2018

The Literary Review just wrote a penetrating and eloquent article on Shun Medoruma's novel In the Woods of Memory, asserting that it's "not simply a meditation on the failure to act, but on the inability to act either rightly or enough or both."

Here's a particularly incisive passage:

War, rape, and stabbings notwithstanding, the most viscerally gruesome and emotionally demeaning chapter plays out in a present day Okinawan middle school. When a chronically bullied pre-teen girl is forced to drink other girls’ spit, she throws up, and then takes the blame (both internally and publically) for the incident. As the girl who orchestrated the attack offers to take bullied girl to the school nurse, (“—Let’s wash your face, she says in a gentle voice”) the reader’s stomach turns. The act completes the cycle of abuse, where the controlling party torments and then care-takes the victim, leaving the wounded in anticipatory angst, in the same way that the Americans ravaged, then provided food and protection for, and then re-attacked, the Okinawan people. These scenes exemplify both the depth of violation betrayals of the body can incur and the added layer of horror present when your attacker has convinced you, despite past evidence, that they will not harm you again. This deep desire to believe you’re safe means that when another assault occurs, you erroneously blame yourself both for bringing the attack on and for your naiveté.

Read the full book review here.



Like our blog? Please share it!


Subscribe to the SBP Mailing List

New Releases

Amy’s Guide to Best Behavior in Japan

Going to Japan? This unfussy modern guide guarantees you keep it polite and get it right!

Easy and Fun Katakana

Learn the second key Japanese syllabary from every angle: reading, writing, and real-world examples.

Oh, Tama!

A deeply eccentric novel about lives and connections—and a cat of course—in 1980s Tokyo: witty, offbeat, and strangely profound.

The Fourth String

Two women. Two cultures. One music.

Tag Cloud

learning in japan foreigner in japan Tokyo Olympics gaijinpot sensei and me japan restaurant japan today michael emmerich monk wife amy chavez Chinese history japanese etiquette tracy franz shun medoruma japan food will eisner Christianity in Japan hitler journal of a zen monks wife in japan paul mccarthy stone bridge cafe a shameful life memoir, tracy franz, zen monk, buddhist literary review holden caufield illustration writing how to tea garden Alexandra Johnson journal' monks wife in the woods of memory Japanese aesthetics literature haiku juddhism guide japan book review welton gaddy internment jing liu japan culture learning shamisen huffington post Japan book signing japanese classic japanese instrument author signing sensei hate how to travel in japan frank beyer japanese drunk kyoto japanese people amys guide to bes tbehavior in japan hooked cross zen monk japan behavior yukio mishima diy mfa book talk damian flanagan fantasy literature the silver spoon washington dc min kahng new york events book review japan trip lesley university new release huffpost year of zen leonard koren japan vacation holocaust the buddhist swastika book award japanese cutlure buddhism student teacher monks wife finalist tea Children's Books otakuusa hiroaki sato japanese books 2019 Japanese literature the fourth string a memoir of sensei and me evil Travel diymfa Basho gaijin pot fred schodt memior japan custom zen monk wife ningen shikkaku zen China buddhist symbols photography buddhist Basho's Narrow Road osamu tezuka IBPA The Colorado Review the millions AAS forewrod reviews indies danica davidson new books author tour walt disney Chiune Sugihara t.k. nakagaki travel Japan chinese comics shamisen japanese instruments manners World War II Korea photography etiquette shaimsen bookstore blurb journal of a zen monk's wife wife nara best behavior in japan travel to japan dazai podcast japanese craft manga rachel manley japan memoir brad hawley classic japanese literature the japan times interfaith Japanese art oh tama foreword reviews memoir writing verticle History Chinese culture lions roar politics and prose japanese translation Art/Design Children's Literature religion asia a memoir american shamisen jared cook comics 1960's Japan author event anime japan travel award swastika new york hippocampus magazine the japan society what do in japan mark gibeau literary prize Shoah book blurb review why we write podcast Chinese Astrology buddhist swastika astrology pacific rim review of books the asian review of books japanese travel koun Nikolas Bunton takuma sminkey classic no longer human ibpa publishing university suehiro maruo peace kinokuniya event zazen tricycle magazine catcher in the rye my year of dirt and water matcha traditional japanese instrumenet purification japanese mieko kanai center of east asian studies journal of a zen monk kyodo news giajin benjamin franklin awards japan books william f sibley alan moore japan book state of belief Okinawan literature performance amys guide to best behavior in japan Spring Festival asian review of books Language kansuke naka osaka seppuku japanese books in english Spirituality nazi ritual musical 2020 Olympics japanese customs ancient symbols publicity journal Interview diary pottery World War Two tomoko aoyama Christianity disney PEN AWARD alan brill osamu dazai Anime/Manga/Comics a mejiro novel hitlers cross ex pat literature Year of the Dog dark horse awards graphic novels event behavior monk tk nakagaki bowing in japan polite eating in japan benjamin franklin award Chinese New Year astro boy japanese culture donald keene VIZ Asian Studies china history gratitude in japan Poetry gaijin japan guide japan etiquette book hoarding reviews the hidden writer tourist janet pocorobba japanese book book publicity frederik schodt book tour UCLA koto buddhist priest four immigrants Korea announcement shamisen performance stone bridge press world literature today comic history traditional japanese instrument expat poetry of consciousness book tokyo japanese bath suicide manga biography university of chicago non-fiction haibun visitor book reading Coming of Age Day WWII publishing jun hazuki drinking in japan author foreword indies eastern and western philosophy living in japan japanese music Second World War book reviews black jack 1960s Korea books Culture ancient symbol gallery awa Olympics how to order in japan green tea nichi bei weekly, naomi hirarahara memoir henry kiyama janet pocrobba zen monk in japan traditional Ukiyo-e manji understandind china through comics Japanese holidays Translation the fourth string a memoir of sensei and me