Shonanto no Ramen and Chang’an: Two books by Wena Poon

Sutajio Wena, 2016

Ramen, also known as chukka soba (Chinese noodles), originated in China and spread to Japan in the 1880’s. Japanese troops returning from colonial Manchuria further popularized this dish. This short story, written in English and Chinese (simple script) for English-speaking students of the Chinese language, is set during the last days of the Second World War, when a Japanese military officer rediscovers his memories associated with ramen on the streets of Occupied Singapore. Illustrated with black and white photographs of Japan and Singapore. Features a photo gallery, with explanations, of noodle dishes in Japan, China, Singapore, Hong Kong and America. Includes a study guide for students. (Publisher’s description)

When Japan surrendered to the Allies at the end of WWII, more than 6 million of their citizens were left stranded abroad. In China alone there were 2.6 million Japanese, despised by the world and forgotten by their government. Determined to survive, the  brilliant military doctor Arthur Hayashi, in Wena Poon’s latest novel, hides in Communist China for decades and leaves his granddaughter an unforgettable legacy.  According to Poon, “Hayashi is a role I created in order to answer my own question, ‘What does it mean to look exactly like the enemy?’” (Adapted from the Japan Times)

Wena Poon’s first novel, Alex y Robert, was adapted by the BBC and broadcast as a 10-episode Radio 4 series. Born and raised in Singapore, Poon graduated from Harvard Law School and is a lawyer by profession.

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