The horrendous atrocities of war and the delicate strength of the human spirit are all wrapped up in this novel about the firebombing of Tokyo during World War II. THE GODS OF HEAVENLY PUNISHMENT is a work of art and beauty and I will read it again to ease the tensions which continue to cross my mind and disrupt my awareness.
“I dare you to read this and not be swept up. THE GODS OF HEAVENLY PUNISHMENT is shocking and delicate in equal measure.” Debra Dean, author, of THE MADONNAS Of LENINGRAD (on the book jacket)
This is the story of Yoshi and how war and a host of people will direct her experience of war and lead to her survival. She is the daughter of a Japanese builder who has worked with an Architect to change the skyline of Tokyo (Yep! Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel is part of the story) and her mother who is the granddaughter of a Samurai Warrior who has a troubled past; she speaks many languages fluently. It is the story of the architect who builds the new vision, then works on its destruction and how he knows Yoshi. It is the story of Cam a fighter pilot who has wanted to fly an airplane his whole life; he is one of the downed pilots after an initial bombing raid. On this list of Yoshi’s journey, I must include Billy who was born in Japan and returns as an occupation soldier for the rebuilding process.
I do not read the book covers or the promo pages that come with the tour book I agree to review. I find that those words often color the read for me and I think they often tell far too much of the story line and cancel my minds ability to imagine and discover. I quite often read each book twice, as I did for THE GODS OF HEAVENLY PUNISHMENT. The second read looks through eyes of what research the author acknowledges and the personal notes on hopes and expectations for the book and thanks to the editors and publishers. This novel was extensively researched and then rendered with a divine stroke of the pen to give the reader a crystal understanding faceted with elegance and grace. The book jacket uses the word meditation to describe this story telling and I would have to agree.
All the shocking horror of war and that experience is right there and in one page you know it, and by the next page the reader is moving on and integrating the disgust and shock into the child’s growth and understanding. How could we ever have another war? This story does not leave the mind; it stays put.
“Jennifer Cody Epstein depicts the firebombing of Tokyo and concurrent events in unflinching but delicately rendered detail. Immaculately researched and deeply imagined, this is an astonishing novel whose battles and intimate encounters alike carry the force of electric jolt. I have never read anything else like it.” Angel Davis-Gardner, author of BUTTERFLY”S CHILD (book jacket)
If you only read one book in 2013 make sure it is THE GODS OF HEAVENLY PUNISHMENT