Thursday, January 31, 2013

'The Briefcase' by Hiromi Kawakami

I ordered a copy of The Briefcase not too long before it was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize, but even if it hadn't been selected as a contender for the award, I knew I wanted to read it. Heck, I'm always interested to discover a new-to-me Japanese author but the story appealed to me as well.

From the back cover:
Tsukiko, thirty-eight, works in an office and lives alone. One night, she happens to meet one of her former high school teacher, "Sensei," in a local bar. Tsukiko had only ever called him "Sensei" ("Teacher"). He is thirty years her senior, retired, and presumably a widower. Their relationship - traced by Kawakami's gentle hints at the changing seasons - develops from a perfunctory acknowledgment of each other as they eat and drink alone at the bar, to an enjoyable sense of companionship, and finally into a deeply sentimental love affair.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

'The Diving Pool' by Yoko Ogawa

The Diving Pool is actually a collection of three novellas that were originally published in Japan around 1990: The Diving Pool (ダイヴィング・プール), Pregnancy Diary (妊娠 カレンダー), and Dormitory (ドミトリイ). Yoko Ogawa won the Akutagawa Prize for Pregnancy Diary in 1990.

From the publisher's website:
A lonely teenaged girl falls in love with her foster-brother as she watches him leap from a high diving board into a pool - an unspoken infatuation that draws out darker possibilities.

A young woman records the daily moods of her pregnant sister in a diary, but rather than a story of growth the diary reveals a more sinister tale of greed and repulsion.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge 2013

Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge

It's back! A couple of people asked me if I was going to revive the Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge this year, so for those of you with an ear fetish, a love of cats, or simply a fondness for the surreal, I do hope you'll join us. As always, it's very flexible and you can participate by reading just one book by Haruki Murakami this year, and even if you're new to Murakami, what better way to give one of his books a try? If you'd like to sign up for the challenge, just click through to the dedicated blog and add your name to the Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge 2013 Sign-up Post.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

January in Japan

Hey there! Remember me? I used to actually read books and talk about them here sometimes. I can't believe we've been living in the US for a year already. I really don't know where the time has gone but I think for me, 2012 will be remembered as my 'lost' year, at least where reading is concerned. Whatever it was, or wasn't, it was certainly a year filled with many adjustments, reverse culture shock, and everyday distractions, as we got used to life surrounded by palm trees and sunshine.

I must say thank you to those of you who have been "gently" nudging me back to blogging for several months now. I'm sorry it has taken me so long, but I do think I'm finally in a place where I'm ready to ease myself back in. Your continued support really means a lot to me.

January in Japan