Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: March 2013
Categories: WWII, Historical Fiction, Japan
A lush, exquisitely-rendered meditation on war,The God of Heavenly Punishment tells the story of several families, American and Japanese, their loves and infidelities, their dreams and losses, and how they are all connected by one of the most devastating acts of war in human history.
In 1935, Yoshi Kobayashi is the six-year-old daughter of a sophisticated, iconoclastic mother and an unread, nationalistic father. Years later, as a teen in Manchuria, she witnesses, first-hand, the harsh realities Japan’s expansionist dreams—even as she discovers the first blush of love. During the worst days of the war in Tokyo, Yoshi balances school work with ration lines—even while caring for her mother whose rebellious spirit has been brutally broken by the men who wage war. Then, one March night, Yoshi’s world is finally consumed by flame when hundreds of American B-29’s scorch the night sky, showering napalm down upon her city. Left alone among the ruins, Yoshi’s fate will now depend on her will to live and the unlikely intersections with three men whom she’d have once considered “enemies”: a downed American bomber pilot, a Hungarian-born architect, and an Occupying Forces intelligence officer with his own damning secret.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Learning new things is my favorite part about reading. This book opened my eyes to the events in Japan both before and after WWII. The Gods of Heavenly Punishment is told from the point of view of a young Japanese girl, certainly like nothing I’ve read before.
The characters lives are interconnected in interesting, yet plausible, ways. The men and women that people this story are convincing and genuine. Days after reading this I can’t stop thinking of them.
This book offers an unflinching look at the horrors of war. You’ll find yourself holding your breath during the firebombing of Tokyo. Cody Epstein doesn’t focus on the atrocities as much as on the relationships between people devastated by the events.
Ambitious and breathtaking, The Gods of Heavenly Punishment is not to be missed.
Jennifer Cody Epstein is the author of The Gods of Heavenly Punishment and the international bestseller The Painter from Shanghai. She has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Asian Wall Street Journal, Self, Mademoiselle and NBC, and has worked in Hong Kong, Japan and Bangkok, Thailand.
Jennifer lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, two daughters and especially needy Springer Spaniel.
To connect with Jennifer, “like” her on Facebook.
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