THE GODS OF HEAVENLY PUNISHMENT
JENNIFER CODY EPSTEIN
about the book:
Publication Date: March 11, 2013
W.W. Norton & Company
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 pilot 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.
This is a multi layered book. As the reader, I found myself both liking and hating many of the characters. All are interwoven in an epic story. The book takes place during WWII. I loved and hated the Japanese, and I loved and hated the Americans. Who was right? Who was wrong? I loved the character of Yoshi, felt pity for her mother and absolutely hated her father. I almost cried when Cam's plane crashed in Japanese territory. One character justifies his actions by convincing himself "It's not murder. It's war." Reminds me of the saying "War is Hell." My dad once told me-"War is war and hell is hell. No one deserves war, everyone in hell deserves to be there."
War is never pretty. This is a depressing story, but uplifting at the same time. Confused yet? You won't be. The author is able to merge all the characters together in short connected stories.
This is a very well written, well orchestrated novel. At times, difficult to read. It took me a while to finish this book. My knowledge of WWII is from history books and old movies. I can't imagine how horrible it was.
About the Author
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. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, two daughters and especially needy Springer Spaniel.
For more information, please visit www.jennifercodyepstein.com.
Praise for The Gods of Heavenly Punishment
“…The book reveals itself to be as miraculously constructed as Frank Lloyd Wright's Imperial Hotel in Tokyo (which itself is a character). The Gods of Heavenly Punishment is a page-turner thanks to its high-stakes adventure, torrid love affairs and characters so real they seem to follow you around. And in the end, this gripping novel asks us not just to consider a lost chapter of a famous war but also to explore what it means to be lucky—and what it means to be loved. (Amy Shearn, O magazine)
"The Gods of Heavenly Punishment showcases war’s bitter ironies...as well as its romantic serendipities." (Megan O’Grady, Vogue)
"With stunning clarity, Epstein has re-created Tokyo both before and after the bombing in a novel that raises still-unanswered questions about the horrors of war, the cruelty associated with it and the lasting impression it can make on a person, a people or a place." (Shelf-Awareness.com)
“An epic novel about a young Japanese girl during World War II underscores the far-reaching impact that the decisions of others can have.” (Kirkus Reviews)
"Epstein’s second novel (after The Painter from Shanghai) is bursting with characters and locales. Yet painful, authentic (Epstein has lived and worked in Asia), and exquisite portraits emerge of the personal impact of national conflicts—and how sometimes those conflicts can be bridged by human connections." (Publishers Weekly)
“Sweeping….[A] harrowing novel of destruction and creation that will appeal to fans of historical fiction” (Library Journal—starred review)