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English books set in Japan/China for NEA English Literature A-Level

Hi all,

For my courework I have to compare The Road by Cormac McCathy to a book of my choice. I'd like to do a book set in Japan or China as they are generally my special interest at the moment and I'd have a lot to say, but the book's first language has to be in English. IT CANNOT BE A TRANSLATED BOOK. The themes should be mostly around masculinity, fatherhood, humanity and violence (dystopian and gothic often work well too)
If you have any suggestions for me I'd massively appreciate it because I'm struggling to find anything.
(edited 8 months ago)
Original post by khaotic
Hi all,

For my courework I have to compare The Road by Cormac McCathy to a book of my choice. I'd like to do a book set in Japan or China as they are generally my special interest at the moment and I'd have a lot to say, but the book's first language has to be in English. IT CANNOT BE A TRANSLATED BOOK. The themes should be mostly around masculinity, fatherhood, humanity and violence (dystopian and gothic often work well too)
If you have any suggestions for me I'd massively appreciate it because I'm struggling to find anything.

An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro comes to mind! It's about a man's experience as an artist in World War II Japan, as well as the legacy of that, especially as a father and grandfather... to say much else would be a spoiler I think! (He also has two more books set in/around Japan, but they're more about motherhood)
Reply 2
Ghost stories were collected way back by Lafcadio Hearn.The Japanese story the 47 Ronins I think is an old tale retold many times, also by some early folklorist people, Robert van Bergen etc. Also check Yei Theodora Ozaki (1871 - 1932)
Robert van Gulik wrote judge dee stories, many original, and some include ghostly elements. Laurens van der Post wwii story Mr Christmas mr lawrence. Empire of the sun by J. G. Ballard

Jack London wrote yellow peril catastrophes :smile:
Nowland's Buck Rogers is about how the airlords of han conquer the world in 200 years.
Then there are the fu manchu stories, also yellow peril stories. Li shoon another similar yellow peril villain. Some of this yellow perl stuff is actually linked to defeats in the shamefull opium wars, and a celebration of what john cleese in the meaning of life termed "all those who died so valiantly to keep China British".Then there was the boxer rebellion.Even Edgar Wallace would introduce these devious chinese villains in some novels.

Later Heinlein (one of the major scifi writers) conjured up this paranoia during WWII about invasion by "pan-asians".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sixth_Column

There you might try amy tan or Alice Tisdale Hobart
(edited 8 months ago)
Original post by michaelhw
Ghost stories were collected way back by Lafcadio Hearn.The Japanese story the 47 Ronins I think is an old tale retold many times, also by some early folklorist people, Robert van Bergen etc. Also check Yei Theodora Ozaki (1871 - 1932)
Robert van Gulik wrote judge dee stories, many original, and some include ghostly elements. Laurens van der Post wwii story Mr Christmas mr lawrence. Empire of the sun by J. G. Ballard

Jack London wrote yellow peril catastrophes :smile:
Nowland's Buck Rogers is about how the airlords of han conquer the world in 200 years.
Then there are the fu manchu stories, also yellow peril stories. Li shoon another similar yellow peril villain. Some of this yellow perl stuff is actually linked to defeats in the shamefull opium wars, and a celebration of what john cleese in the meaning of life termed "all those who died so valiantly to keep China British".Then there was the boxer rebellion.Even Edgar Wallace would introduce these devious chinese villains in some novels.

Later Heinlein (one of the major scifi writers) conjured up this paranoia during WWII about invasion by "pan-asians".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sixth_Column

There you might try amy tan or Alice Tisdale Hobart


This is a brilliant list, with some great stuff on there! :biggrin:
Reply 4
Original post by Castrovalva
This is a brilliant list, with some great stuff on there! :biggrin:


I left out James Clavel, and his nobel house epics, but i am not sure if they would fit against a book such as The Road? If you can find a novel set during the Nanjing massacre or Hiroshima, or perhaps something like Pierre Boulle's The Bridge on the River Kwai (he was french, sadly), you could contrast the samurai macho men against the sadness. You can use one of the WWII novels i reccomended for this.

But the historical significance of nanjing and hiroshima was huge in asia. And you would also get that unworldly feel. You could also tone it down, and use something very quiet to contrast the road, the quiet tea drinking old man in his rose garden with his grand child etc. You already have violence in The Road, you may not need a second violent book? Anyway you must decide

The japanese are perfect for any discussion on masculinity because they are the most polite and well behaved people on earth. At the same time, they are culturally completely perverse, and almost endorse child pornography and then there is the bushido violence. And this strange code of honor, combined with the horror of something like nanjing. So all the elements of masculinity will be very clear.

"Granpa, I did not steal the pen, but for the sake of the shame i brought upon my family, I will commit harakiri at dawn. I bid you good evening, and also reccommend the plum pudding. " etc
(edited 8 months ago)
Reply 5
Original post by michaelhw
I left out James Clavel, and his nobel house epics, but i am not sure if they would fit against a book such as The Road? If you can find a novel set during the Nanjing massacre or Hiroshima, or perhaps something like Pierre Boulle's The Bridge on the River Kwai (he was french, sadly), you could contrast the samurai macho men against the sadness. You can use one of the WWII novels i reccomended for this.

But the historical significance of nanjing and hiroshima was huge in asia. And you would also get that unworldly feel. You could also tone it down, and use something very quiet to contrast the road, the quiet tea drinking old man in his rose garden with his grand child etc. You already have violence in The Road, you may not need a second violent book? Anyway you must decide

The japanese are perfect for any discussion on masculinity because they are the most polite and well behaved people on earth. At the same time, they are culturally completely perverse, and almost endorse child pornography and then there is the bushido violence. And this strange code of honor, combined with the horror of something like nanjing. So all the elements of masculinity will be very clear.

"Granpa, I did not steal the pen, but for the sake of the shame i brought upon my family, I will commit harakiri at dawn. I bid you good evening, and also reccommend the plum pudding. " etc

What I am suggesting has actually already been done. Clint Eastwood did it all in his western The Unforgiven (1992), when he baically made a rebuttal to the Leone movie that made him famous, which was based on a Kurosawa script.

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