Three: Giveaway winners!

31 July, 2012

Thank you all for your lovely wishes and participating in the giveaway. Winners were picked from my lovely Thai Celadon bowl. Names were put in as requested for each book separately.

Chinoiseries wins Naomi by Junichiro Tanizaki.

Amritorupa wins The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt.

And Gaskella wins What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt.

Congratulations to all three and e-mails have been sent.

And good luck to everyone next year!


14 July, 2012

chasing bawa is THREE today!

I’m flabbergasted that three years of blogging has passed by in a blink of an eye, which shows how much fun I’m still having writing and discussing my reading with YOU! I have to admit my pace is a little slower this year but I figured that as my reading habit depends on my mood, I’ll just see where this takes me as I want to continue doing this as long as I can. Of course, feel free to give me a gentle kick up the backside if you think I tarry too long.

And as a big THANK YOU to you all for visiting chasing bawa, I’m giving away these:

A secondhand copy of Naomi by Junichiro Tanizaki which I picked up in my local charity shop. I read this a few years ago and loved it. It’s still in print but do you know how rare it is to find second hand? I just had to grab it for one of you!


I went to see Siri Hustvedt give a talk at the Southbank Centre this week and had to grab these two books which I got SIGNED.

I haven’t read them yet but I will soon. I know there’s a lot of love for her amongst her readers and listening to her speak, I can understand why. Her lecture was pretty intense, very intellectual (her interests lie not only in literature but psychology and phenomenology) and also touched upon issues such as the disparity between gender in what is supposed to be the level playing field of literature, something which always crops up in the media when it comes to prize time. Interesting indeed. She’s also a lovely, approachable person and I even had a brief conversation with her (a first for me!)

This giveaway is open internationally, so let me know which book you’d like (or all three) and I’ll pick a name out of a hat in a fortnight’s time.

In exchange, why don’t you tell me your favourite book so far this year? Go on, I’m curious.


Congratulations! Once I’ve received your address the book will be on its way!

Thank you everyone who commented and good luck next time. I do hope that you’ll get a chance to read Banana Yoshimoto’s The Lake regardless and look forward to seeing what you all think of it.

Thank you once again to Melville House Publishing for kindly sending me a copy to give away.

I was really excited to learn there was going to be a new English translation of a Banana Yoshimoto novel and doubly so when I received a copy to review. Kitchen and Goodbye, Tsugumi are two of the first novels I read in Japanese as a teen. I like Yoshimoto’s simple and sparse style. It isn’t over-complicated even though the themes she addressed were.

The Lake once again covers familiar grounds. It’s more about the inner life of people rather than the external, although in this novel, it has a huge bearing on the characters. Chihiro is a young artist who has lost her mother, who owned a bar, and is estranged from her father, a respected small town businessman. She has managed to escape from her town to study art and live in Tokyo. She soon begins to notice a tall, thin boy who lives in a flat across from hers. As their friendship blossoms into love, Chihiro realises that Nobu hides a childhood trauma that may break their fragile relationship.

It’s interesting how Yoshimoto always seems to focus on the shattered pieces of the past. Her characters are flawed and hurting but ultimately help each other. There is no perfect adult who hasn’t seen their share of pain. In this novel, Chihiro is not only running away from small town social conventions, but also the stigma of illegitimacy, even though her parents had a warm and loving relationship. Nobu, on the other hand, has experienced severe childhood trauma, and with echoes of the notorious Aum Shinrikyo cult, he is not only looking for someone to help him, but to also give him the confidence that he can function as a normal human being.

One of the things I always find interesting when reading Japanese novels is how the notion of freedom from social conventions for women always results in them being a ‘mama-san’ who owns a bar. In turn giving them financial freedom, it also stigmatises them as they work entertaining clients outside of normal working hours. In some ways I can see how this is exciting material for novelists as the notion of freedom starts to become a lot more complex. It also brings in the class division between the working class and the elite which is still prevalent in Japan today. Just a thought.

Ultimately, I felt this novel only skimmed the surface of what is a disturbing yet fascinating look into how people cope with complex issues. I really like Yoshimoto’s style which is clean and sparse and gently takes you along the journey, yet I also felt at the same time that it was too simple and lacked a certain beauty. I couldn’t really sympathise or understand Chihiro’s thoughts and the story seemed to ramble a little. In some ways, The Lake may have benefited with more editing, although I also wanted Yoshimoto to explore Chihiro and Nobu’s relationship more fully.

However, Yoshimoto does touch on some interesting points and The Lake also reminded me a little of Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood, although the latter felt more complete and discussed the themes more fully.

All in all, I found The Lake to be an easy read, and you do want to find out exactly what Nobu had gone through. But it did fall a little short of my expectations, which were extremely high. However, don’t let this put you off reading The Lake. There’s still something about the atmosphere Yoshimoto creates which will linger on long after you finish the last page and makes you want to explore more of her writing.

I read this as part of Dolce Bellezza’s Japanese Literature Challenge 5. Do also check out what Eva, lisa, Gavin and For Books’ Sake thought.

So, Melville House Publishing has kindly sent me a spare copy of The Lake to give away. If you would like a chance to win, please leave a comment and tell me which book divided your opinion but still would recommend to others and I will pick a winner (in some random manner) in a week’s time. Open worldwide.


Congratulations! I will post the books this weekend. Enjoy!

Thanks to everyone for your participation and comments. I found it difficult to pick a name out of my mug so I got my flatmate to do the honour this morning. Trying to keep it impartial as I wanted you all to win. There will be one more giveaway soon so keep your eyes peeled.

Terrible Twos

14 July, 2011

Not me, silly, but my blog. Yes, chasing bawa is TWO this year and I’m as shocked as you all that I’ve sustained my interest and enjoyment at this book blogging business. In fact, my interest hasn’t waned at all but has increased as I’ve made some wonderful friends and found some extremely well-written, funny and lovely blogs. The book blogging world is indeed a very genuine and warm one and I’m glad to be a part of it. So to celebrate I have a particularly brilliant giveaway, if I say so myself.

Feast your eyes on these:

Oh yes, it’s a Haruki Murakami twosome, kindly sent to me by my lovely friend Y all the way from Japan. One lucky winner will get a spanking new set of Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball 1973 in English. As most of you will probably know, these are the first two of Murakami’s books to be translated into English and start the Trilogy of the Rat which culminates with A Wild Sheep Chase and later Dance, Dance, Dance both of which are available internationally.

With these, you are in fine form to join In Spring It Is The Dawn‘s Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge to celebrate the English release of 1Q84 (I cannot wait for this!) and also Dolce Bellezza‘s Japanese Literature Challenge 5, if you haven’t already. I haven’t read my copies yet and will be doing so for the two challenges. Very exciting! And you can read an interesting piece on why Murakami is so popular here.

I’m sad to hear that Kodansha International is no longer in business and both books are increasingly difficult to get hold of (although they are available on Amazon Japan), so I’m offering this twosome as a big THANK YOU to all of you who stop by, read and comment on my blog. I like comments but I like lurkers too!

So tell me which book you are most looking forward to read this summer and I’ll pick a winner in the old fashioned way (names in a mug) in a week’s time. And I’ll send it anywhere too. Good luck everyone!

* Thank you all for participating but the giveaway is now closed. *

There was a staggering number of participants for Leeswammes’ Blog‘s Literary Giveaway Blog Hop. Thank you all for participating and I do hope that you will go out and try Romesh Gunesekara’s novels even if you didn’t win this time. I was tempted to go on, but decided that I liked drawing names the old-fashioned way (from my A Room of One’s Own Penguin mug no less).

And the winners are:



                                                                  Miss Lauren

Congratulations to both and e-mails have been sent!