Friday, April 29, 2011

'The Silent Cry' by Kenzaburo Oe (JLit Book Group)

The Silent Cry by Kenzaburō Ōe
万延元年のフットボール (Man'en Gannen no Futtoboru)
First published in Japanese in 1967, English translation 1988
Translated from the Japanese by John Bester
Serpent's Tail trade paperback, 274 p.
Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1994
Two brothers, Takashi and Mitsu, return from Tokyo to the village of their childhood. The selling of their family home leads them to an inescapable confrontation with their family history. Their attempt to elude the influence of the city ends in failure as they realize that its tentacles extend to everything in the countryside, including their own relationship.

In 1994, Kenzaburo Ōe was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Singling out The Silent Cry, the Nobel Committee stated that 'his poetic force creates an imagined world, where life and myth condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament'.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Recent and current reads (so happy to be reading again!)

Oops. I didn't even get a chance to turn on my computer yesterday, but I still want to tell you about the books I've been reading now that my reading mojo has returned. As I mentioned, it was a good 5 weeks during which I didn't read much other than news articles and tweets about the triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami, and damaged nuclear power plant. The only thing I managed to read during that time, that wasn't related to what's been happening here, were a couple of manga.

The first one was Maoh: Juvenile Remix, Vol. 1. The main reason I decided to give this series a try is because it is written by Kotaro Isaka, the author of Remote Control which incidentally was the last book I'd finished before the earthquake. It was a fun ride of a thriller but unfortunately his other books don't seem to be available in English, except for this manga. So of course I was curious. The main character in Maoh is a high school student with the unusual ability of being able to make others say out loud what he's thinking. It seems like as the series progresses, he'll have to learn how to use this ability to stop a powerful man from taking control of their city. This first volume was mostly just the set-up, but there seems to be a lot going on and I'm curious to see where it will go from here.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday Salon: Life without reading

It's been ages since I've joined in the Sunday Salon but what better time to get back into it, than to celebrate the fact that my earthquake-induced reading slump seems to definitely be over! After the earthquake hit on March 11th, it was hard to concentrate on much else. Wouldn't you know, but it seems that the triple disaster, of earthquake, tsunami, and damaged nuclear power plant, are a little bit distracting, to say the least!

For the first week or so, if I was awake, I was basically glued to the internet and the TV, watching updates and trying to get as much information as I could. I couldn't even think of picking up a book. Then even after things began to settle down here in Tokyo, there were still daily distractions: blackouts, empty shelves in the stores, occasional aftershocks. I would bring a book with me most of the time, but I just couldn't read. Actually that's not entirely true. I was reading constantly, but it consisted primarily of tweets and news stories.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Guest post: The Courage to Be, by Jacob Ritari

It's my pleasure to share with you today a guest post from author, Jacob Ritari. You may remember that he shared some of his short stories with us last autumn, and has been an occasional guest here before. His debut novel, Taroko Gorge, was published last year and he's been studying Japanese here in Japan for the last several months. Here are some of his thoughts on last month's earthquake and the aftermath.

The Courage to Be

I’m in an odd position. Reporting here from the front lines in Yokohama, just south of Tokyo, I can only think of that Onion news report: “War Between India and Pakistan Entering Tense Sixtieth Year.” “How are people on the ground coping with this crisis?” the anchor asks his correspondent, who replies: “Well Bruce, mainly by growing old and dying of natural causes.”

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Earthquake update: One month later, and Hope Blossoms

Japan Earthquake 2011
Image © Bento Graphics

Well, we had a fairly strong aftershock on Thursday night, the strongest since the mega quake and tsunami last month. It was again centred near the north east coast of Japan and while it wasn't too bad here, it really shook up north. Luckily the tsunami advisory was soon lifted but I can't imagine how scary it must have been for the survivors. The March 11 quake was such a big rupture that they predict aftershocks and movement for many months, and Thursday night's was definitely a reminder that we can't be too complacent.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Hello Japan! April mini-challenge: Back to School

Hello Japan!
Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there is a new task which relates to some aspect of life in Japan. Anyone is welcome to join in any time. Everyone who completes the task will then be included in the drawing for that month's prize. For more information, just click on the Hello Japan! button above, or if you have any questions please feel free to email me at inspringthedawn AT gmail DOT com.

April's Topic

April 1st is the start of the new fiscal year. As such, it's a time when many recent graduates and young people enter companies to begin their working lives. It's also the beginning of the school year in Japan.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Hello Japan! mini-challenge: March links

Hello Japan!

Thank you to everyone who took part in the Hello Japan! mini-challenge for March. March was Manga Month and the task was to celebrate manga however you chose to. It was fun to read about everyone's manga adventures, and in some cases, reminiscences. Click on the links below to visit everyone's posts.