Fiction 2000


We spent the first three months of the year in China and Vietnam. Then a few months in England and after that it was back to China and Hong Kong for the rest of the year, except for the two weeks we spent in Thailand in Nov-Dec. This list of books is far from complete, but is all we can remember after the fact.
  Memoirs of a Geisha
  A Small Town Called Hibiscus
  Sister Carrie
Biography, History, & Politics
   My Life as an Explorer
  The Travels of Marco Polo

Travel Guides

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Read in Hong Kong, this best-selling book brought back many good memories of Japan and was to Jan quite a wonderful book.

Highly recommended.

A Small Town Called Hibiscus  by Gu Hua

We bought this book in Beijing in the Foreign Languages Bookstore. Like all government-sanctioned literature it exists only because it serves a propaganda function for the current communist government in that it condemns through its story line the economic policy of the early communist years. Even in translation, we found it warm and humorous and very educational.

L’Espoir by André Malraux

This book tells in novel form the story of the Spanish civil war waged in 1935-36 by the Franquist forces and the communist/socialist coalition. The story is quite a gripping and bloody adventure. Read as part of Jan's ongoing campaign to keep up her French language skills and fill in some egregious gaps in her knowledge of French literature, she found this extremely hard going, but in the end very satisfying.

The biggest problem was that the book had a great deal of technical vocabulary related to arms and ammunition and other war materiel and she didn't have a dictionary!  It took her almost a year, but eventually she bought and installed the Oxford-Harraps English-French, French-English dictionary on her computer so that she would never be in the same predicament again.

Recommended, if you read French and have a dictionary! 

Sister Carrie  by Theodore Dreiser

An easy read and again a little bit of a surprise as at first it seemed as though it would be another story of country girl goes to big city and is debauched. Sister Carrie, on the other hand, repeatedly falls on her feet, including becoming a feted actress. The moral of the story, if there is one, is that even when successful one can be lonely and that even if successful, one careless act can bring one down.

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