Japanese Novels in Translation

Discussion in 'Whatever' started by The Moog, Mar 21, 2023.

  1. The Moog

    The Moog Die-Cast

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    Japanese Novels in Translation
    I recently finished the second part of Lady Joker ...

    Some reviewers are comparing it to the TV show 'The Wire'. I can see what they're getting at ... it does have depth and is well written, but Lady Joker is fairly bleak and doesn't have the character based humour that The Wire had. Still, its a cracking read, and i would recommend it to anyone who enjoys intricate and highly detailed crime stories. It also serves as a fascinating window into Japanese society, like all the best novels to come out of Japan.

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  2. The Moog

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    Japanese Novels in Translation
    I bought this one for a quid on the weekend. Its a nice little fantasy book. Recommended.

    Blurb:
    Grandpa used to say it all the time: Books have tremendous power. But what is that power really?

    Natsuki Books was a tiny second-hand bookshop on the edge of town. Inside, towering shelves reached the ceiling, every one crammed full of wonderful books. Rintaro Natsuki loved this space that his grandfather had created. He spent many happy hours there, reading whatever he liked. It was the perfect refuge for a boy who tended to be something of a recluse.

    After the death of his grandfather, Rintaro is devastated and alone. It seems he will have to close the shop. Then, a talking tabby cat called Tiger appears and asks Rintaro for help. The cat needs a book lover to join him on a mission. This odd couple will go on three magical adventures to save books from people who have imprisoned, mistreated and betrayed them. Finally, there is one last rescue that Rintaro must attempt alone.


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  3. The Moog

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    Japanese Novels in Translation
    I've bought a few more recently, this one i've read. I really enjoyed it ...

    Blurb:

    It was raining when I arrived at the house. The walls of my room were lined with cat photos, set in fancy frames just below the ceiling.

    When her mother emigrates to China for work, twenty-year-old Chizu moves in with 71-year-old Ginko, an eccentric distant relative, taking a room in her ramshackle Tokyo home, with its two resident cats and the persistent rattle of passing trains. Living their lives in imperfect symmetry, they establish an uneasy alliance, stress tested by Chizu's flashes of youthful spite. As the four seasons pass, Chizu navigates a series of tedious part-time jobs and unsatisfying relationships, before eventually finding her feet and salvaging a fierce independence from her solitude.

    A Perfect Day to be Alone is a moving, microscopic examination of loneliness and heartbreak. With flashes of deadpan humour and a keen eye for poignant detail, Aoyama chronicles the painful process of breaking free from the moorings of youth.

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  4. bbb

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    Japanese Novels in Translation
    What a great thread! I'm going to pour through your recommendations and will definitely pick some up.

    I've read a couple of novels / short stories in the past few months that probably qualify.

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    The "Before The Coffee Gets Cold" series, by Toshikazu Kawaguchi. It's about a mysterious café that lets you jump through time (but you have to adhere to a comically long set of rules. How Japanese). I honestly think you only need to read the first, I stopped after the third because it was getting unbearably repetitive.

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    Kappa by Ryunosuke Akutagawa. It's short, impactful and clever. Compounded by the fact that Akutagawa killed himself after writing it, it's also quite haunting. "The story is narrated by a psychiatric patient who claims to have travelled to the land of the Kappa, a creature from Japanese folklore. Critical opinion has often been divided between those who regard it as a biting satire of Taishō Japan and those who see it as expression of Akutagawa's private agony."

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    Devils in Daylight by Junichiro Tanizaki. Another short but punchy thriller. It has elements of noir, Conan Doyle, and really messes with you at the end. It would make a great movie. "We meet our narrator, an author named Takahashi, after he’s worked through the night. He receives a call from a friend, Sonomura, imploring him to meet him later that evening. He knows when and thinks he knows where a murder is going to take place later that evening and he’d just love to see it happen: “It is not every day you have a chance to watch a murder happen, and it would be a terrible shame to miss it.”"
     
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  5. The Moog

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    Thanks for some interesting recommendations. I had no idea there were so many Kawaguchi books in that series!
     
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  6. The Moog

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    Recently published purchase, looking forward to reading it ....

    Blurb:
    Tokyo, 1960. As the first rays of morning light hit the rails at Kamata Station, a man’s body is found on the tracks. With only two leads – a distinctive accent and a single word, ‘kameda’ – senior inspector Imanishi Eitaro is called in to solve the puzzle.

    Setting aside his beloved bonsai and haikus, he must cross Japan in search of answers, from Osaka to Akita, accompanied by junior detective Yoshimura. At each new town, they encounter traces of the avant-garde Nouveau Group – young Tokyo artists who are bringing new ideas from the West. What to make of this modern collective? And how to stop another mysterious death occurring? Inspector Imanishi investigates…

    A fascinating glimpse into Japanese society at a time of great change, this is one of Seicho Matsumoto’s best-loved novels – a riveting mystery from the master of Japanese crime.

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