Friday, January 05, 2007

Japan Challenge

Last year, I never stated it officially, but a personal challenge of mine for the year was to read a book a month by a Japanese author (in English translation). I did read 9 in 2006 but I thought by putting it out there, like Kailana's Canada Challenge, it would help keep me on track this year. So, again I'm aiming for a book a month or a total of 12 for the year.
The following are the unread Japanese books I already have:

Rashomon and other stories – Ryunosuke Akutagawa
The Elephant Vanishes – Haruki Murakami
Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami
The Silent Cry – Kenzaburo Oe
I am a Cat – Natsume Soseki
The Makioka Sisters – Junichiro Tanizaki

Goodbye Tsugumi – Banana Yoshimoto
Shipwrecks – Akira Yoshimura

(Tale of Genji – Murasaki Shikibu)- I attempted it last year but lost steam and set it aside because I'd rather wait until I'm ready for it than force myself through it. I contemplated it for the Chunkster Challenge, but I decided that I'm not quite ready to try again. Someday though, someday.

Since I only have 8 on hand, that also gives me license to buy more! Logical, no?

Update: (February 23, 2007)
I forgot about a short book I bought at the used book store a couple of months ago, plus last week I picked up 2 more Japanese books:

The bridegroom was a dog - Yoko Tawada
Snow Country - Yasunari Kawabata
All She Was Worth - Miyuki Miyabe


  1. It's awfully hard for some of us to get through a book as thick as The Tale of Genji (sp?), Nat. I can understand why you set that aside. I Am a Cat really intimidates me, too. I love reading about the Canadian and Japanese titles you choose.

    BTW, I'm still having terrible trouble loading pages, so I'm writing from a coffee house with free wireless. It's so cool; there's a man playing guitar and people are happiliy chattering - what atmosphere. I wish I could afford to drink coffee and type here every day! LOL Good luck on your reading!

  2. Wow, Tanabata, you have lots on your plate, lots of challenges. Good luck with all your worthwhile goals. Your lists of books in your last several posts makes me drool. So many intriguing titles.

  3. bookfool - Tale of Genji isn't easy reading either so yes, set aside, but not forgotten. I am a Cat is also pretty big. Maybe I should've tried to find it as the 3 separate volumns to make it less scary.
    I love hanging out in cosy coffeeshops too. :)

    booklogged - I've probably bitten off more than I can chew but I figured it would help keep me focused, and I'm not going to punish myself if I don't finish them all. I'm trying to look at them as inspiration.
    As for the titles, sorry I was lazy and didn't do Amazon links for them.

  4. Great challenge. I read Shipwrecks several years ago and absolutely loved it. It was chilling. I've read two Murakami novels and keep meaning to read more. I love his style. Good luck with your challenge.

  5. Purchase extras...just in case of course! I look forward to reading your thoughts on these books!


  6. Iliana - Thank you. I don't think I've heard anyone comment on Shipwrecks before. You're making me want to start it right away!

    Heather - but of course! :P

  7. Some suggestions considering this is my area of ultimate passion and obsession:

    Kawabata's SNOW COUNTRY or MASTER OF GO are great choices. He was the teacher of MISHIMA, Yukio who wrote many books. I would suggest his Sea of Fertility or my all time favorite THE SOUND OF WAVES.

    THE BROKEN COMMANDMENT by Shimazaki Toson discusses the eta in Japan. I have read that one twice.

    Finally, SHANGHAI was a great book about Japanese during the occupation.

    I loved the Silent Cry although I will warn you it is as dense as Lolita but I think that you would love it. Also, I have Tanizaki's M. Sisters to read for my TBR Challenge this year so lets compare notes. I have read 2 other great book by him: THE DIARY and SOME PREFER NETTLES (I loved the latter so much I wrote a huge paper on it.)

    Enjoy and I love your idea to do a nation per year. Thats great!

  8. anatawa nihongowo hanasemasuka.

  9. You are not going to be at a loss for book ideas this year! Thanks for the list of Japanese authors! I want to read more international fiction, and was thinking I would like to read something by someone Japanese.

  10. Nessie - thank you for all the great recommendations. I'll be coming back to them when I next go shopping for Japanese books.
    As for the nihongo, only a very little. I'm a bad student and haven't really put much effort into it, although I would like to. One of those vicious circle things.

    Danielle - you're very right about that, I've plenty to choose from. Some of these books, that I've chosen for the various challenges, have been around here for ages though so it'll be great to finally get some of them read.

  11. This is an excellent blog... thanks for listing mine! I will definately come back to read more! Great job! Haruki Murakami is one of my favorite authors. I met him in 1998.

  12. jcr - cool that you met Haruki Murakami! What was he like?

  13. Oooo, im a Murakami fan too. The Elephant Vanishes has my favourite ever short story in it, the one with the 100% compatible couple.... enjoy!

  14. j-ster, I'll look out for that one for sure. Looking forward to reading them.


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