Five Translated Japanese Works to Read This Fall | Books

As the temperature drops and the days get shorter, there’s no better way to spend the night than with a good book. If you’re into Japanese literature this fall and aren’t sure where to start, we’ve rounded up five translated Japanese works (three novels, a collection of poems, and a nonfiction book) for you to enjoy. month Check out our recommendations from Gary Dexter below.

Names and rivers By Shuri Kido, translated by Tomoyuki Endo and Forrest Gander, published September 20, 2022

Shuri Kido is the author of numerous poetry collections and translations; among the latter are Japanese translations of Ezra Pound and TS Eliot. He is known as the “poet of the far north,” and his poetry reflects the mountains, rivers, and skies of his native Morioka (in northern Japan’s Iwate Prefecture), where “there are more badgers and foxes than people.” As Kido says in Toward the Temple of Risshaku, these great spaces also exist within people: “Your life is between the stony mountains/voices” or in their works of art, as in The Birds of Passage. Outside, growing pale, / not even a line has been written, / an empty sky has already collapsed.’ It’s a bilingual text to accommodate readers who like to second-guess a translation, and in this case the two translators are Waka University professor Tomoyuki Endo and Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet Forrest Gander. This is the first step Kido translates into English and is very helpful.

Dolls in the attic Hiroko Oyamada, translated by David Boyd, published October 4, 2022

Oyama is a prominent author Factory and Holeboth translated by David Boyd. Dolls in the attic It’s a novella of less than 100 pages, but short fiction is something Japanese novelists do well (and Japanese publishers, unlike their Western counterparts, don’t shy away from putting novels in front of a readership). The book follows the fate of three couples: Urabe, a tropical fish farmer who dies on the first page, shares his death, leaving behind his young wife and numerous fish tanks deprived of Urabe’s services; the narrator and his wife who tries and fails to conceive; and the narrator’s friend Saiki and his wife Yoko, who live in the village and have a rooster problem in their house. As they live in the attic, the springs urinate so much that the tokonoma downstairs leaks and the hanging scroll is irreparably damaged; and this is only the beginning of their problems. The narrator’s wife tells Saiki and Yoko a story about their experiences with the dolls, which involves a rather sad method of destruction. As in Oyamada’s earlier novels, Dolls in the attic lingers over the grotesques of everyday life with subtle, deadpan humor.

Novelist as a profession Translated by Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen, published November 8, 2022

Finally, the truth can be told. Apparently, Murakami didn’t consider becoming a writer until he was 29, when he was watching a baseball game (he’s a fan of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows) and thought, “Why don’t you go?” he thought. Acting on this epiphany, he wrote his first novel, Listen to the song of the windWinner of the 1979 Gunzo Award Novelist as a profession Murakami asks himself: Are novelists a tolerant race? To whom should I write? Which characters are the most interesting? Among his conclusions, he says that writing a truly perfect novel does not require any particular material: what matters is the magic. “Even if we use only everyday rustic materials, even if we use plain and simple language, if there is magic in it, we can create amazingly complex devices out of it.” Where can this magic be found? Probably as Haruki Murakami. It’s an interesting read for novelists and non-novelists alike; and considering it was published in Japanese in 2015, it’s long overdue in English.

Idol, Burning Rin Usami, translated by Asa Yoneda, published on November 15, 2022

Idol, Burning It was the single best-selling novel in Japan in 2020, published when the author was still 21 years old, and won the Akutagawa Prize. The idol in question is Masaki Ueno, a member of the boy band Maza Maza oshi, or the heartthrob, high school girl narrator Akari. Akari’s life is completely controlled by her fandom. She looks at his horoscope every morning, buys him a cake on his birthday and eats it all himself (then vomits), builds a shrine to him in his bedroom, swings a light stick of his special color, watches all his live streams and SNS. activity. The scenes involving the latter are some of the best observed moments of the novel, as they reveal a fantasy world based on social media that exists only to perpetuate itself. As Akari says: “I wasn’t attracted to the idea of ​​hooking up with Oshime. I went to shows, just to be part of the crowd.” The question at the heart of the book is: Will Akari grow up and find a way out of her obsession, or will it destroy her?

He and His Cat Makoto Shinkai and Naruki Nagakawa, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori, published on November 22, 2022

Japan is arguably the world leader in cat fiction and He and His Cat is a fascinating addition to the genre. Makoto Shinkai is known as the writer and director of the world-conquering anime Your nameand He and His Cat also began as an anime film in 1999, depicting the progression of a relationship between a male cat and his female owner. The book consists of four linked short stories following Miyu and her cat Chobi, who experience romantic disappointment; artist Reina and her kitten Mimi; delinquent Aoi and her cat Cookie; and Shino and her grumpy cat Kuro. There is a rather surprising dog, Jon, who can speak the language of cats (or maybe they communicate telepathically). This approach is similar to that of Natsume Soseki I’m a Cat, that cats tell at least parts of the stories. For these four women, building relationships in a society characterized by loneliness and anomie is difficult, but if you don’t give up, there’s still love and magic around every corner. And it’s usually cat-shaped.

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