The China Lover by Ian Buruma
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I have finally given up on this book, 3/4 of the way through, which is highly unusual for me.
I really wanted to like it--the plot sounded interesting, about a Japanese woman who grew up in China and became a successful actor there during the war, and then reinvented herself in Japan and also in the U.S. with different identities throughout her life. The story is based on the life of the real-life Ri Koran.
However. The author, famous Japan expert Ian Buruma, uses three different male narrators to tell her story. The effect is that the reader never really gets very close to Yamaguchi Yoshiko...because of the distance created by this type of narration. Buruma also throws in tons of minor characters, and frankly, I just had a hard time staying interested toward the end.
The novel is divided into three parts, and I read through the first two and began scanning through the third one when I finally decided to give up.
I did leave it with two stars, however, because I'm interested in almost anything about Japan and China...and I found it intriguing to read about life in Japan during the occupation.
But this could have been done so much better. I agree with Japan resident and author Suzanne Kamata's review of this book...the only reason I took a chance on it was because of my interest in Japan and China. Unfortunately, I regret that I wasn't reading something more captivating!
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