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The Showa Anthology 2: Modern Japanese Short Stories 1961-1984

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These 25 stories, translated by almost as many scholars, mostly of the younger generation, and billed as the first collection of its kind to appear in over eight years, demonstrate not only that short fiction in Japan is alive and well but that it has adapted to the winds of change, notably in the form of war, foreign literary influence, and technology by cultivating its r These 25 stories, translated by almost as many scholars, mostly of the younger generation, and billed as the first collection of its kind to appear in over eight years, demonstrate not only that short fiction in Japan is alive and well but that it has adapted to the winds of change, notably in the form of war, foreign literary influence, and technology by cultivating its roots in tradition. Although some of the writers represented are well known in the West--for example, Nobel laureate Yasunari Kawabata; Osamu Dazai, a literary legend in Japan since his suicide in 1948; Kobo Abe ("scientific rationalist"); and Shusako Endo ("the Japanese Graham Greene")--most are little known outside Japan or hitherto untranslated, among them six women: one the daughter of Dazai, another described as having perhaps "the most fertile literary imagination in Japan today." There's a striking diversity of moods and modes, the narratives being variously lyric, comic, tragic, satiric, fantastic, and experimental. Some are gemlike exercises in the famous "I-novel" tradition; in others, strains of Stendhal, Sartre, and Kafka mingle with indigenous traditions going back to the 10th century. All of the stories shine, and each is a telling vignette of the human condition.


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These 25 stories, translated by almost as many scholars, mostly of the younger generation, and billed as the first collection of its kind to appear in over eight years, demonstrate not only that short fiction in Japan is alive and well but that it has adapted to the winds of change, notably in the form of war, foreign literary influence, and technology by cultivating its r These 25 stories, translated by almost as many scholars, mostly of the younger generation, and billed as the first collection of its kind to appear in over eight years, demonstrate not only that short fiction in Japan is alive and well but that it has adapted to the winds of change, notably in the form of war, foreign literary influence, and technology by cultivating its roots in tradition. Although some of the writers represented are well known in the West--for example, Nobel laureate Yasunari Kawabata; Osamu Dazai, a literary legend in Japan since his suicide in 1948; Kobo Abe ("scientific rationalist"); and Shusako Endo ("the Japanese Graham Greene")--most are little known outside Japan or hitherto untranslated, among them six women: one the daughter of Dazai, another described as having perhaps "the most fertile literary imagination in Japan today." There's a striking diversity of moods and modes, the narratives being variously lyric, comic, tragic, satiric, fantastic, and experimental. Some are gemlike exercises in the famous "I-novel" tradition; in others, strains of Stendhal, Sartre, and Kafka mingle with indigenous traditions going back to the 10th century. All of the stories shine, and each is a telling vignette of the human condition.

26 review for The Showa Anthology 2: Modern Japanese Short Stories 1961-1984

  1. 5 out of 5

    Smiley

    Disappointed and not able to read even one short story by Yukio Mishima, I simply had no choice but kept reading these relatively new stories to me since it was my first encounter with this handsome hardcover published in 1986. In point of fact that writing the reviews of all stories is beyond me, so I would focus only three authors whose stories I read, enjoyed and hopefully got some ideas worth sharing to my Goodreads friends so that they can find or borrow a copy to read and it is all right i Disappointed and not able to read even one short story by Yukio Mishima, I simply had no choice but kept reading these relatively new stories to me since it was my first encounter with this handsome hardcover published in 1986. In point of fact that writing the reviews of all stories is beyond me, so I would focus only three authors whose stories I read, enjoyed and hopefully got some ideas worth sharing to my Goodreads friends so that they can find or borrow a copy to read and it is all right if they might not agree with me. First, "Mulberry Child" by Minakami Tsutomu (translated by Anthony H. Chambers) introduced before the opening paragraph as "(it) demonstrates Minakami's characteristic blending of autobiographical elements with Buddhism and local color in a sweet-sad portrayal of the lives of the very poor in rural Japan" (p. 256) is only nine pages long, therefore, reading it should not be too tough. This story has revealed the other side of Japan, I mean how the poor live in remote places far away from modern ways of life, how they cope with their hardships and how they survive by means of local wisdom. One of the reasons is that, over the past three decades or more, we have heard/read a lot on Japan’s amazing developments in terms of her industry, economy, education, etc. I think my friends would love this story due to its countryside-oriented context, how a Japanese word, ‘Shaka Shaka’ involves in the story, and why such a child is related to mulberry. Second, “One Arm” by Kawabata Yasunari (translated by Edward Seidensticker) instantly reminds me of witnessing something surrealist, fantasy-oriented, robot-like in which, I think, its readers cannot help wondering how it exposes reality, what kind of message meant to communicate and why the author has gone a bit too far. For instance, “I can let you have one of my arms for the night,” said the girl. She took off her right arm at the shoulder, with her left hand, laid it on my knee. “Thank you.” I looked at my knee. The warmth of the arm came through. … (p. 267) Or this one: “The window.” I noticed not that window itself was open but that the curtain was undrawn. “Will anything look in?” asked the girl’s arm. … (p. 273) Therefore, reading this story is like reading a science fiction depicting the narrator, the girl as well as the arm in an unimaginable highly-advanced future world. However, nowadays that can be produced via advanced animation in virtual reality. Third, “The Silent Traders” by Tsushima Yuko (translated by Geraldine Harcourt) having also nine pages is interestingly based on her life since she “gave birth to a daughter and son, and had what she describes as ”an ordinary divorce” in 1976”. (p. 400) When we reached this paragraph, we could visualize the unfriendly ‘wall’ between her children, herself and the man: On the day, he was an hour late for our appointment. The long wait in a coffee shop had made the children tired and cross, but when they saw the man a shy silence came over them. “Thanks for coming,” I said with a smile. I couldn’t think what to say next. He asked ”Where to?” and stood to leave at once. … The children kept their distance from the man and stared nonchalantly out of the window. We got off the train like that, and again he walked ahead. (p. 409) It was truly sad to read this episode evidenced by such a split family and unloving atmosphere; it was tough to take care of her two children and it seemed to readers the man, that is, her ex-husband did not care or behaved like a gentleman who was once in love with her and so he should have done her/his children an honour. I admired how she saw and understood the world in which she needed to live, keep going and raise her children. Thus, another point is impressively decisive and serenely learned: I don’t know when there will be another opportunity for the children to see the man. They may never meet him again, or they may have a chance two or three years from now. … He’s still on my mind in some obscure way. Yet there’s no point in confirming this feeling in words. Silence in essential. As long as we maintain silence, and thus avoid trespassing, we leave open the possibility of resuming negotiations at any time. (p. 410) As for the 11 stories that remain, I would like to leave them for other Goodreads friends/members to read and post their eventual reviews in the years to come.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sammi Curran

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kierstin Keyserling

  4. 4 out of 5

    Izzy

  5. 4 out of 5

    Serena

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jose Escobar

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dana

  8. 4 out of 5

    Uno

  9. 5 out of 5

    Melon109

  10. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jv

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cinnamon Tatham

  13. 5 out of 5

    BookDB

  14. 4 out of 5

    David

  15. 5 out of 5

    rêveur d'art

  16. 5 out of 5

    Josh Miles

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ili

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amy

  19. 5 out of 5

    Michaela Macháčková

  20. 4 out of 5

    Xia

  21. 5 out of 5

    Maxine Saylor

  22. 4 out of 5

    mark mendoza

  23. 5 out of 5

    F.Enjoy69

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cristina

  25. 5 out of 5

    Totemfilm

  26. 4 out of 5

    No

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