“I believe it doesn't matter what it is, as long as you can find something concrete to keep you busy while you are living your meaningless life.”
Something that I actively seek out in a novel these days is a gorgeous combination of genres that provokes a new and original slant on the story at hand. This is such a novel. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and while I'm currently reading the winner, so I can't say definitively, I think maybe Ruth Ozeki might have been robbed.
There is so much drama going on, a story within a story, a journal discovered after a tsunami and the possibility that its author might have killed herself. All these mysteries will have you turning the pages post haste.
Beautifully constructed, this is a perfect exemplar of modern literature. The writing is particularly dense - i.e. a lot happens. Nao's scenes of school bullying really hit a nerve for someone who went through some similar, but not quite as bad ( although time heels all wounds) occurrences.
The cultural divergence that Nao experiences having grown up in the US then returned to Japan really stress that sense of otherness that marks her as a victim as a child.
5 out of 5, hello kitty lunch boxes found on the beach should be cracked open.