“Workplace Novels” Top the Bestsellers’ List in China

“Workplace Novels” Top the Bestsellers’ List in China

If any of you has ever read a business book, you probably know it’s the most boring fucking thing ever. Once at my job they made everyone read this book on customer service by a guy who worked at Nordstrom’s, and I doubt anyone else got through the entire thing (I most certainly did not). The problem with business books is that there are no interesting characters, no major interpersonal conflict, and no sex. Well, our novelist friends in China have solved that annoying problem by combining business tips with torrid love affairs and lots of office espiaage and in-fighting: introducing WORKPLACE NOVELS! One of the most popular books chronicles a secretary’s rise to power and tyranny as an HR manager. And if you don’t like to read, there is also a TV series and a movie. If you do like to read, you’re in luck, as there are three sequels (I guess she claws and bites her way up to CEO?). There are also novels exposing shady banking practices and one intriguingly titled The Confession of a Beautiful Female Department Head in Prison. So if you’re a middle-class Chinese office worker trying to navigate the shark-infested waters of company politics, and you hate boring business books, this is your perfect thing. As for me…I’m a stay-at-home mom, so fuck...
Off-Topic: Ray Bradbury Dead at 91

Off-Topic: Ray Bradbury Dead at 91

In a way, Ray Bradbury invented writing for me. I was 8 or 9, and I had always loved to read. But it wasn’t until I picked up a book of Bradbury stories at the library that I realized a wonderful thing: words can weave magic spells. And this man, this man who was so full of joy and wonder that it spilled into every page of his work, even the sad parts, liked the same things I did: space, aliens, dinosaurs, Moby Dick. Maybe I could write stories too, I thought. And here I am. About 15 years ago I had the honor of meeting Bradbury at Dragon*con. Fahrenheit 451 had just been re-released into a beautiful hardcover edition. I was 18 and poor, so I had brought my battered, definitely-not-first edition paperback of my favorite Bradbury novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes. After hours in line, I finally shuffled up to my literary god, shaking all the way. I handed him my poor book and said, “Sorry I don’t have a better copy for you to sign.” He smiled and replied, “I like seeing books like this, because it means it’s been read and loved.” I didn’t hear anything anyone said to me for the rest of the day. Bradbury signed my book in permanent marker, RAY BRADBURY!. Exclamation point and all. And I think he lived his life with exclamation points, with eagerness always to see what’s next while not forgetting what lay behind. My husband called me today to tell me the news. I was at the museum with my kid, so I didn’t cry....
North Korea: Not Just Fun and Games

North Korea: Not Just Fun and Games

Another NPR find… So, I like to make fun of the contained (for now) insanity that is North Korea as much as the next girl. It’s too surreal to believe most of the time, so what else can we do? Until you hear something like this, and realize that North Korea really is a hellish place and people there are suffering terribly. Escape from Camp 14 This is an interview with an author who wrote a book about a man who was born in a North Korean labor camp. Here’s a hint: he turned in his mother and brother when he heard they were planning to escape (and had to watch them be executed) not because he hated them or was afraid for his own safety, but because he didn’t understand that mothers and sons are supposed to love and protect each other. It’s pretty harsh stuff, so listen at your own risk.    ...

Ha Jin Interview

Yesterday I was listening to NPR (as you do) when I heard Diane Rehm rasping out something about the Rape of Nanking. I told my kid to go run in circles until he fell down (he thinks it’s fun) so I could listen. She was interviewing Ha Jin, one of my favorite authors, about his newest novel, Nanjing Requiem. He doesn’t talk much about his writing process (except how he had to rewrite the entire book- it took him two years- because the first POV he used didn’t work) but he does talk a lot about Nanking. Interview This link goes to the transcript but if you have an hour to spare you might prefer listening to the interview. It’s rare but in this case the spoken word makes more sense than the written...
‘Japan Sinks’ author Sakyo Komatsu dead at 80

‘Japan Sinks’ author Sakyo Komatsu dead at 80

Sakyo Komatsu, the science-fiction author responsible for the 1973 novel Japan Sinks (and inadvertently responsible for the resulting parody film The World Sinks Except Japan – which our very own AnaKhouri reviewed here…) has died at 80, from pneumonia. Komatsu also wrote the novel which served as the basis for the 1980 post-apocalyptic film Virus. Komatsu was also an accomplished screenwriter, with a number of television and film credits under his belt. Komatsu has been referred to as the ‘King of Japanese Science Fiction. Sci-fi Pioneer Komatsu Dies at 80 (Japan...

Off-Topic: AnaKhouri Rocks

So, yeah. I have a new story published in the e-zine Moon-Drenched Fables. It doesn’t have anything to do with Asian culture; this time it’s Greek mythology. If you click on the “Best of Issue” button you can vote for it as the best story of the issue; only if you really read and like it, though! I don’t accept charity. ^_^ Read It and...