Welcome to Japanese Literature Challenge 7!

It’s June, which means that it’s time for Bellezza’s Japanese Literature Challenge 7!  As a new blogger, this challenge four years ago (JLC3) was my first real blogging event; now, my personal J-Lit library is nudging triple figures.  I suppose I thould thank Bellezza for that…

As a first post this year, rather than spamming the new Linky with a lot of recent posts (as I’ve tended to in the past), I though I’d write one with links to all my J-Lit reviews since the end of JLC6 (and January in Japan!).  After that, I’ll let you know what’s coming up on the blog, J-Lit-wise, over the next few months.


In February, I reviewed Phantom Lights by Teru Miyamoto (Kurodahan Press), a collection of short stories set in the Kansai region centred on Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe.  It’s a nice collection of stories from a writer I hadn’t encountered before, even if I wasn’t always sold on the translation.

In April, I reviewed Kenji Nakagami’s The Cape and Other Stories from the Japanese Ghetto (Stone Bridge Press).  This book contains an Akutagawa-Prize-winning novella and a couple of related short stories, all featuring the Burakumin, the Japanese ‘untouchables’.  Well worth a read, it’s an insight into a side of Japan we seldom hear about…

…as was my first May J-Lit review, Ryu Murakami’s Popular Hits of the Showa Era (Pushkin Press)!  One of four recent R. Murakami releases from Pushkin, it’s a mad-cap romp featuring loser nerds, middle-aged women, guns, rocket-launchers and karaoke – what’s not to like?

Finally, my most recent J-Lit post was Blue Bamboo by Osamu Dazai (Kurodahan Press), a wonderful collection of short stories.  While the Dazai I’d read up to then had been very cynical and depressing, this collection is full of adapted myths and fairy tales.  I loved the collection, and Ralph McCarthy (who also translated the Murakami book) did a great job with his revised work 🙂

That’s what’s happened recently – what’s coming up over the next few months?  Well, I’ve been lucky enough to receive a few more review copies, so expect to see posts on Nagai Kafu, Tomoyuki Hoshino and Ryu Murakami.  From the shelves, I expect to be having a look at classic works by Yukio Mishima, Natsume Soseki, Shusaku Endo and Naoya Shiga at some point, and to even up the gender balance, I’ll probably be reading some Banana Yoshimoto, Yoko Ogawa and Hitomi Kanehara.  Oh, and I’ve got a couple of anthologies to get to too 🙂

This year though, Bellezza has announced that there will be a monthly theme, and the one for June happens to be children’s literature  Hmm – I’m sure if I search my shelves hard enough, I might just find one for that too 😉

That’s all for now, but stay tuned – my first review for JLC7 will be out very soon 🙂


10 thoughts on “Welcome to Japanese Literature Challenge 7!

  1. Tony! Japanese literature acquisitions approaching he triple digits? I'm so jealous! I have you to thank for acquiring the Oxford collection of Japanese Short Stories which so fabulous. I also thank you for The Briefcase. I'm looking forward to so many books this time around, including Blue Bamboo and Phantom Lights, but now I'm sad a out the icky translation…anyway, I love sharing our affection for this genre, and I so look forward to many discussions to come.


  2. Bellezza – Thanks for the comments 🙂 I don't buy as many books as I used to (for space reasons, as much as anything), but J-Lit is my one indulgence! I hope to have about five reviews in June to kick off the challenge, mainly because I coincidentally had several Japanese review copies on hand 😉


  3. I hadn't heard of Phantom Lights, having somehow missed your earlier review of it. I read a novel of his a few years ago–Kinshu: Autumn Brocade–that I thought was quite good. Maybe you should give Miyamoto another chance! 🙂


  4. Colleen – I've heard good things about that one too, but I had some doubts about the translation of 'Phantom Lights'. It's not that it's bad, it's just that it's another of those Japanese translations where the dialogue sticks to the original so much that the end result is something you could never actually imagine anyone ever saying in English. I get the feeling that many Japanese-English translators (especially those with an academic background) forget that dialogue is supposed to reflect how people talk. There was a classic example of this in my next review (on Nagai Kafu's 'American Stories')- if a US soldier dumping his coloured mistress ever used the words credited to him in the book, then I'm a Dutchman 😉


  5. Not yet triple figures but definitely high double for my j-lit collection. Then again just realised that if I add poetry it & ebooks it probably is. Maybe I need to collate what I've got then go from there. What I meant to say is Yeeeeaaahhhhh J-lit challenge!!!!!!!!


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