Fifteen years in Ireland and despite my many efforts and attempts I never been able to join a book club.The problem with this country is that the book clubs are either an excuse to drink wine in a different house every month or,the real ones,are impenetrable lobbies. Exclusive clubs where only few very selected elements are admitted. Rules of admission are strict and unbreakable:once you succeed the initiation test,you then have to provided an impeccable family background and the prove that your are a direct descendant of some previous or current member.
That is why when my two bloggers friends Viola Bleau(IdeaBecomesWords)and Joseph Beeech(flowersinbloomnothingtoaddteatime)suggested to create our own book club, I immediately jumped in.
“The Samurai’s Garden” is the first book this little cyber book club decided to read on Joseph’s suggestion.
I am grateful for the choice and the chance to discover this excellent american writer :Gail Tsukiyama. My only experience with Japanese literature was limited to the books of Banana Yoshimoto that I used to be very fond of in my previous youth and to “Memoirs of a Geisha”,a book that I loved.While,Banana Yoshimoto is miles away in time and space, Arthur Golden and Gail Tsukiyama describe a very similar social,political and cultural reality.
The story starts at the eve of WWII .The young Stephen, son of a Chinese mother and a Japanese father,(exactly like the author),is sent to recover from tuberculosis in Japan where the father lives for business related reasons,while the rest of the family is in Hong Kong.Stephen will stay at the family beach house where the loyal Matsu will take care of him along with the house garden that has soon become his garden. Matsu is a samurai in the soul and his garden is its mirror.Reluctantly Matsu open his heart to Stephen and let him in in his private life that evolves around Sachi,his loved one afflicted by leprosy. Stephen starts to leave his emotional shell thanks to Matsu and Sachi and also starts to explore the the unknown world of female friendships. As more the garden take shapes and as more Stephen’s soul and mind take shape.A new vision of the world and human nature is forming in front of him.A new reality that doesn’t spare not even his own parents.
The writing is light and the words flow captivating in their simplicity. Since the beginning the modernity of the father and in his will to follow western world is openly highlighted.The difference from two cultures,Chinese and Japanese,is briefly and clearly exposed but,delicately penned down.
Chapter two is waiting and whoever wants to join is welcome.