Beside a Burning Sea by John Shors

Posted: under Reviews.
Tags: , , June 29th, 2009

by Kelly

by Kelly

This book, Beside a Burning Sea, was recommended by Carol Ann, one of our guest haiku’ers from the month of June.

According to Carol Ann, her interest in haiku began after reading this novel by author John Shors. Hearing that prompted me to go and seek it out at my local library.

The book is a World-War-II era tale that takes place in the South Pacific. An American hospital ship, which is supposed to be given free passage because of its Red-Cross mission, gets struck by a Japanese torpedo. Nine people manage to escape from the sinking ship and swim to the nearest land, an uninhabited tropical island.

There is a bad guy among the survivors. He’s an American-turned-Japanese spy who must try and keep his double-agent ways a secret. Throughout the book, his evil ideas give readers the chills.

To balance that plot line, there is also a love story going on. The love story plays out between Annie, an American nurse, and a wounded Japanese soldier who also made it off the ship.

Akira, the Japanese solider, must convince his fellow castaways, who are all Americans, that he means them no harm. He is sick of war and wants nothing more than to be done with violence. He dreams of returning to his life before the war when he was a professor of English and literature at a school in Japan. One of Akira’s main coping mechanisms for dealing with the troublesome situation around him is to retreat into his mind and compose haiku. As a part of the love story, Akira teaches Annie how to write haiku.

Every chapter begins with a haiku from Akira’s point of view. Along the way, Annie and he share some haiku they’ve composed for one another.

Beyond that, though, the book doesn’t focus on the art of haiku. The ins-and-outs of haiku’s long history are not covered here. Instead, haiku is a small unifying theme for the two characters falling in love. It is an intimate something that they share between the two of them.

Even though this book isn’t all about haiku, the fact that haiku plays a role at all in the plot of a 400-page WWII novel, I thought, warranted a review here on Haiku By Two.

And besides, it was a good read, one I thoroughly — and quickly — enjoyed.

If you’re looking for a good summer read, a good airplane read, or a good book club recommendation, pick up a copy of Beside a Burning Sea. And who knows? Like our guest haiku’er Carol Ann, you just might find yourself newly smitten with haiku.

Check out the Beyond the Burning Sea web site.

Or find it on Amazon: Beside a Burning Sea



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1 Comment »

  • 1

    […] that the novel I summarized have something to do with haiku. So here in my haiku summarizing Beside a Burning Sea by John Shors (follow the link for a review of the book detailing its haiku […]

    Pingback by Review: Haiku U by David M. Bader — August 29, 2011 @ 3:02 am

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