pleased to pick up a copy of reconciliation by Naoya Shiga recently published by canongate and translated by Ted Goossen. very much hope I can add a more in depth review in the near future. contemplating my blog recently, there's the pull to perhaps add an additional twitter account as time has been an obstacle for me, although with my blog I've hoped to avoid it from slipping into the somewhat rewardlessness slipstream of social media, it's something I've wanted to sidetrack with my reading. that said this book despite it's translator has drifted off certain American places/radar, so hopefully I'll come back with a fuller review.
A book I'm much looking forward to and one I'll add to the list of titles for this year is Yukio Mishima - The Death of a Man published to commemorate 50 years since the author's passing. With photographs by Kishin Shinoyama. As of yet I can't see details of the translator, the book is published by Rizzoli.
The Death of Man at Rizzoli USA
I've a copy of The Factory by Hiroko Oyamada, translated by David Boyd to read very soon and I'm interested to read that a new title from her is forthcoming later in the year, The Hole, which won the Akutagawa Prize, again translated by David Boyd. Another short story Careless by Oyamada is translated by Lucy North and is available to read via Granta Online.
From one list to another, a quick, albeit a little late,run down of books I managed to read last year, apologies I'll not list translators or publishers, but obviously many thanks to them for their endeavours, happy reading in 2020.
Arthur Rimbaud - Illuminations
Andre Gide - Urien's Voyage
Walter Kempowski - Homeland
Joseph Roth - Flight Without End
Frederic Dard - Bird In A Cage
Robert Aickman - The Inner Room
Roland Topor - Head to Toe Portrait of Suzanne
Guy de Maupassant - Pierre and Jean
Lucy M. Boston - The Sea Egg
Hans Koningsberger - A Walk With Love and Death
Tomas Transtromer - The Half Finished Heaven
Yu Miri - Tokyo Ueno Station
Yukiko Motoya - Picnic In the Storm
Claire Keegan - Foster
Edgardo Franzosini - The Animal Gazer
Edouard Louis - Who Killed My Father?
Sadeq Hedayat - The Blind Owl
Yukio Mishima - Star
Henri-Pierre Roche - Jules et Jim
Eric Vuillard - The Order of the Day
Rilke and Betz - Rilke In Paris
Boris Pasternak - The Last Summer
Patrick Modiano - The Sleep of Memory
George Simenon - The Hand
Elio Vittorini - Conversations in Sicily
Merce Rodoreda - Death In Spring
Yukio Mishima - Life For Sale
George Simenon - The Glass Cage
Yoko Ogawa - The Memory Police
Arthur Rimbaud - A Season In Hell
Sarah Moss - Ghost Wall
Andre Gide - The Counterfeiters
Jean de la Ville de Mirmont - The Sundays of Jean Dezert
Kentaro Miura - Berserk vol -1, 2, 3
Andre Naffis-Sahely - The Promised Land
Kenzaburo Oe - J and Seventeen
A list in progress of books I'm looking forward to -
The Chronicles of Lord Asunaro - Hanawa Kanji trans. Meredith McKinney Red Circle February
Where the Wild Ladies Are - Matsuda Aoko trans. Polly Barton - Tilted Axis Press The Inugami Curse - Yokomiso Seishi trans? Pushkin Press The Man Without Talent - Tsuge Yoshiharu trans. Ryan Holmberg NYRC (amazon)
The Aosawa Murders - Riku Onda trans. Alison Watts - Bitter Lemon Press
Beginning to look ahead to the new year, its perhaps time to compile a list of forthcoming titles, among them would be a couple from Tilted Axis Press who are set to publish U.K editions of Ito Hiromi's Killing Kanako along with Wild Grass on the Riverbank translated by Jeffrey Angles (here). As well as this comes the novel Where the Wild Ladies Are by Matsuda Aoko translated by Polly Barton, (here), click through the publisher's page to find a link to one of the stories included 'Smartening Up'.
It's great to see a couple more titles by Kawakami Hiromi appearing in translation in the not so distant future, Parade, a companion piece to Strange Weather in Tokyo is due in November by Soft Skull Press, translated by Allison Markin Powell and then next year Breasts and Eggs, which was awarded the Akutagawa Prize is due to be published by Picador, at the moment I see the translation is listed as being from both David Boyd and Sam Bett. Recently published in the U.K by Granta is The Ten Loves of Mr Nishino, translated by Allison Markin Powell, it feels simply mind boggling that nine years have passed since first reading Manazuru and thanks mainly to Allison Markin Powell we've read more in the time between.
Reading The Ten Loves of Mr Nishino the structure of the book brought to mind Revenge by Ogawa Yoko, as in some ways reading the chapters it feels like that they could be read as individual short stories that make up the whole novel, perhaps with Revenge the book is more thematically arranged and here it's more concentrated on character. That said, as much as the central character is the rather enigmatic Nishino-san, womaniser or socially awkward?, there's the balance that the book is equally presenting ten chapters exploring the lives of the ten women who fall in and out of love with him. The prose in The Ten Loves of Mr Nishino is more straight forward story telling as compared to Hebi wo fumu . Over the ten chapters, there's a connection between a couple here, as well as being given portraits into the lives of the women, we take in the life of Nishino Yukihiko, it feels that we get snapshots of his life as the relationships with the ten women occur over various points of his life, and indeed slightly beyond. An aspect due for contemplation is in as much as the narrative tells us a little about Nishino, thinking about what we don't know is of equal interest.
Perhaps a striking element of the book is the amount of sex to it, not a massive amount maybe by other standards, but unsurprisingly it's central to most of the relationships which somehow is an interesting comparison to make with media reports that Japan is becoming increasingly sexless, or has issues with sex, perhaps this is mere media hyperbole, and maybe the book appeared before this recent social observation took hold, or came into fashion.
Through out the prose feels pitch perfect, there are moments of harshness and softness from character to character, it's not until perhaps the chapter Grapes that Nishino comes under the harsher criticism, and in the previous chapter Marimo, Kawakami finishes of the chapter with a poignant scene of dimming sunlight and the encounter with Nishino coming to an end for Sayuri Sasaki, who it feels is caught in a loveless marriage and perhaps in a single statement after meeting Nishino at an Energy Saving Cooking Club sums up the slightly pitiable Nishino - 'I forgave Nishino his past, I forgave Nishino his present and I forgave Nishino his eternalfuture'.
A quick share of a post from Spoon & Tamago, mainly for my own reference and perhaps your own interest, about a new exhibition of works by the artist and poet Kaita Murayama, which marks the centenary of his passing. Featuring previously unseen works.
Set to be published in translation imminently is the 2016 best selling novel by Natsu Miyashita, The Forest of Wool andSteel received the Japan Booksellers Award and has in 2018 appeared in a film adaption directed by Kojiro Hashimoto.
The main protagonist, Tomura, a high school student hears the sound of a piano being tuned which evokes the forest that surrounds the small town of the novel's setting. Having not read the novel as of yet the story feels very much to be one that sees the centeal character as he confronts the challenges and obstacles of pursuing your true calling. Although not being able to see much information about the translator on various websites, I'm pretty certain it's by Philip Gabriel, both the film and the novel I'm looking forward to catching up with.