Review: Chorus of Mushrooms — Hiromi Goto

Read: 89
To Go: 11

Book List
81. The Next Always — Nora Roberts
82. The Single Girl’s To-Do List — Lindsey Kelk
83. The Heart of Devin MacKade — Nora Roberts
84. The Fall of Shane MacKade — Nora Roberts
85. One on One — Peter Mansbridge
86. Girls in White Dresses — Jennifer Close
87. American Born Chinese — Gene Luen Yang
88. Lady Gaga: Critical Mass Fashion — Lizzy Goodman
89. Chorus of Mushrooms — Hiromi Goto

Chorus of Mushrooms explores the collision of cultures within a family between three generations of Japanese Canadian women. At times a Japanese folk legend, at times a love story, Chorus of Mushrooms heralds a major debut in Canadian literature.

Told you it’d be the old bait and switch: Hiromi Goto got my attention faster than Charles Dickens did. Couldn’t be helped, really.

I managed to get through this in about six hours total (all during work hours, what does that say about my productivity there? Haha), and it was really, really great. It’s one of those books where I don’t know what to say about it, exactly, but I just know that I liked it.

I both enjoyed and was challenged by the way the plot was presented: flipping between Muriel in the present, with her boyfriend; and Muriel and her grandmother in the past, which is the story she tells her boyfriend. It sounds confusing (which is was), but it was also a good way of telling a complicated story. I also liked (but was saddened by) how Goto showed the challenge competing cultures plays on an immigrant family. And I don’t just mean the racism outside of the family; but the differences that came between a mother and her daughter because of one’s willingness to give up her entire history and culture in favour of fitting in with a new one.

Definitely give Chorus of Mushrooms a read. It was one of those books that pleasantly surprised me.

Next book: Half-Blood Blues — Esi Edugyan (I figured it’d be appropriate to include this year’s Giller Prize winner on my list. Unfortunately I’ll have to skip over the Governor General’s Award winner, The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt, because I won’t have room for it. Maybe next year for that one.)

– Kelsey


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