[Book Review No.1] Sakhalin: The Island of Unspoken Struggles

I’ve never posted a book review here until now, but I couldn’t resist as “Sakhalin: The Island of Unspoken Struggles” by Kristine Ohkubo has become one of the most influential books in my life for the reasons I’m about to write!

First of all, here’s the review that I posted on the author’s Goodreads page:

“Sakhalin” is an unparalleled account of the people who became the victims of the power struggles over this resource-rich island in the Far East. The history of Sakhalin is little known even to Japanese, including myself, although a part of the island was once colonised by Japan and the Japanese settlers themselves eventually became the victims at the end of World War II. Thoroughly researched, Kristine Ohkubo’s intelligible writing reveals the island’s complex history that involved the world powers such as the Mongols, China, Russia, and Japan. However, the real beauty of this book is that Ohkubo has given voice to the Karafuto Koreans, Ainu, Uilta, and Nivkh. Even though this book’s subtitle is “the Island of Unspoken Struggles”, their struggles have now been spoken.

As you can see, two of the main reasons why this book really spoke to my heart were:

  1. It explains a complex subject that has not been discussed openly and widely in her clear, accessible writing.
  2. It gives voice to the forgotten minorities: the Karafuto Koreans, Ainu, Uilta, and Nivkh.

But another big reason for my attraction to this book is that…

the foreword for this book was written by my very own rakugo master, Kanariya Eiraku (Tatsuya Sudo is his real name)!

Here is how this came true (insider information ahead) 😁

The author, who happens to be a rakugo fan, went to my master’s rakugo performance in LA.

She told him about the book in the process of writing and found out that Eiraku’s father was from Sakhalin!

Therefore, this collaboration came true.

What was the chance of that to happen!

I learned about his connection to Sakhalin and his Ainu uncle through this book, which I had not known even as his student.

For these reasons, I can very confidently recommend this book to you!

Find out more about the book on the author’s website! She has great online presence, so you can find her SNS on most major platforms 😃

You can purchase her books on Book Depository and other retailers.