Upcoming Japanese translations

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Upcoming Japanese translations

Bearbeitet: Jan. 18, 3:37am

Hello everyone.

As new admin of this group I thought I'd create a thread for upcoming Japanese translations. Japanese literature, especially by women, has hit a feverish boom lately and it's hard to keep track of all the new releases. This thread does not require that only I post in it so please feel free to post upcoming translations you stumble upon.

This initial post will have a list of the books coming out in translation in the current year.

1) Junichiro Tanizaki : Longing and other stories (tr. Anthony Chambers and Paul McCarthy)
2) Yoko Tawada : Scattered All Over the Earth (tr. Margaret Mitsutani)
3) Emi Yagi : Diary of a Void (tr. David Boyd and Lucy North)
4) Beautiful Star by Yukio Mishima (tr. Stephen Dodd)
5) Hiromi Ito : The Thorn Puller (tr. Jeffrey Angles)
6) Shion Miura : Kamusari Tales Told at Nights (tr. Juliet Winters Carpenter)
7) Riku Onda : Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight (tr. Alison Watts)
8) Koji Suzuki : The Shining Sea
9) Kotaro Isaka : Three Assassins (tr. Sam Malissa)
10) Yūko Tsushima : Woman Running in the Mountains (tr. Geraldine Harcourt)
11) Fuminori Nakamura : My Annihilation (tr. Sam Bett)
12) Genpei Akasegawa : I Guess All We Have Is Freedom (tr. Matthew Fargo)
13) Masatsugu Ono : At the Edge of the Woods (tr. Juliet Winters Carpenter)
14) Chesil : The Color of the Sky Is the Shape of the Heart (tr. Takami Nieda)
15) Mieko Kawakami : All the Lovers in the Night (tr. Sam Bett and David Boyd)
16) Li Kotomi : Solo Dance (tr. Arthur Reiji Morris)
17) Seicho Matsumoto : Tokyo Express
18) Seishi Yokomizo : Gokumon Island (tr. Louise Heal Kawai)
19) Erika Kobayashi : Trinity, Trinity, Trinity (tr. Brian Bergstrom)
20) Osamu Dazai : Early Light (tr. Donald Keene and Ralph McCarthy)
21) Sayaka Murata : Life Ceremony: Stories (tr. Ginny Tapley Takemori)
22) Tomohiko Morimi : The Tatami Galaxy (tr. Emily Balistrieri)
23) Kaoru Takamura: Lady Joker, Volume 2

Translated books from former years:

Bearbeitet: Feb. 19, 2021, 3:40am

For 2021:

This article mentions 5 novels to look out for in 2021. This list includes some very prominent authors so I'm sure it'll be an exciting list for many. Italics are for the blurb given by the website.

1) Natsuko Imamura: The Woman in the Purple Skirt (tr. Lucy North)
This tells the story of an unhealthy relationship between two women known only as the titular woman in the purple skirt and the woman in the orange cardigan. Our protagonist, who lives in a rundown apartment and is all but destitute, follows a daily ritual of eating a cream bun in the park. She is watched, and eventually approached by the woman in the orange cardigan, who helps her into a hotel job and continues to manipulate her from the shadows.

This one won the Akutagawa Prize in 2019 and is a book I've had my eye on. Although, I recently looked at in Japanese and it looks to be a very easy read so I think I'll stick to the original.

2) Mieko Kawakami : Heaven (tr. Sam Bett and David Boyd)
This follows the tortured life of a teenage boy who is bullied relentlessly for his lazy eye. He resigns himself to his abuse but also finds kinship in a fellow classmate, a girl, who is going through the same routine of vicious bullying. This is a novel that explores the effects of bullying, the justifications of it and how bullying pervades our everyday lives. Most importantly, the book asks: why?

I haven't read Breasts and Eggs yet but I recently purchased it in Japanese and am really looking forward to it. This also sounds great about a very common problem here in Japan, albeit once I haven't read yet about in literature form.

3) Haruki Murakami : First Person Singular: Stories (tr. Philip Gabriel)
This is a collection of eight stories very much aimed at longtime fans of Murakami’s work. Every story in this collection is a first-person narrative, told by classic Murakami protagonists, as well as by Murakami himself. This collection will feature all the staple tropes of Murakami: jazz music, magical realism, dreams, surrealism and more. It also blurs the lines between fiction and memoir, representing a new form of Murakami, an evolution of his iconic style.

I'm impressed with the speed at which this is coming out. I'm pretty sure it was on bookshelves here in Japan just last year! And so quickly after his last short story collection. Murakami is just too prolific to keep up with.

4) Mizuki Tsujimura : Lonely Castle in the Mirror (tr. Philip Gabriel)
This is a new Japanese novel that uses fantastic tropes and a fantasy setting as a loose backdrop to tell a compelling tale. This is a book about loneliness and what it takes to overcome it, forming connections as we go. The novel follows the lives of seven disconnected teenagers in modern-day Tokyo who are pulled into a fantastical land through their mirrors. The castle they arrive at is a truly magnificent and majestic place, but at its core is a puzzle they must solve. Freeing themselves means being granted a wish; failing to do so will result in their death.

5) Izumi Suzuki : Terminal Boredom (tr. Polly Barton, Sam Bett, David Boyd, Daniel Joseph, Aiko Masubuchi and Helen O’Horan)
These are punk and venomous speculative fiction tales for fans of Margaret Atwood and Charlie Brooker’s “Black Mirror.” They explore social issues; play with what is real and what is acceptable. Suzuki is a daring writer and these stories will show the English-language world what she is made of.

Bearbeitet: Feb. 19, 2021, 5:45pm

>1 lilisin: This is a great thread idea, something that is sure to add to my watch out for list! Heaven and Terminal Boredom sound like they'd be right up my alley.

Here's a couple I found coming out later this year:

So We Look to the Sky; Misumi Kubo

Sexually explicit and searingly honest, So We Look to the Sky is a novel told in five linked stories that begin with an affair between a student and a woman ten years his senior, who picks him up for cosplay sex at a comics convention. Their scandalous liaison, which the woman's husband makes public by posting secretly taped video online, frames all of the stories, but each explores a different aspect of the life passages and hardships ordinary people face. A teenager experimenting with sex and then, perhaps, experiencing love and loss; a young, anime-obsessed wife bullied by her mother-in-law to produce the child she and her husband cannot conceive; a high-school girl, spurned by the student, realizing that being cute and fertile is all others expect of her; the student's best friend, who lives in the projects and is left alone to support and care for his voracious senile grandmother; and the student's mother, a divorced single parent and midwife, who guides women bringing new life into this world and must rescue her son, crushed by the twin blows of public humiliation and loss, from giving up on his own.

Colorful; Eto Mori

A beloved and bestselling classic in Japan, this groundbreaking tale of a dead soul who gets a second chance is now available in English for the very first time.

“Congratulations, you’ve won the lottery!” shouts the angel Prapura to a formless soul. The soul hasn’t been kicked out of the cycle of rebirth just yet–he’s been given a second chance. He must recall the biggest mistake of his past life while on ‘homestay’ in the body of fourteen-year-old Makoto Kobayashi, who has just committed suicide. It looks like Makoto doesn’t have a single friend, and his family don’t seem to care about him at all. But as the soul begins to live Makoto’s life on his own terms, he grows closer to the family and the people around him, and sees their true colors more clearly, shedding light on Makoto’s misunderstandings.

Three Streets; Yoko Tawada

In Tawada’s ruminative collection of three fantastic tales (after The Emissary), a nameless, wandering narrator moves between contemporary Berlin and an imaginary realm of poets and ghosts. A trip to an organic food store with a ghostly child in “Kollwitz Strasse” sets the narrator to thinking about the sketches of Käthe Kollwitz, a German artist who drew heartrending pictures of “poverty that individuals can’t be held responsible for.” In “Majakowskiring,” the narrator walks through a quiet part of what was once East Berlin, thinking about a woman who’s “a typical West Berliner” and therefore couldn’t be bothered to visit that neighborhood, then enters a mysterious restaurant in which a photograph of the Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky comes to life. And in “Pushkin Allee,” the narrator envisions the lives and motivations of Red Army soldiers, workers, and a German child memorialized in a park. Though the stories share a concern with the politics and the disasters of the 20th century, it is Tawada’s astute, observational asides that will remain with readers: city life is “an amusement park of the senses... full of people you might have met.” Brief and surprising, these stories reinvent familiar landmarks and artworks, giving readers an imaginative and hopeful way to grapple with the history that’s written into the urban landscape.

Mrz. 3, 2021, 9:39pm

>2 lilisin: Hey this is super! I will be sure to check out these titles. Thanks!

Bearbeitet: Mrz. 22, 2021, 4:18am

Found two more novels for 2021.

Also, I added all these titles in the first post of this thread for easy "shopping".

1) An I-Novel by Minae Mizumura, Translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter (Columbia University Press, March 2)

A semi-autobiographical novel about a single day in the 1980s, first published in 1995. The narrator talks to her sister and considers her decision to move back to Japan from the U.S.

Minae Mizumura's An I-Novel is a semi-autobiographical work that takes place over the course of a single day in the 1980s. Minae is a Japanese expatriate graduate student who has lived in the United States for two decades but turned her back on the English language and American culture. After a phone call from her older sister reminds her that it is the twentieth anniversary of their family’s arrival in New York, she spends the day reflecting in solitude and over the phone with her sister about their life in the United States, trying to break the news that she has decided to go back to Japan and become a writer in her mother tongue.

Published in 1995, this formally daring novel radically broke with Japanese literary tradition. It liberally incorporated English words and phrases, and the entire text was printed horizontally, to be read from left to right, rather than vertically and from right to left. In a luminous meditation on how a person becomes a writer, Mizumura transforms the I-novel, a Japanese confessional genre that toys with fictionalization. An I-Novel tells the story of two sisters while taking up urgent questions of identity, race, and language. Above all, it considers what it means to write in the era of the hegemony of English and what it means to be a writer of Japanese in particular. Juliet Winters Carpenter masterfully renders a novel that once appeared untranslatable into English.

I haven't yet read Mizumura but I do have her Inheritance from Mother on my pile of books to read. Hoping to get to it soon.

2) Astral Season, Beastly Season by Tahi Saihate (tr. Kalau Almony)

Astral Season, Beastly Season is the debut novel by Japanese writer Tahi Saihate. The story follows Morishita and Yamashiro, two high-school boys approaching the age in life when they must choose what kind of people they want to be. When their favourite J-pop idol kills and dismembers her boyfriend, Morishita and Yamashiro unite to convince the police that their idol’s act was in fact by them. This thrilling novel is a meditation on belonging, the objectification of young popstars, and teenage alienation.

This one actually seems quite interesting. I wonder if it's supposed to be an adult or teenage/coming-of-age type novel?

Mrz. 22, 2021, 1:13pm

That looks pretty interesting. Saihate is an established poet - I haven't seen her poems but I saw a film based on them, Tokyo Night Sky Is Always the Deepest Shade of Blue, which won the Kinema Junpo Film of the Year a few years back.

Bearbeitet: Mai 2, 2021, 8:27am

Exciting news!

The famous mystery The Village of Eight Graves by Seishi Yokomizo is getting an English translation coming out November 30th. (tr. Bryan Karetnyk)

I've read this in French and let me tell you it is fantastic. I really, truly, highly, recommend this one. Definitely pick it up.

Nestled deep in the mist-shrouded mountains, The Village of Eight Graves takes its name from a bloody legend: in the Sixteenth Century eight samurais, who had taken refuge there along with a secret treasure, were murdered by the inhabitants, bringing a terrible curse down upon their village.

Centuries later a mysterious young man named Tatsuya arrives in town, bringing a spate of deadly poisonings in his wake. The inimitably scruffy and brilliant Kosuke Kindaichi investigates.

Source: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/675956/the-village-of-eight-graves-by-s...

Bearbeitet: Mai 7, 2021, 2:44pm

Merci lilisin! It is hard to ignore a "really, truly, highly, definitely pick it up" recommendation! One of the perks to being able to read in French (well at least enough to get into a story, even if I don't understand every word), and living in Montréal is that I can make the most of books in both languages. I have already seen that we have this book at the library, so will check it out.

Aug. 30, 2021, 4:04pm

A few for 2022:

1) Longing and other stories; Jun'ichirō Tanizaki

“Longing” recounts the fantastic journey of a precocious young boy through an eerie nighttime landscape. Replete with striking natural images and uncanny human encounters, it ends with a striking revelation. “Sorrows of a Heretic” follows a university student and aspiring novelist who lives in degrading poverty in a Tokyo tenement. Ambitious and tormented, the young man rebels against his family against a backdrop of sickness and death. “The Story of an Unhappy Mother” describes a vivacious but self-centered woman’s drastic transformation after a freak accident involving her son and daughter-in-law. Written in different genres, the three stories are united by a focus on mothers and sons and a concern for Japan’s traditional culture in the face of Westernization. 1

2) Scattered All Over the Earth; Yoko Tawada

Welcome to the not-too-distant future: Japan, having vanished from the face of the earth, is now remembered as “the land of sushi.” Hiruko, its former citizen and a climate refugee herself, has a job teaching immigrant children in Denmark with her invented language Panska (Pan-Scandinavian): “homemade language. no country to stay in. three countries I experienced. insufficient space in brain. so made new language. homemade language.”

As she searches for anyone who can still speak her mother tongue, Hiruko soon makes new friends. Her troupe travels to France, encountering an umami cooking competition; a dead whale; an ultra-nationalist named Breivik; unrequited love; Kakuzo robots; red herrings; uranium; an Andalusian matador. Episodic and mesmerizing scenes flash vividly along, and soon they’re all next off to Stockholm.

3) Diary of a Void; Emi Yagi

The novel follows 34-year-old Ms Shibata, who works for a company manufacturing cardboard tubes in Tokyo. Her job is relatively secure: she’s a full-time employee, and the company has a better reputation than her previous workplace, where she was subject to sexual harassment by clients and colleagues. But the job requires working overtime almost every day and as the only woman, there’s the unspoken expectation that she will handle all the menial chores. One day, exasperated and fed up, Ms Shibata announces that she can’t clear away her colleagues’ dirty cups, because she’s pregnant. She isn’t, but her news brings results: a sudden change in the way she’s treated. 3

Aug. 31, 2021, 4:15am

>9 stretch:
I wasn't expecting 2022 results to be up so soon but I guess it's that time of year. Definitely intrigued by Tanizaki and Yagi as I already like Tanizaki's works and am curious to read the Yagi as this would be a new author for me.

The Tawada I feel like I'll end up reading it anyway but as her last book The Emissary was a bit ho-hum for me, I won't go into this with too high of expectations.

Aug. 31, 2021, 8:44am

>10 lilisin: Crazy to think 2022 is around the corner! Yagi looks really interesting. Tanizaki is defintely someoneI want to get back to, right now contempary Japan has a stronger pull, but that transition period and early moden Japan is always appealing. Feeling the same about Tawada, this one sounds like a reverse of the Emissary, exotic look at Japan from the outside rather than from the inside. Her concepts are interesting for sure, but the Emissary was just a so-so read, I'll invebitibly read this, but it's not one that has moved to the top of my ever growing pile.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 15, 2021, 7:08pm

Here's a summary of all the 2021 books that came out in translation in English. Did anyone read these? What are your most recommended?

1) Natsuko Imamura: The Woman in the Purple Skirt (tr. Lucy North)
2) Mieko Kawakami : Heaven (tr. Sam Bett and David Boyd)
3) Haruki Murakami : First Person Singular: Stories (tr. Philip Gabriel)
4) Mizuki Tsujimura : Lonely Castle in the Mirror (tr. Philip Gabriel)
5) Izumi Suzuki : Terminal Boredom (tr. Polly Barton, Sam Bett, David Boyd, Daniel Joseph, Aiko Masubuchi and Helen O’Horan)
6) Misumi Kubo : So We Look to the Sky
7) Eto Mori : Colorful
8) Yoko Tawada : Three Streets
9) Minae Mizumura : An I-Novel (tr. Juliet Winters Carpenter)
10) Tahi Saihate : Astral Season, Beastly Season (tr. Kalau Almony)
11) Seishi Yokomizo : The Village of Eight Graves (tr. Bryan Karetnyk)
12) Shion Miura : The Easy Life in Kamusari

I have now replaced the 2021 list in post 1 with 2022 in preparation for new translations.

Okt. 14, 2021, 8:09am

I saw on an Amazon list that I Am Cat, is getting an English Manga edition. Even have read this several years ago, and finding it repetitive by nature of serialization, I think this might be a perfect book for a Manga treatment and I might need to pick this up.

Bearbeitet: Okt. 21, 2021, 7:03pm

My Annihilation; Fuminori Nakamura

Turn this page, and you may forfeit your entire life.

With My Annihilation, Fuminori Nakamura, master of literary noir, has constructed a puzzle box of a narrative in the form of a confessional diary that implicates its reader in a heinous crime.

Delving relentlessly into the darkest corners of human consciousness, My Annihilation interrogates the unspeakable thoughts all humans share that can be monstrous when brought to life, revealing with disturbing honesty the psychological motives of a killer.

This one sounds dark. And may climb my Nakamura TBR. Comes out in Jan. 11.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 12, 2021, 10:25am

Some More I found:

Beautiful Star by Yukio Mishima

Beautiful Star is a 1962 tale of family, love, nuclear war and UFOs, and was the novel Mishima considered to be his masterpiece.

Translated into English for the first time, this atmospheric black comedy tells the story of the Osugi family, who come to the sudden realization that each of them hails from a different planet: Father from Mars, mother from Jupiter, son from Mercury and daughter from Venus. This extra-terrestrial knowledge brings them closer together, and convinces them that they have a mission: to find others of their kind, and save humanity from the imminent threat of the atomic bomb...


The Thorn Puller by Hiromi Ito

The first novel to appear in English by award-winning author Hiromi Ito explores the absurdities, complexities, and challenges experienced by a woman caring for her two families: her husband and daughters in California and her aging parents in Japan. As the narrator shuttles back and forth between these two starkly different cultures, she creates a powerful and entertaining narrative about what it means to live and die in a globalized society.


Kamusari Tales Told at Nights by Shion Miura

It’s been a year since Yuki Hirano left home―or more precisely, was booted from it―to study forestry in the remote mountain village of Kamusari. Being a woodsman is not the future he imagined, but his name means “courage,” and Yuki hopes to live up to it. He’s adapting to his job and learning constantly. In between, he records local legends―tales pulsing with life, passion, and wondrous gods. Kamusari has other charms as well. One of them is Nao.

Yuki’s crush on the only other young single person in the village isn’t a secret. Yet how impressed can she be with someone at least five years younger who makes less money and doesn’t even own a car? More daunting, she’s in love with another man. Finally finding his place among the villagers, a feeling deepened by his crush, Yuki seems headed for a dream life of adventure and camaraderie―and Nao could be the missing piece of that dream.

Looks like book 2 of a series.

Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight by Riku Onda

Set in a Tokyo flat over the course of one night, Aki and Hiro spend one last night together before going their separate ways. Each believes the other to be a murderer and is determined to extract a confession before the night is over. Who has been killed and why? Which one is the killer? In an intense battle of wills over the course of a night, the true nature of the pair’s relationship and the chain of events leading up to this night are gradually revealed in this gripping psychological thriller that keeps the reader in suspense to the very end.

The thriller--buried in a literary whodunit--explores the mysteries of romantic love, memory and attaining self-knowledge. Like the best Japanese crime writing, it is an unflinching foray into the darker recesses of the soul, quietly suspenseful and elegantly constructed.


The Shining Sea by Koji Suzuki

A young woman who attempted suicide by drowning has lost her memory and ability to speak. Her lover, a young man, is on a pelagic tuna fishing boat. What happened between them?

Nobody knows their own destiny. But what if you discover you only have a low chance of being happy in life?


Three Assassins by Kotaro Isaka

Suzuki is just an ordinary man until his wife is murdered. When he discovers the criminal gang responsible he leaves behind his life as a maths teacher and joins them, looking for a chance to take his revenge. What he doesn't realise is that he's about to get drawn into a web of unusual professional assassins, each with their own agenda.

The Whale convinces his victims to take their own lives using just his words. The Cicada is a talkative and deadly knife expert. The elusive Pusher dispatches his targets in deadly traffic accidents.

Suzuki must take each of them on, in order to try to find justice and keep his innocence in a world of killers.


Woman Running in the Mountains by Yūko Tsushima

Alone at dawn, in the heat of midsummer, a young woman named Takiko departs on foot for the hospital to give birth to a baby boy. Her pregnancy, the result of a casual affair with a married man, is a source of sorrow and shame to her abusive parents. For Takiko, however, it is a cause for reverie. Her baby, she imagines, will be hers and hers alone, a challenge but also an instrument for her long-wished-for independence. Takiko’s first year as a mother is filled with the intense bodily pleasures and pains that come from caring for a newborn, learning how to accommodate him. At first Takiko seeks refuge in the company of other women, in the maternity hospital, in her son’s nursery, but as he grows, her life becomes less circumscribed, expanding outward into previously unknown neighborhoods in her city and then beyond, into the countryside, toward a mountain that captures her imagination and feeling for a wilder freedom.


Nov. 14, 2021, 8:47pm

>15 stretch:

I've added them to the list in post 1, thank you!
Frankly I'm not sure how many of these appeal to me but I'll definitely be reading the Tsushima as I've very much enjoyed her first two books. I think she writes wonderfully about the plight of single mothers.

I wonder if the Shion Miura book is a sequel to The Great Passage? I haven't read that one though so wouldn't be able to say for certain.

As for the Hiromi Ito, I find I have little interest for books about Japanese abroad. I wonder what that particularity in my reading is about?

Nov. 15, 2021, 9:52am

>16 lilisin: Kamusari Tales Told at Night is a sequeal to The Easy Life in Kamusari which apparently came out this month. According to Amazon. They kind of sound too close to the Great Passage for me to get to in a hurry.

So far there are couple on the list that I'll read eventually but nothing that I'll get to right of way.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 15, 2021, 7:10pm

>17 stretch:

I'll add The Easy Life in Kamusari to the 2021 list.

I've also added a link in the 1st post that takes you directly to the 2021 list in this thread so newcomers to the thread can easily access the link.

Bearbeitet: Dez. 21, 2021, 7:06pm

Updated list with tentative publication dates. (I've also added all of these titles in the first post.)
1) Junichiro Tanizaki : Longing and other stories
Translated by Anthony Chambers and Paul McCarthy (January 2022)

2) Yoko Tawada : Scattered All Over the Earth
Translated by Margaret Mitsutani (March 2022)

3) Emi Yagi : Diary of a Void
Translated by David Boyd and Lucy North (August 2022)

4) Beautiful Star by Yukio Mishima
Translated by Stephen Dodd (April 2022)

5) The Thorn Puller by Hiromi Ito
Translated by Jeffrey Angles (August 2022)

6) Kamusari Tales Told at Nights by Shion Miura
Translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter (May 2022)

7) Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight by Riku Onda
Translated by Alison Watts (February 2022)

8) The Shining Sea by Koji Suzuki
(May 2022)

9) Three Assassins by Kotaro Isaka
Translated by Sam Malissa (April 2022)

10) Woman Running in the Mountains by Yūko Tsushima
Translated by Geraldine Harcourt (February 2022)

11) Fuminori Nakamura : My Annihilation
Translated by Sam Bett (January 2022)

12) Genpei Akasegawa : I Guess All We Have Is Freedom
Translated by Matthew Fargo (February 2022)

13) Masatsugu Ono : At the Edge of the Woods
Translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter (April 2022)

14) Chesil : The Color of the Sky Is the Shape of the Heart
Translated by Takami Nieda (April 2022)

15) Mieko Kawakami : All the Lovers in the Night
Translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd (May 2022)

16) Li Kotomi : Solo Dance
Translated by Arthur Reiji Morris (May 2022)

17) Seicho Matsumoto : Tokyo Express
(May 2022)

18) Seishi Yokomizo : Gokumon Island
Translated by Louise Heal Kawai (June 2022)

19) Erika Kobayashi : Trinity, Trinity, Trinity
Translated by Brian Bergstrom (June 2022)

20) Osamu Dazai : Early Light
Translated by Donald Keene and Ralph McCarthy (July 2022)

21) Sayaka Murata : Life Ceremony: Stories
Translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori (July 2022)

22) Tomohiko Morimi : The Tatami Galaxy
Translated by Emily Balistrieri (fall 2022)

Dez. 17, 2021, 10:28pm

21) Sayaka Murata : Life Ceremony: Stories
Translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori (July 2022)
Murata mixes an unusual cocktail of humor and horror to portray both the loners and outcasts as well as turning the norms and traditions of society on their head to better question them. Whether the stories take place in modern-day Japan, the future, or an alternate reality is left to the reader’s interpretation, as the characters often seem strange in their normality in a frighteningly abnormal world.

15) Mieko Kawakami : All the Lovers in the Night
Translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd (May 2022)
Shy, lonely and introverted Fuyuko lives alone and fills her days with her job as a freelance proofreader. About to turn thirty-five, she cannot imagine ever having any emotional or successful relationship in her life as it currently stands. She is regularly haunted by encounters of the past.

But Fuyuko loves the light and goes out on the night of her birthday, Christmas Eve, to count the lights.

Her only friend, Hijiri, offers some light in her life, but it is a chance encounter with another man, Mr. Mitsutsuka, a physics teacher, who offers her access from another dimension to light.


12) Genpei Akasegawa : I Guess All We Have Is Freedom
Translated by Matthew Fargo (February 2022)
In these stories, ostensibly quiet tales of a single dad in 1970s Tokyo, a doorknob practices radical politics, a peeled tomato smarts in pain, raw oysters tick like time bombs and gravestones provide a critique of capitalism.

13) Masatsugu Ono : At the Edge of the Woods
Translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter (April 2022)
When his wife returns to her parents house to have their second child, an unnamed narrator and his son are left to manage by themselves. Instead of absence, what the father and son begin to notice is a strange noise opening up between them, reverberating through their home, their television set, and the books they read at night. The wood outside their home hums with it, too: leaves fall from branches which are already naked, trees wriggle when walked past, and the hills on the horizon rise and fall in a building rhythm.

14) Chesil : The Color of the Sky Is the Shape of the Heart
Translated by Takami Nieda (April 2022)
Now in translation for the first time, the award-winning debut that broke literary ground in Japan explores diaspora, prejudice, and the complexities of a teen girl’s experience growing up as a Zainichi Korean, reminiscent of Min Jin Lee’s classic Pachinko and Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street.

Seventeen-year-old Ginny Park is about to get expelled from high school—again. Stephanie, the picture book author who took Ginny into her Oregon home after she was kicked out of school in Hawaii, isn’t upset; she only wants to know why. But Ginny has always been in-between. She can’t bring herself to open up to anyone about her past, or about what prompted her to flee her native Japan. Then, Ginny finds a mysterious scrawl among Stephanie’s scraps of paper and storybook drawings that changes everything: The sky is about to fall. Where do you go?

Ginny sets off on the road in search of an answer, with only her journal as a confidante. In witty and brutally honest vignettes, and interspersed with old letters from her expatriated family in North Korea, Ginny recounts her adolescence growing up Zainichi, an ethnic Korean born in Japan, and the incident that forced her to leave years prior. Inspired by her own childhood, author Chesil creates a portrait of a girl who has been fighting alone against barriers of prejudice, nationality, and injustice all her life—and one searching for a place to belong.


Dez. 17, 2021, 10:36pm

16) Li Kotomi : Solo Dance
Translated by Arthur Reiji Morris (May 2022)
Chō Norie, twenty-seven and originally from Taiwan, is working an office job in Tokyo. While her colleagues worry about the economy, life-insurance policies, marriage, and children, she is forced to keep her unconventional life hidden—including her sexuality and the violent attack that prompted her move to Japan. There is also her unusual fascination with death: she knows from personal experience how devastating death can be, but for her it is also creative fuel. Solo Dance depicts the painful coming of age of a gay person in Taiwan and corporate Japan. This striking debut is an intimate and powerful account of a search for hope after trauma.

17) Seicho Matsumoto : Tokyo Express
(May 2022)
In a rocky cove in the bay of Hakata, the bodies of a young and beautiful couple are discovered. Stood in the coast's wind and cold, the police see nothing to investigate: the flush of the couple's cheeks speaks clearly of cyanide, of a lovers' suicide. But in the eyes of two men, Torigai Jutaro, an old and shabby detective, and Kiichi Mihara, a young gun from Tokyo, something is not quite right. Together, they will begin to pick at the knot of a unique and calculated crime...

18) Seishi Yokomizo : Gokumon Island
Translated by Louise Heal Kawai (June 2022)
A fiendish, classic locked room murder mystery, from one of Japan’s greatest crime writers

Loosely inspired by Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, the brilliant Gokumon Island is perhaps the most highly regarded of all the great Seishi Yokomizo’s classic Japanese mysteries.

Detective Kosuke Kindaichi arrives on the remote Gokumon Island bearing tragic news–the son of one of the island’s most important families has died, on a troop transport ship bringing him back home after the Second World War. But Kindaichi has not come merely as a messenger–with his last words, the dying man warned that his three step-sisters’ lives would now be in danger. The scruffy detective is determined to get to the bottom of this mysterious prophesy, and to protect the three women if he can.

As Kindaichi attempts to unravel the island’s secrets, a series of gruesome murders begins. He investigates, but soon finds himself in mortal danger from both the unknown killer and the clannish locals, who resent this outsider meddling in their affairs.


19) Erika Kobayashi : Trinity, Trinity, Trinity
Translated by Brian Bergstrom (June 2022)
A literary thriller about the effects of nuclear power on the mind, body, and recorded history of three generations of Japanese women.

Nine years after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster, Japan is preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. An unnamed narrator wakes up in a cold, sterile room, unable to recall her past. Across the country, the elderly begin to hear voices emanating from black stones, compelling them to behave in strange and unpredictable ways. The voices are a symptom of a disease called “Trinity.”

As details about the disease come to light, we encounter a thread of linked histories—Prometheus stealing fire from the gods, the discovery of radiation, the nuclear arms race, the subsequent birth of nuclear energy, and the disaster in Fukushima. The threads linking these events begins to unravel in the lead-up to a terrorist attack at the Japan National Olympic Stadium.

A work of speculative fiction reckoning with the ramifications of the past and continued effects of nuclear power, Trinity, Trinity, Trinity follows the lives of three generations of women connected by a history of violence.


20) Osamu Dazai : Early Light
Translated by Donald Keene and Ralph McCarthy (July 2022)
Early Light offers three very different aspects of Osamu Dazai's genius: the title story relates his misadventures as a drinker and a family man in the terrible fire bombings of Tokyo at the end of WWII. Having lost their own home, he and his wife flee with a new baby boy and their little girl to relatives in Kofu, only to be bombed out anew. "Everything's gone," the father explains to his daughter: "Mr. Rabbit, our shoes, the Ogigari house, the Chino house, they all burned up," "Yeah, they all burned up," she said, still smiling.

"One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji," another autobiographical tale, is much more comic: Dazai finds himself unable to escape the famous views, the beauty once immortalized by Hokusai and now reduced to a cliche. In the end, young girls torment him by pressing him into taking their photo before the famous peak: "Goodbye," he hisses through his teeth, "Mount Fuji. Thanks for everything. Click."

And the final story is "Villon's Wife," a small masterpiece, which relates the awakening to power of a drunkard's wife. She transforms herself into a woman not to be defeated by anything, not by her husband being a thief, a megalomaniacal writer, and a wastrel. Single-handedly, she saves the day by concluding that "There's nothing wrong with being a monster, is there? As long as we can stay alive."


Dez. 25, 2021, 12:46pm

Got another one:

Kaoru Takamura: Lady Joker, Volume 2
Translated by Allison Markin Powell and Marie Iida (August 2022)

This second half of Lady Joker, by Kaoru Takamura, the Grand Dame of Japanese crime fiction, concludes the breathtaking saga introduced in Volume I.

Inspired by the real-life Glico-Morinaga kidnapping, an unsolved case which terrorized Japan for two years, Lady Joker reimagines the circumstances of this watershed episode in modern Japanese history and brings into riveting focus the lives and motivations of the victims, the perpetrators, the heroes and the villains. As the shady networks linking corporations to syndicates are brought to light, the stakes rise, and some of the professionals we have watched try to fight their way through this crisis will lose everything—some even their lives. Will the culprits ever be brought to justice? More importantly—what is justice?


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