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Author: G.L. Tysk
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: October 2012
It is 1841. Japanese fisherman Shima and his younger brother, out on a routine fishing expedition, are wrecked on an uninhabited island by a freak typhoon. Their rescue by a passing American whaling ship proves a short-lived miracle when, barred from reentering Japan, the ship heads for the whaling grounds of the South Pacific.
Shima becomes an unwilling passenger in a strange floating world filled with foreign faces, a new language, and a hostile chief mate. But when the reclusive captain suddenly falls ill, Shima and third mate Daniel Ellis stumble upon a secret from his past that brings together their previously isolated worlds.
Inspired by the true story of John Manjiro, one of the first Japanese in America and later interpreter to the shogun, “The Sea-God at Sunrise” is a tale of friendship and forgiveness across two cultures at the height of America’s Golden Age of Whaling.
I received a copy of this book from the author for an honest review.
The Sea-God at Sunrise reads like a classic. It is nautical and historical fiction at its best. G.L.Tysk is knowledgeable of Japanese culture as well as the art of whaling. She takes you on a sea adventure and, even though I know nothing about the sea or whaling, I was able to follow and understand what was going on on the ship.
The cultural barrier between the two boys who were rescued and the rest of the crew was related well. I was also impressed with how she portrayed the language barrier at the beginning and the progression of Shima’s language skills as the story progressed.
The characters are well developed and you feel like you know the crew members and Shima and Takao. It was interesting to see how my perception of some of the characters changed as the story progressed and I learned more about them.
G.L. Tysk was born in Chicago to Hong Kong immigrants. Her maternal grandfather made a living selling gasoline to the local fishing boats, and her mother grew up among the children of fishermen. Both of her parents left their islands behind in the mid ’70s when they came to the United States, but their roots as island dwellers have shaped her and brought her back to the sea in her writing.
Raised in Colorado and Texas, Tysk received her B.A. in English Literature at the University of Texas at Austin, and then moved abroad to Japan. When she returned, she tried her hand at a variety of careers, including graphic design and librarianship. While working at a local library, she discovered Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. That book changed her life, leading her to write the novel that would become The Sea-God at Sunrise and an eventual move to Massachusetts. She now lives in Boston with her Norwegian-American husband.
This muddling of multiple careers and cultures drives her to explore the effect of cultural exchange and diversity in her writing. She is most inspired by the history of American whaling, the United States’ first equal opportunity employer, its first worldwide industry, and the young country’s first true “melting pot.” The city of New Bedford, about an hour’s drive from Boston, was once known as the whaling capital of the world.
In addition to writing, she works as an artist, costumer, and photographer in the greater Boston area. Tysk also performs as part of a local Japanese taiko drumming ensemble. Some of her non-writing interests are anime, videogames, and k-pop. 🙂
Her favorite authors are William Faulkner, JRR Tolkien, James Joyce, and Herman Melville.