Autumn is for reading – Samurai Awakening

Samurai AwakeningIn Japan they say ‘autumn is for sports, autumn is for eating, autumn is for reading’. I’ve done a few posts on sports already and eating is a perennial favourite so I’m going to go for reading and suggest some books you might try. I’ve chosen three; they’re all newly published (in fact the first one is published today), they’re all by foreigners who are living or have lived in Japan and they’re all first books. Those are the similarities – the books themselves are as different as it’s possible to be.

First up is young adult paranormal fantasy Samurai Awakening by Ben Martin. It reached the semi-final in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition, it’s got four stars on Amazon from eight reviews so far and it’s published by Tuttle who are a very well respected publisher of Japan-related books.

The story is about an American teenager who moves to Japan where he stays with a family of famous sword-makers who are the keepers of an ancient secret. Before you know it he is possessed by an ancient god, can turn himself into a tiger and has to fight with demons and ghosts to save his girl and Japan from a terrible fate.

Samurai Awakening coverBen is an interesting guy. A graduate of the University of Arizona, he joined the Jet programme after studying Japanese history and culture under Gail Bernstein at university and was sent to Okinawa.

Ben MartinOkinawa is a tropical paradise made up of hundreds of islands called the Ryukyu islands in a chain over six hundred miles long stretching from Kyushu in the south of Japan to Taiwan. They contain some of the most abundant coral reefs in the world and the temperature hardly ever falls below 20 degrees. Ben spent his first three years on Kitadaito, a small island 320 kilometres east of Okinawa with a population of 550 people where he experienced a unique combination of mainland Japanese and Okinawan culture, learned about Okinawan and Japanese Sumo, began taking photographs and started his blog, More Things Japanese. This photo of the Kitadaito Festival is a recent one from his blog.

Kitadaito FestivalHe has now moved to Kumejima, one of the islands that make up Okinawa, where he has a weekly radio programme on FM Kumejima.

Samurai Awakening has a thorough grounding in his personal experience of Okinawa and his study of its traditions and legends. Tuttle have picked up the sequel as well, which will be out in Autumn next year. You can get Samurai Awakening on Amazon.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting about the second of my three books so stay tuned.

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