Thursday, 5 October 2017

#WorldReads - Five Books From Japan

If this is your first visit to my WorldReads blog series, the idea of the posts is to encourage and promote the reading of global literature. On the 5th of each month I highlight five books I have read from a particular country and you can see links to previous countries' posts at the end of this post.

This month's country is Japan! Despite being famous for being a closed society for generations, Japanese literature has historically been deeply influenced by Chinese writing with many early Japanese works actually written in classical Chinese. Japanese authors were also influenced, by way of the spread of the Buddhist religion, by Indian cultures and ideas. My featured books include short story collections, novels and an important memoir.



Revenge by Yoko Ogawa

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There is nothing excessive or extraneous in Ogawa's writing. Every word is precise, restrained and elegant yet she manages to conjure up memorably haunting and gruesome images out of initially everyday situations. I love the interlinking of these eleven short stories which often hinges on a seemingly insignificant detail.

Read my original review on Literary Flits (from noon)



The Miner by Natsume Sōseki

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In my ignorance of classic Japanese literature I didn't realise before reading this book that Soseki is one of their lauded authors - although apparently The Miner, an experimental work, is often excluded from his collected writings. I think this is a shame. It is certainly an odd novel, but I enjoyed reading it especially as its unusual structure was unpredictable and the imagery is superb.

Read my original review on Stephanie Jane



The Stationmaster by Jiro Asada

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I loved every one of these stories. There is a strong sense of traditional and changing Japanese culture through them all, but I had no problem understanding the stories, their undercurrents and meanings. The characters' predicaments are universal with the plots revolving around ordinary people coping with aging, work pressures or fragmenting relationships.

Read my original review on Literary Flits



My Nuclear Nightmare: Leading Japan through the Fukushima Disaster to a Nuclear-Free Future by Naoto Kan


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In this memoir Naoto Kan smashes the myths of 'safe' and 'cheap' nuclear power. Neither concept is based in reality and his insights into how easily it can all go horrifically wrong were chilling to read, especially when I considered that this all happened in Japan - a prosperous nation with a strong technological background.

Read my original review on Literary Flits



The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide

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I am not sure how much this book would appeal to non-cat lovers and have even seen reviews complaining that the cat does not have enough of a starring role. The Guest Cat isn't really about the cat per se. For me it was more a thoughtful prose-poem about friendship and love, about finding a place that feels like home, and about living quietly with the passing of the seasons and finding joy in small events.

Read my original review on Literary Flits


That's it for October's WorldReads from Japan. I hope I have tempted you to try reading a book from this country and if you want more suggestions, click through to see all my Literary Flits reviews of Japanese-authored books! Please do Comment your own favourite Japanese books below and if you fancy buying any of the five I have suggested, clicking through the links from this blog to do so would mean I earn a small commission payment.

If you missed any earlier WorldReads posts, I have already 'visited' America, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, ItalyNew Zealand, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.
In November I will be highlighting five books by Norwegian authors. See you on the 5th to find out which ones!

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