Sunday, 25 January 2009

Garasu no Kamen, volume 43.

I can hardly believe it's true!
After more than 4 years since the publication of the controversial 42nd volume, tomorrow, January 26th 2009, volume 43 will be published in Japan.
I am more envious than ever of whoever is in Japan and/or of who can read Japanese.
I wrote to the Italian publishing house months ago, so I hope the manga will be translated into my language in no more than 3 months.

Will the story be the same as the one we read in the 4 issues of Hana to Yume or not?
I am dying to know. I guess I will pester some dear friends of mine to get the answers as soon as possible!!! :)
I so need to update my fan site with precious info! :)
Maya no Garasu no Kamen → Stay tuned! :)

Will Miuchi Sensei make us wait years before we can read the next tankoubon?
Unfortunately, nobody can answer this question. But well, let's enjoy this long-awaited volume 43.

Hakusensha Website

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Village of Stone - Xiaolu Guo

I am planning to republish a few book reviews from my old blog, and I will start with one of my very favourite books ever. This review means very much for me also because it was praised by an English tutor, in spite of the fact that she never liked me :)


Village of Stone, by Xiaolu Guo



"Village of Stone", by Xiaolu Guo

Coral is 28 years old. She lives with her boyfriend Red on the ground floor of a 25-storey block in Beijing. She works part-time in a video rental shop.
Her boyfriend is not doing much with his life, but he's financially helped by his parents. His only interest seems to be taking part and winning at Frisbee competitions.
The couple lives a quite squalid and monotonous life.
One day, Coral receives a packet. The sender's details are illegible, but it was sent from the Village of Stone, the poor small village of fishermen where she came from. It contains a giant dried eel.

This is the beginning of a long journey to a past which Coral wanted to forget, and of which not even Red is aware of.
Little by little, we learn about the lonely childhood of an unfortunate girl.
Her mother died after giving birth to her and her father fled from the village to escape the fishermen's life; he never came back, otherwise he would have been imprisoned for his bourgeois ideas.
She lived with her grandparents, who hated each other and never talked to each other, until one day her grandfather committed suicide.
This semi-abandoned creature became an easy prey for the devilish mute, who harassed and eventually raped her.
Later, she fell in love with the school teacher, Mr. Mou, who got her pregnant and forced her to abort. Someway the rumours spread, and Coral left and started a new life in Beijing...

We'll never find out who sent the eel. But its smell spread all over the building and its tasty flesh that feeds the two young people every day seem to suggest that Coral has still something that binds her to the Village of Stone.
Moreover, a man who claims to be her father visits her one morning, just to let her know that he's dying with throat cancer.
At the beginning, Coral thinks he's just a mad man or a maniac and she wants to forget about him. She's got something else to think about. She is pregnant, and she is going to have an abortion.
Unexpectedly, Red asks her to keep the baby and to get married.
Finally, both have something to cling to.

Coral is ready to start a new life, but before that she still has something to do. She manages to find the man who claimed to be her father and to spend with him the painful last few days of his life.
Then, she visits the Village of Stone with Red, and prays for the souls of her grandparents, and of all the dead people of the village, included the mute ("if there really is an afterlife, I hope that the mute will be reincarnated as a person with the power of speech, so that he can know how it feels to speak, to scream and to cry").

Red loses his Frisbee in the sea of the Village of Stone. In any case, the baby he wants to have changes him as it changed Coral. He eventually finds a job and the couple is ready to move to a new house.

I simply adore this book.

I love the perfect way it's written. I love the gloomy atmosphere. I love the presence of the sea everywhere: terrible cause of destruction and death but also source of food for all the villagers; you can hear the sound of its waves in the background, you can smell the brackish air everywhere; the same sea used to be Coral's only friend.

I love the sense of silence.
There was silence between Coral's grandparents.
The villagers hardly talked to Coral's grandmother, since she was a foreigner.
Coral's grandfather killed himself silently, without an explanation.
The mute himself was the most frightening and mischievous character.
Coral didn't have many people to talk to. Also, she never told anyone about the mute's harassment. Moreover, when she was kept prisoner in his house, a rug was stuffed into her mouth, to prevent her from shouting.
The mutes' parents saw what their son was doing, but they didn't say or do anything.
It's not written in the book, but in such a small village, I believe it's impossible that nobody saw what was happening. And still, nobody said anything.
Coral and the man who claimed to be her father couldn't talk to each other. He had his vocal cords removed.
In a way, silence brings the idea of death all around.
Coral's first baby, who had never been born, was not even allowed to cry.
But things have changed, and a new life will start soon.

I love the message of not forgetting about one's origins. Coral with her last visit to the Village of Stone forgave everyone, and forgave life. Finally she found peace.
I would like to quote the whole book, but let me just write part of the ending chapter, when Coral visits the cemetery of the Village of Stone.

"I feel a profound grief, as if my heart is filled with sorrow. It is a sorrow that emanates from these graves, these graves marked with names I know and names I will never know. I grieve for the dead. I have grown up, moved away from the village and become an adult woman. But none of the occupants of this cemetery will ever know this. I want to offer something to each of them, some sort of memorial, no matter how frightening or hateful hey were while alive. All that is left of their lives is this yellow earth, this ancient soil.
I stand in the cemetery on the far side of the mountain and weep. As the harsh ocean winds buffet my skin, I feel the tears down my face, falling to the parched, dry earth below.
On my last day in the village, I face in the direction of the mountain cemetery, kneel down and touch my head to the ground. There, buried in the shadow of the Temple of the Sea Goddess, on that hillside looking out to the sea, are the souls who will live on for ever in my heart."


Excellent book. One of the very best novels I've ever read!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

I didn't resist too much, did I?

Ladies and gents,

I am back already.
How much you missed me, huh? :)

I am still working at this blog, but I hope it won't take me too much.
I should have been finished today, but I am falling asleep.
The Italian private blog will follow... How exciting!

The most stunning piece of news is that I dramatically reduced the time I spend on Facebook and I couldn't care less!! Something to be proud of :)

*Peace and love*

Francesca, listening to (and adoring) Hayley Westenra, Belle and Sebastian, Muse.