As I turned the first page of Native Speaker by Chang-Rae Lee this morning, I returned to my usual reading exercise after a month of frivolous perusal of mysteries, legal thrillers and crime fiction. A month and ten books later, I’m back in the fold of literary fiction and books that usually cannot be read in a single sitting. They require a degree of reflection and meditation. I brought with me, to Thailand, a bunch of crime thrillers by Scott Turow and Thomas Harris. In Thailand (and Asia in general), bookstores would separate the popular fiction from high-brow literature. Literature is usually in UK paperback edition. Browsing is almost just as fun as reading. It’s always fun and interesting to compare what is trending there and back home. In addition to Native Speaker, I brought back The Year After by Martin Davies (never heard of this author until I saw the book at Asia Books in Bangkok), The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis, The Lighthouse by Alison Moore (been looking for this one), In the Springtime of the Year by Susan Hill, and The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif.
Back in San Francisco, I was very surprised and somewhat disappointed that customs didn’t ask to open my luggage because I want to see their reaction to a spinner full of books. Asian travelers are usually profiled because they are notorious for bringing fruits and meat jerky back without declaring. Oh well I guessI don’t look like I’m fresh-off-the-boat ethnic.