Original date of publication: 2013
My copy: 2013 (Norton)
Why I decided to read:
How I acquired my copy: Amazon Vine program, March 2013
The Gods of Heavenly Punishment is set during WWII, and specifically focuses on the American firebombing of Tokyo in 1942 and 1945. We are introduced to Yoshi Kobayashi, the daughter of an expansionist; Cam, a bomber pilot taken prisoner by the Japanese; and Anton, an American architect, who had helped build some of Tokyo’s modern buildings in the 1920s and ‘30s but is enlisted to build test structures for the American air force to practice.
Epstein has chosen an event that rarely gets written about in fiction, yet caused so much devastation at the same time; in the Operation Meetinghouse attack of 1945, 16 square miles of Tokyo were destroyed, approximately 100,000 people were killed, and over a million lost their homes. It was the deadliest air raid of WWII. So I was very interested to read about this lesser-known period of history and witness it through the eyes of these characters—especially Yoshi, who finds herself directly impacted by the 1945 raid. Jennifer Cody Epstein writes beautifully, and her description of what happens to these characters is riveting.