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The Gods of Heavenly Punishment


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About the Author

Jennifer Cody Epstein is the author of the international best-selling novel The Painter from Shanghai, The Gods of Heavenly Punishment (the 2013 Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association adult fiction honor recipient), and most recently, Wunderland. She has written for the Wall Street Journal, Vogue, Self, Mademoiselle, and others. Epstein earned her MFA in fiction from Columbia University and an MA in international affairs from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters.


"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
"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
"Jennifer Cody Epstein's triumphant second novel is a big, visceral, achingly humane portrait of wartime Japan and several Americans charged with building and destroying it. The sweep of Epstein's vision is matched by her empathetic attention to the smallest details in the lives of the people who inhabit it." -- Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit from the Goon Squad
"Jennifer Cody Epstein depicts the firebombing of Tokyo and concurrent events in unflinching but delicately rendered detail. Immaculately researched and deeply imagined, this is an astonishing novel whose battles and intimate encounters alike carry the force of electric jolt. I have never read anything else like it." -- Angela Davis-Gardner, author of Butterfly's Child
"I dare you to read this and not be swept up. The Gods of Heavenly Punishment is shocking and delicate in equal measure." -- Debra Dean, author of The Mirrored World and The Madonnas of Leningrad
"Beautifully researched and evoked, The Gods of Heavenly Punishment brings to haunting, dramatic life one of the most destructive acts of warfare ever perpetrated. In its passion and sweep, this lovely book does artful justice to the profound, contradictory connections between victims and victors, public histories and private lives." -- John Burnham Schwartz, author of The Commoner and Reservation Road
"With the drama and sweep of The English Patient and a rich, painterly sensibility all her own, Jennifer Cody Epstein has created an indelible portrait of the war in the Pacific, seen through the eyes of six characters whose stories will haunt you long after the final brush stroke." -- Hillary Jordan, author of Mudbound

In March 1945, American B-29 bombers flying at low altitude dropped incendiary bombs (napalm) over Tokyo, igniting the city's wood and paper buildings into a blaze that destroyed 17 square miles of city and killed more than 100,000 civilians. The firebombing is the climax of this sweeping novel by Epstein (writing, Columbia Univ.; The Painter from Shanghai), but the story is really about the interconnected lives of several people and their families, both Japanese and American. At the center is Yoshi, a young woman with a fragile, glamorous mother and a traditional, contractor father, but there is also Cam Richards, an American pilot downed in the Doolittle Raid of 1942; his young wife, Lacy; and Anton, a successful architect responsible for modernizing Tokyo, but then later called on by the U.S. Army to help destroy it. There is also Anton's son Billy, who grew up in Japan and years later returns as an Occupation soldier. VERDICT This harrowing novel of destruction and creation will appeal to fans of historical fiction. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, 9/24/12.]-Shaunna E. Hunter, Hampden-Sydney Coll. Lib., VA (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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