Friday, 10 January 2020

Careless by Hiroko Oyamada

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.

Reading history - 2019

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

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

books for the reading diary - 2020

A list in progress of books I'm looking forward to -


The Chronicles of Lord Asunaro - Hanawa Kanji trans. Meredith McKinney Red Circle


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


The Swamp - Tsuge Yoshiharu trans. Ryan Holmberg - Drawn and Quarterly 


The Running Boy and Other Stories - Megumu Sagisawa trans. Tyran Grillo - Cornell University Press


Breasts and Eggs - Kawakami Mieko trans. Sam Bett David Boyd - Picador
A Man - Hirano Keiichiro trans. Eli K.P William - Amazon Crossing


Echo on the Bay - Masatsugu Ono trans. Angus Turvill - Two Lines Press


Sachiko - Endo Shusaku trans. Van C. Gessel Columbia University Press
People From My Neighbourhood - Kawakami Hiromi trans ? Granta (Amazon)

Reconciliation - Shiga Naoya trans. Ted Goosen - Canongate


Earthlings - Murata Sayaka trans. Ginny Tapley Takemori -  Granta


There's No Such Thing As An Easy Job - Kikuko Tsumura trans. Polly Barton - Bloomsbury 

Prefecture D: Four Novellas - Hideo Yokoyama trans. Jonathan Lloyd Davies 

Where the Wild Ladies Are - forthcoming

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'.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

The Ten Loves of Mr Nishino by Hiromi Kawakami

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 eternal future'.

Read the first chapter Parfait at Granta

The Ten Loves of Mr Nishino at Granta Books    

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Exhibition of Kaita Murayama

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.

Link here.

Monday, 28 January 2019

The Forest of Wool and Steel

Set to be published in translation  imminently is the 2016 best selling novel by Natsu Miyashita, The Forest of Wool and Steel 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.

The Forest of Wool and Steel at Penguin

for the film's website.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Love at Least

As Yukiko Motoya's Picnic In the Storm has recently been published in a translation by Asa Yoneda it seemed apt to give another of Motoya's books a mention. Yukiko Motoya has been awarded just about every major literary award in Japan so hopefully more of her writing will eventually be forthcoming in translation. Among the novels and plays of hers that have already seen adaption to film include Funuke Show Some Love, You Losers!, directed by Daihachi Yoshida, Third Window Films,  and also her play Vengeance Can Wait which has been translated into English by Andy Bragen and Kyoko Yoshida and is published by Samuel French, if you fancied giving that a read.

The film Love At Least directed by Kosai Sekine released last year is adapted from Motoya's novel from 2006, Ikiteru dake da, ai follows a couple as their relationship faces falling apart as Yasuko retreats into depression. Here is where I redirect you over to Mark Shilling's review over at the Japan Times. It's a movie I'd love to see and further more a novel that again hopefully might appear in translation, more spaces to watch eh?.

The Lonesome Bodybuilder translated by Asa Yoneda at Electric Literature.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Fumiko's Legs

In a slightly gratuitous bid to speed up the number of posts I thought it time to take a brief glance at some recent film adaptions of literary storys, maybe over the next week or so. First up is a film directed by Ueda Atsushi, Fumiko's Legs, from 2018 is an adaptation of Tanizaki's short story Fumiko no ashi which first appeared one hundred years ago in 1919. Although a quick glance on the Internet and shelves indicate that the story perhaps hasn't appeared in English translation, I'll be pleased to be proved wrong, the novella though has been translated into French and also Spanish, although a quick search over at Folio gives the impression that it too has slipped out of print in the French edition.

Through the trailer the story appears to display themes Tanizaki explored through his fictions, that of obsessive infatuation pursued to the extremities, centering around the painting of a portrait of Fumiko. I'm guessing it's doubtful that the film will ever see broader distribution in any way outside of the country, in spite of it looking an intriguing adaption.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Stand - in Companion by Kazufumi Shiraishi

Perhaps if you've recently finished Yoko Tawada's The Last Children of Tokyo and wanted to continue with a book that follows along some similar lines of enquiry that that novel traces, Stand-in Companion by Kazufumi Shiraishi recently published by Red Circle might be of interest. Part of their recent Minis series this short story was translated by Raj Mahtani who sadly passed away last year. Taking place over 43 pages or so the two main characters are Hayato and Yutori the narrative skips between present and past episodes and as the story begins to unfold comes the realization that the reader maybe dealing with a multiple of Hayato and Yutori, old and new, original and copy?. The initial dilemma the pair are facing is their inability to conceive, they turn to IVF and as the narrative curates their slip into dysfunction and separation, the reader is slowly immersed into a world of android stand-in's, when this occurs questions arise of how far is the story set in the future?, Shiraishi's story leaps us into a future where when relationships break down we can turn to a technology of convincingly accurate replacements as an alternative. The story dips into the ethics behind this new android/human world and also the logistics needed with memory transplantation into the replacement android being written into divorce settlements, the story posits a scenario that obviously may arise in the not too distant future. Stand-in Companion is a really compelling and cleverly constructed story that echoes the writings of Yoko Tawada and Tomoyuki Hoshino, a great introduction into the Red Circle Minis series, very much worth tracking down a copy.

Stand-in Companion at Red Circle