Title: The Gods of Heavenly Punishment
Author: Jennifer Cody Epstein
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
Rating: 5 Stars
A lush, exquisitely rendered meditation on war, The Gods 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 this evocative and thrilling epic novel, fifteen-year-old Yoshi Kobayashi, child of Japan’s New Empire, daughter of an ardent expansionist and a mother with a haunting past, is on her way home on a March night when American bombers shower her city with napalm—an attack that leaves one hundred thousand dead within hours and half the city in ashen ruins. In the days that follow, Yoshi’s old life will blur beyond recognition, leading her to a new world marked by destruction and shaped by those considered the enemy: Cam, a downed bomber pi.lot taken prisoner by the Imperial Japanese Army; Anton, a gifted architect who helped modernize Tokyo’s prewar skyline but is now charged with destroying it; and Billy, an Occupation soldier who arrives in the blackened city with a dark secret of his own. Directly or indirectly, each will shape Yoshi’s journey as she seeks safety, love, and redemption. -Goodreads
The Gods of Heavenly Punishment is a sumptuous feast for the mind of any reader. Full to the brim with sights, sounds, and experiences so personal to each character that readers can see, feel, and touch the book's world through them.
In all of my literary experience, there have been a scant few books that have appealed to all aspects of my reading experience in such a complete way.
There is never a moment throughout the course of this story, where one is at a loss for that magical thread that weaves the story into the intricately interwoven tableau of lives that play out so vividly within it's pages.
When reading this book, one will be pleased to find that the stories bear no slant favoring one culture over another.
Both the good and bad of all people and situations is allowed to play out naturally.
This book is a literary gem that should grace the shelves of any collection.
I am an unrepentant book addict and the author of The Gods of Heavenly Punishment, as well as the international bestseller The Painter from Shanghai. I have also written for The Wall Street Journal, The Asian Wall Street Journal, The Nation (Thailand), Self and Mademoiselle magazines, and the NBC and HBO networks, working in Kyoto, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Bangkok as well as Washington D.C. and New York. I’ve taught at Columbia University in New York and Doshisha University in Kyoto, and have an MFA from Columbia, a Masters of International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and a BA in Asian Studies/English from Amherst College. I currently live in Brooklyn, NY with my husband, filmmaker Michael Epstein, my two amazing daughters and an exceptionally needy Springer Spaniel.