Monday, July 21, 2008

Reflections on the Asia Interest Section

I read Comfort Woman by Nora Okja Keller. It was inspired by my trip to Sharing House, which is a museum and home for Korean women who were sexual slaves of the Japanese Army during the Second World War. I found the book a bit of a disappointment - I had been looking in What the Book in Seoul for a historical book about the issue, but when I looked in the Asia Interest section, there wasn't a single book about comfort women. There were, however, any number of books about Japanese geishas, which seems a pointed statement to me - authors would rather fetishize Asian women and their sex lives rather than look at the shocking realities of women's lives in Asia in the recent past. The novel wasn't badly written at all, it just concentrated more on the mother's shamanistic religious practices, rather than her experience during the war, and I didn't particularly find the descriptions of shamanism all that interesting. Keller has written another novel about Korea though, and I'd like to read it.

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