TRAVEL & LITERATURE: JAPAN
“REAL LITERATURE, LIKE TRAVEL, IS ALWAYS A SURPRISE” – Alison Lurie.
I hope this will be the first of many posts about Japanese literature. Today I would like to recommend you 6 books by Japanese authors or about Japan, that I have enjoyed reading lately and that are a great approach to the culture and tradition of this ancient country.
Ryunosuke Akutagawa: Rashömon and Seventeen Other Stories
This volume includes both famous and little-known works by Akutagawa (1892-1927), one of Japan’s foremost stylists. Some of his works are translated into English for the first time and reveal Akutagawa in a new light. The introduction is written by Haruki Murakami, who describes Akutagawa’s writing as “Spine tingling brilliance…. intuitive, natural- and beautiful”
Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
American writer Arthur Golden was educated at Harvard College, where he received a degree in art history specializing in Japanese Art. He also earned an M.A. in Japanese history from Columbia University. Memoirs of a Geisha was his brilliant debut novel that told with seamless authenticity and exquisite lyricism the true confessions of one of Japan’s most celebrated geisha.
Rudyard Kipling’s Japan: Collected Writings
Indian author Kipling visited Japan in 1889 and 1892. No other leading English literary figure of his day spent so long in that country or wrote so fully about it. This book (I have the Spanish version) is truly a gem.
Haruki Murakami: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage.
Murakami (Kioto, 1949) is probably one of the most renowned Japanese Authors. This is a beautiful novel about friendship, love and loneliness of those that have not yet found their place in this world. The book is an homage to Années de Pèlerinage, the 3 piano suites composed by Franz Liszt and dedicated to Italy and Switzerland.
Kenzaburō Ōe: A personal matter
Kenzaburō Ōe is a major figure in contemporary Japanese literature. Written in 1964, the novel is semi-autobiographical and dark in tone. It tells the story of Bird, a man who must come to terms with the birth of his mentally disabled son. It is a hard story and a superb novel about the difficulties of parenthood.
Kyoichi Katayama: Socrates in Love
If I am not wrong, this is the Japanese novel that has been most read of all time. The book has been adapted as a film in English-language with the title Crying Out Love, In the Center of the World, and has also inspired a tv drama version and a manga adaptation. It is a touching story about the love between Aki and Saku, and how death takes them to Australia.