Friday, July 31, 2009

Celebrating Japanese Literature

Yesterday Bellezza announced the start of the Japanese Literature Challenge 3 and there was absolutely no doubt that I'd be joining in again this year. [Click on the link above or the button for more info]. Even though I've already set myself a perpetual challenge to read more Japanese books, I love the camaraderie of reading along with the other participants and hearing what everyone is reading, so this is one of my favourite challenges and one that I look forward to each year. This year Bellezza has made it super easy on us, requiring us to read only one book! But I have so many that I still want to read that I plan on reading as many as I can get to.

I could probably just direct you to my Reading Japan TBR List, as I do want to read all of them, but these are some of the ones that for one reason or another have worked their way to the top of the pile.

Beyond the Blossoming Fields - Jun'ichi Watanabe
Paprika - Yasutaka Tsutsui
The Sound of Waves - Yukio Mishima (1001*)
Thousand Cranes - Yasunari Kawabata (1001)
Beauty and Sadness - Yasunari Kawabata
Polite Lies: On Being a Woman Caught Between Cultures - Kyoko Mori (NF)
A Pale View of Hills - Kazuo Ishiguro (1001)
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman - Haruki Murakami
The Diving Pool - Yoko Ogawa
The Ocean in the Closet - Yuko Taniguchi
Shipwrecks - Akira Yoshimura
Goodbye Tsugumi - Banana Yoshimoto
Be With You - Takuji Ichikawa

Plus the one I started last night.
Goodbye Madame Butterfly: Sex, Marriage and the Modern Japanese Woman by Sumie Kawakami (NF)
And the two I just ordered yesterday. (Oops! But I decided I just had to have them!)
The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter - Retold by Yasunari Kawabata (1001)
Real World - Natsuo Kirino

*These titles are on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die List (2008 edition).

One of the reasons I'm particularly interested in reading about Japan is, as you know, because I'm currently living in this strange, fascinating land, and have even married one of the locals! I've been wanting to focus a little more on Japanese books here on my blog for a while, so in conjunction with the Japanese Literature challenge, and as part of my own Reading Japan Project, I'm dedicating most of my left sidebar to Japanese literature for the rest of the year, at least. Ideally I'd like to keep a Japanese flavour to my blog for the foreseeable future, although of course I will be reading and talking about plenty of non-Japanese books too. Like for my Reading Japan Project, the majority of the titles will be by Japanese authors, but I also enjoy reading books about Japan by non-Japanese authors, some of which I think are worth mentioning as well. A list of all the books I've read so far can be found by clicking on the Reading Japan tab above. I'll be adding more books to the sidebar as I go along, but for now I have 3 Reading Japan sections (just scroll down past Reviews Pending):
Fantastic Fiction - Japanese literature that I've read, and enjoyed.
Notable Non-Fiction - Books about Japanese culture, society, etc. that I've read and found enlightening.
The TBR Pile - The Japanese-related books on my shelves waiting to be read. Most of the ones listed above that I hope to read for the challenge can be found here.

I'd also like to have a regular Featured Book, which I've added to the upper right sidebar, just below the quote. These will be those Japanese books that I've especially enjoyed and want to either remind you of or bring to your attention. I haven't received any solicitation to promote these particular books, these are just books I think deserve notice and is simply a feature I thought would be a nice addition to my blog. However, if any publishers have Japanese titles they'd like me to showcase, get in touch and we'll see if it's something that I think would be of interest.

So I hope you'll be able to find some good Japanese literature titles here over the next few months, and beyond. I still want to tweak a few things but let me know what you think of the new features and if there's anything else you'd like to see. And I hope you'll consider joining in the challenge. Thanks so much for hosting again Bellezza. I'm looking forward to reading some great Japanese literature together!


  1. Your button is gorgeous by the way--very enticing (as if I wasn't already going to sign up). I have Goodbye Tsugumi on my list as well--really looking forward to it!

  2. I love that you'll be focusing on Japanese Literature more. I look forward to more great recommendations from you :D

  3. As I read your beautiful post, I'm thinking, "Tanabata should be the one hosting this challenge!" You have such a strong knowledge base about this genre, and you're just an inspiration to me about living overseas (as I loved living in Germany). The eastern culture is a great fascination to me...

    The last time I was here I added several books from your pile to the suggested books for the JLC3, but now I can see I need to add even more! Thanks, Tanabata, for the beautiful button, the great list of books, and being my friend.

  4. I always find such great Japanese fiction from you. I didn't know Paprika was in book form, I loved the movie and will definitely have to check this out.

    Hope you're doing well, by the way. :)

    ~ Popin

  5. Interesting list. Most of these are new to me and I just might enjoy many of these myself. Real World is somewhat disturbing but I was impressed by its writing. I know Out is good but I just might skip that one. I'm curious how Kirino's short stories are like. I hope they release an English-translated collection of her works :)

    Enjoy your readings!

  6. A first time visitor here, there's so much to enjoy here, and wonderful (sounding) titles to scribble on my "bookstore" list. Will be back,thanks!

  7. I'm excited by this one too. I joined the previous so late last I only got a couple of books read. i can't believe we only have to read one-I can do that in my sleep. I recently acquired a copy of Shipwrecks and can't wait to read it.
    The two Kawabata you have listed and The Diving Pool interest me. I'm so glad you'll be featuring Japanese lit more than ever. I look forward to your reviews. Thanks for stopping by, I knew you would eventually. :)

  8. Trish - Thanks. Glad you like the button, and that you're joining in the challenge. We'll have to compare thoughts on Goodbye Tsugumi!

    Nymeth - Well, I'm always getting great recommendations from you too! I'm glad though that people are interested in hearing about Japanese literature. :)

    Bellezza - Aww, thanks, and you're welcome! But really it's your enthusiasm that makes the challenge. :)
    I'm really looking forward to reading more Japanese literature over the next few months.

    Popin - Well, I didn't know that Paprika was a movie so there ya go! :P
    And thanks, I'm doing ok. Moving sure disrupted things for a while but I'm slowly getting back into things. Hope you're well too. I'll stop by soon.

    Mark David - Yes, Out was pretty disturbing, but well written, so it sounds like Real World might have the same 'flavour' to it. I hope they translate more of her work too!

    Oh - Welcome! I'm glad to have you stop by, and hope you'll find some good reads here.

    Sandra - I've had Shipwrecks for a while so I'm looking forward to finally reading it.
    Sorry it took me so long to stop by, but you're absolutely right, whenever I get behind I will always get there eventually. :)

  9. I look forward to your reviews. I am going to be reading some that you recommended to me the other day in the meantime.

  10. Kailana - I look forward to hearing what you think of them. I hope you enjoy them! :)


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