Episode 29: The Stories of Studio Ghibli

Check out Episode 29 of the Read Literature podcast.

Transcript available.

To celebrate the overseas release of The Boy and the Heron (aka How Do You Live?) RJL delves into the stories that inspire animator Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, especially

  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
  • Howl’s Moving Castle
  • My Neighbor Totoro

We’ll end with a deep dive into Kiki’s Delivery Service—the Ghibli film and the novel by Eiko Kadano.

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Support this podcast by buying from Bookshop.org.

Sources of Ghibli Films Available in English:

Sources of Ghibli Films Not Available in English:

  • The Age of the Flying Boat (manga) by Hayao Miyazaki
  • From Up on Poppy Hill (manga), written by Tetsurō Sayama and illustrated by Chizuru Takahashi
  • Nono-chan (manga) by Hisaichi Ishii
  • Ocean Waves by Saeko Himuro
  • Only Yesterday (manga) by Hotaru Okamoto and Yuko Tone.
  • Whisper of the Heart (manga) by Aoi Hiiragi
  • The Wind Rises (manga) by Hayao Miyazaki

Inspirations for Ghibli Films (or Their Titles):

This episode also mentions:

*This books only appear in the bonus content available to Patreon supporters.

Find Out More

Jonny Tiernan provides a brief history of “Studio Ghibli: The Japanese Animation Powerhouse That Conquered the World”, 2022.

A thorough history of Studio Ghibli based on “Studio Ghibli’s now-defunct English website” at Nausicaa.net.

Yisala Alvarez Trentini breaks down the case: “Is (My Neighbor) Totoro the God of Death?” at Medium, 2016. Studio Ghibli has denied the claim. And personally, I think the fan theory is bunk. 

Leah Schnelback explains why “Studio Ghibli’s Double Feature of Grave of the Fireflies and My Neighbor Totoro Was a Terrible Idea”—but also considers why it wasn’t at Tor.com, 2017. Take a special look at the section on “Are My Neighbor Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies in Conversation?”, which is excellent.

My review of How Do You Live? in The Asian Review of Books, 2021.

How Do You Live: The Classic Story That Inspired Hayao Miyazaki” by Keiko Sainowaki at Nippon.com, 2023.

Penguin UK explains “How a Once-Banned Japanese Children’s Book Became a Classic—and the Next Studio Ghibli Film”, 2021. Although the title is no longer correct, the article is still informative.

My review of Akira Mizubayashi’s Fractured Soul in the Asian Review of Books, 2023.

Unseen Japan’s (spoiler free) report on The Boy and the Heron, 2023.

Eiko Kadano’s official website. Japanese language.

My review of Kiki’s Delivery Service in The Asian Review of Books, 2020.

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Japanese Literature at Goodreads

Other RJL Episodes of Interest:

Sources

Clements, Jonathan. “Birthday Wonderland” at All the Anime, 2019. (free)

Fedman, David. “The Scorched-Earth Generation” at lareviewofbooks.org, 2016. (free)

Fincher, Alison. “‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ by Kadono Eiko” at Asian Review of Books, 2020. (free)

Greenberg, Raz. “Giri and Ninjo: The Roots of Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ in Animated Adaptations of Classic Children’s Literature” in Literature/Film Quarterly, 2012.

“How a Once-Banned Japanese Children’s Book Became a Classic—and the Next Studio Ghibli Film” at Penguin.co.uk, 2021. (free)

Japanese Board on Books for Young People. Eiko Kadono: 2018 H. C. Andersen Award Nominee from Japan, 2016. (free)

Jones, Diana Wynne. Howl’s Moving Castle. Greenwillow Books, 1986.

Kadano Eiko and Emily Balistrieri. “The Magic of Translation: Interviewing Kiki’s Delivery Service Author Eiko Kadono and Translator Emily Balistrieri”. Interview by Elyse Martin at Tor.com, 2020. (free)

Macdonald, Christopher. “Today in History: Kiki’s Delivery Service” at Anime News Network, 2014. (free)

Matsuzaka Mitsuko. “About Kadono’s Majo no takkyubin [Kiki’s Delivery Service] in Eiko Kadono: 2018 H. C. Andersen Award Nominee from Japan. Japanese Board of Books for Children, 2016.

Miyazaki, Goro. “Goro Miyazaki’s Blog Translation” at Nausicaa.net, 2006. (free)

Miyazaki Hayao. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Deluxe Edition, vols. 1-2. Translated by Dana Lewis and Toren Smith, Viz, 2022. 

–. Starting Point: 1979-1996. Translated by Beth Cary and Frederick L. Schodt, Viz, 2014.

Nogami Akira. “Recommendation of Eiko Kadono for the Hans Christian Andersen Award” in Eiko Kadono: 2018 H. C. Andersen Award Nominee from Japan. Japanese Board of Books for Children, 2016.

Ross, Deborah. “Miyazaki’s Little Mermaid: A Goldfish Out of Water” in Journal of Film and Video, 2014.

Napier, Susan. Miyazakiworld: A Life in Art. Yale, 2019.

Oscow, Noah. “Ghibli President Says No Trailers for New Miyazaki Film” at Unseen Japan, 2023. (free)

–. “Miyazaki Already Brainstorming New Film Post-The Boy and the Heron” at Unseen Japan, 2023. (free)

Roedder, Alexandra. “The Localization of Kiki’s Delivery Service” in Mechademia, 2014.

Schnelback, Leah. “Studio Ghibli’s Double Feature of Grave of the Fireflies and My Neighbor Totoro Was a Terrible Idea” at Tor.com, 2017. (free)

Tiernan, Jonny. “Studio Ghibli: The Japanese Animation Powerhouse That Conquered the World” at Linearity, 2022. (free)

Episode 28: Haruki Murakami

Check out Episode 28 of the Read Literature podcast.

Transcript available.

In this episode, we’re talking about one of the most important voices in modern Japanese literature, Haruki Murakami.

  • His biography
  • Why so many people have such strong feelings about his writing
  • And his short story “TV People”

We’ll end with what I like best about this much loved (and much hated) author.

Become an RJL supporter for 15 minutes of bonus content.

Support this podcast by buying from Bookshop.org.

More by Haruki Murakami:

The New Yorker’s complete list of Murakami stories available to read on their website. Free, but with a view limit.

This episode also mentions:

Find Out More

Murakami’s official English-language website.

Tokyo Weekender’s “List of 7: The Best Haruki Murakami Novels”, 2023. Compiled by Matthew Hernon.
Gitte Marianne Hansen on “How to Read Haruki Murakami the Japanese Way”, 2023. Via The Conversation.

Charmaine Esmerelda writes about Haruki Murakami’s cover art, including work by John Gall featured on the art for this RJL episode, 2020. Via Medium.

Kaori Shoji explains why Murakami is still worth reading. Via the Japanese Subculture Research Center, 2022.

Murakami on “The Moment [He] Became a Novelist”, 2015. Via LitHub. Translated by Ted Goossen.

Read Japanese Literature writes about “Aum Anxiety” in contemporary Japanese fiction, with a special focus on the work of Haruki Murakami, 2021.

Deep Dive Japan Podcast takes up “Haruki Murakami’s New Novel”, 2023. Podcast episode + transcript. 33 minutes. Morales serves as the Murakami expert, and you can find more of his work at howtojapanese.com.

Scott Spencer of Nihongobookreview.com discusses the not-yet-translated The City and Its Uncertain Walls, 2023.

Haruki Murakami and Mieko Kawakami discuss Murakami’s female characters, 2017—translated into English in 2020. Via LitHub. Translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd.

RJL looks at Murakami’s Killing Commendatore, 2020.

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Japanese Literature at Goodreads

Other RJL Episodes of Interest:

Sources

Buruma, Ian. “Becoming Japanese” in The New Yorker, 1996. (free, article limit)

Buchanan, Rowan Hisayo. “Who You’re Reading When You Read Haruki Murakami” in The Atlantic, 2020. (free)

Chilton, Myles. “Realist Magic and the Invented Tokyos of Murakami Haruki and Yoshimoto Banana” in Journal of Narrative Theory, 2009.

Fincher, Alison. “Aum Anxiety” at ReadJapaneseLiterature.com, 2021. (free)

–. “Killing Commendatore; or, What the Hell Is a Double Metaphor” at ReadJapaneseLiterature.com, 2020. (free)

Gordon, Andrew. A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present, 4th ed. OUP, 2019.

Hutchinson, Rachel and Leith Morton. “Introduction” in Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese Literature, ed. Rachael Hutchinson and Leith Morton, 2016.

Kahan, Kim. “Fighting for Modern Japan: The University Protests of 1968-69” at Tokyo Weekender, 2023. (free)

Karashima, David. Who We’re Reading When We’re Reading Murakami. Soft Skull, 2020.

Kelts, Roland. “The Harukists, Disappointed” in The New Yorker, 2012. (free, article limit)

Harding, John Wesley. “Haruki Murakami” (Interview) at Bombsite, 1994. (free via Web Archive)

Morales, Daniel, Patrick St. Michel, and Shaun McKenna. “Haruki Murakami’s New Novel. Plus, Allegations Resurgence in J-Pop” at Deep Dive: Looking Beneath the Surface of Japan (podcast episode transcript), 2023. (free)

Murakami Haruki. “Abandoning a Cat” (translated by Philip Gabriel) in The New Yorker, 2019. (free, article limit)

Murakami Haruki. “Haruki Murakami: The Moment I Became a Novelist” (translated by Ted Goossen) at LitHub, 2015. (free)

Murakami Haruki. “Introduction” in The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories, ed. Jay Rubin, Penguin, 2020.

Murakami Haruki. “TV People” (translated by Alfred Birnbaum) in The Elephant Vanishes. Vintage, 1993.

Murakami Haruki. “A Walk to Kobe” (translated by Philip Gabriel) at Granta, 2013. (free)

–. “Speaking as an Unrealistic Dreamer” (translated by Emanuel Pastreich) at The Asia-Pacific Journal, 2011. (free)

Murakami Haruki and Maik Grossekathöfer. “When I Run I Am in a Peaceful Place: Interview with Haruki Murakami” at Spiegel, 2008. (free via Web Archive)

Murakami Haruki and John Wesley Harding. “Haruki Murakami (interview)” at BOMB Magazine, 1994. (free via Web Archive)

Murakami Haruki and Mieko Kawakami. “A Feminist Critique of Murakami’s Novels, with Murakami Himself” (interview.” Translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd, at LitHub, 2020. (free)

Murakami Haruki and Deborah Treisman. “The Underground Worlds of Haruki Murakami” in The New Yorker, 2019. (free, article limit)

Murakami Haruki and John Wray. “Haruki Murakami, The Art of Fiction No. 182” in The Paris Review, 2004. (free)

Murakami Haruki, Yutaka Yukawa, and Tetsuro Koyama. “Darkness and Forgiveness: Haruki Murakami Reflects on Power and Violence in the World and Literature” in The Japan Times, 2019.

Naparstek, Ben. “The Lone Wolf” in The Age, 2006. (free)

Napier, Susan J. “The Magic of Identity: Magic Realism in Modern Japanese Fiction” in Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Edited by Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris, Duke UP, 1995.

Oe Kenzaburo. “Japan’s Dual Identity: A Writer’s Dilemma” in World Literature Today, 1988.

Rubin, Jay. Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words. Random House, 2002.

Shoji Kaori. “Driving in Winter with Haruki Murakami” at Japanese Subculture Research Center, 2022. (free)

Snider, Grant. “Murakami Bingo” in The New York Times, 2014. (free, article limit)

Spencer, Scott. “街とその不確かな壁 (‘The City And Its Uncertain Walls’)” at Nihongobookreview.com, 2023. (free)

Spencer, Scott. “村上春樹はノーベル賞をとれるのか? (‘Could Haruki Murakami Get the Nobel Prize?’)” at Nihongobookreview.com, 2021. (free)

Spencer, Scott. “村上春樹{訳}: 短篇再読 (‘Haruki Murakami As Translator: A Second Look At The Short Stories’)” at Nihongobookreview.com, 2017. (free)

Stretcher, Matthew Carl. Dances with Sheep: The Quest for Identity in the Fiction of Murakami Haruki, U of MI, 2002. (free via Open Access)

Updike, John. “Subconscious Tunnels: Haruki Murakami’s Dreamlike New Novel” in The New Yorker, 2005. (free, article limit)

Vasile, Adelina. “Cat Imagery in Haruki Murakami’s Fiction” in Analele Universitatii Crestine Dimitrie Cantemir, Seria Stiintele Limbii,Literaturii si Didactica predarii, 2012. (free)

Yamaguchi, Mari. “Murakami’s 1st Novel in 6 Years to Hit Stores in April” at APNews.com, 2023. (free)

Williams, Richard. “Marathon Man” in The Guardian, 2003. (free)

Episode 27: Japanese Children’s Literature

Check out Episode 27 of the Read Literature podcast.

Transcript available.

In this episode, we’re talking about Japanese children’s literature.

  • The history of children’s literature in general
  • The history of children’s literature in Japan
  • And Sachiko Kashiwaba and Temple Alley Summer—a story that is about Japanese children’s literature (at least a little bit!)

Become an RJL supporter for 20 minutes of bonus content.

Support this podcast by buying from Bookshop.org.

More by Sachiko Kashiwaba:

RJL’s list of Japanese children’s books in English translation.

This episode also mentions:

*These stories are only mentioned in the extended version of the episode available to Patreon supporters.

Find Out More

“Through the Looking Glass: Has Children’s Books Have Grown Up” at NPR, 2016.

The official website of the Newbery Medal.

The National Diet Library’s Japanese Children’s Literature: A History from the International Children’s Literature Collections. In English.

The Freer-Sackler Library’s collection of Illustrated Japanese books.

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCWBI) Japan’s Blog

A list of “One Hundred Japanese Books for Children (1868-1945”) from the International Institute for Children’s Literature, Osaka. In English.

On How Do You Live?—”How a Once-Banned Japanese Children’s Book Became a Classic… and the Next Studio Ghibli Film”, 2021. Note that Studio Ghibli’s move turned out to be completely unrelated to the novel, which is nevertheless worth reading.

My review of How Do You Live? in the Asian Review of Books, 2021.

“A Japanese Author, Her Translator, a New Classic” at Kirkus, 2021. Laura Simeon interviews Sachiko Kashiwaba and Avery Fischer Udagawa.

The Japan Foundation New York Presents a Conversation with Kashiwaba Sachiko and Avery Fischer Udagawa, 2021. English and Japanese.

“Interviews with Tomo Contributors Author Sachiko Kashiwaba and Translator Avery Fischer Udagawa” at the Tomo Blog, 2012.

My review of Temple Alley Summer in the Asian Review of Books.

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Japanese Literature at Goodreads

Other RJL Episodes of Interest:

Sources

Allen, Celeste. “‘Alice in Wonderland’ Changed Literature Forever, by Not Trying to Teach Kids, Just Entertain Them” at Timline.com, 2017. (free)

Copeland, Rebecca. Lost Leaves: Women Writers of Meiji Japan, U of HI Press, 2000.

–, ed. Women Critiqued: Translated Essays on Japanese Women’s Writing, U of HI Press, 2006.

Doppo Kunikida. “On Women and Translation” in Women Critiqued: Translated Essays on Japanese Women’s Writing. Rebecca Copeland, ed. U of HI Press, 2006.

Frustuck, Sabine and Anne Walthall. “Introduction” in Multi-Sensory Histories of Children and Childhood in Japan, Sabine Frustuck and Anne Walthall, eds. UCA, 2017.

Grenby, M. O. “The Origins of Children’s Literature” at The British Library, 2014. (free)

Hewins, C. M. “The History of Children’s Books” in The Atlantic, 1888. (free)

Huffman, James L. Creating a Public: People and Press in Meiji Japan, University of Hawaii, 1997.

“Japanese Children’s Literature: A History from the International Library of Children’s Literature Collections.” National Diet Library, 2017. (free)

“Kashiwaba Sachiko” at SFE: The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, 2023. (free)

Kashiwaba Sachiko and Avery Fischer Udagawa. “JFNY Literary Series: Sachiko Kashiwaba x Avery Fischer Adagawa”, 2021. (free video)

Korniki, P. F. “Literacy Revisited: Some Reflections on Richard Rubinger’s Findings” in Monumenta Nipponica, 2001.

Mack, Edward. Manufacturing Modern Japanese Literature: Publishing, Prizes, and the Ascription of Literary Value. Duke, 2010.

Moretti, Laura. “Kanazoshi Revisited: The Beginnings of Japanese Popular Literature in Print” in Monumenta Nipponica, 2010.

Pinkerton, Byrd. Through the Looking Glass: How Children’s Books Have Grown Up. NPR, 2016. (free)

Rubinger, Richard. “From ‘Dark Corners’ into ‘The Light’: Literacy Studies in Modern Japan” in History of Education Quarterly, 1990.

Tolkien, J. R. R. “On Fairy-Stories” (1947). (free)

Treat, John Whittier. “Yoshimoto Banana Writes Home: Shojo Culture and the Nostalgic Subject” in The Journal of Japanese Studies, 1993.

Wakabayashi, Judy. “Foreign Bones, Japanese Flesh: Translations and the Emergence of Modern Children’s Literature in Japan” in Japanese Language and Literature, 2008.

Episodes 25 and 26: Translating Japanese to English, Parts 1 and 2

This episode page includes resources and bibliography for Translating Japanese to English Part 1 and Part 2. Listen to part 1. Listen to part 2.

Part 1 transcript available. Part 2 transcript available.

How does a book make it from the mind of a Japanese author into the hands of an English-language reader?

In this two-part episode, we’ll tackle the entire process—from book acquisition by a publisher, to pairing a book with a translator, to the actual process of translation. We’ll also talk about some of the ethical issues translation involves, all through the lens of Minae Mizumura’s An I-Novel, translated into English by Juliet Winters Carpenter.

Please note that part one mistakenly claims author Astrid Lindgren and her Pippi Longstocking series are Norwegian. They are Swedish.

Support this podcast by buying from Bookshop.org.

More Writing by Minae Mizumura:

Part 1 also mentions:

Part 2 also mentions:

Find Out More

Author Minae Mizumura’s English-language website.

My review of An I-Novel in Asian Review of Books (2021).

One Bright Book discusses An I-Novel. June 2023 podcast episode, because great minds think alike.

“Does Literature Have to Be Monolingual? Ellen Jones on Minae Mizumura’s An I-Novel and Multilingualism in Translation” at the CUP Blog (2021). This blog post includes a 13-page PDF preview of Carpenter’s translation.

Juliet Winters Carpenter talks about her career as a literary translator (2021). Video.

The official website of the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies.

Khairani Barokka’s “The Case Against Italicizing ‘Foreign’ Words at Catapult (2020).

The Japanese Literature Publishing Project.

Generation TF: Who Is Really Reading Translated Fiction in the UK at The Booker Prizes (2022).

“Which Japanese books Get Left Out of Translation” by Eric Margolis at Unseen Japan (2023). Publishers Weekly’s incomplete statistics lead Margolis to some false conclusions, but this is still a fascinating and informative article. (My apologies to Margolis. In the episode, I believe I have mispronounced his name and put the emphasis on the wrong syllable.)

Korean-to-English translator Anton Hur’s “Pitch Guide for Translators” (2023).

Spanish-to-English translator Sophie Hugh’s “Five Great Tips for Getting Started as a Literary Translator” at the National Centre for Writing (2020).

The PEN American Translation Committee issued a “Manifesto on Literary Translation” (2023).

Leo McDonagh on “Translating Gender from Japanese to English” on his blog, 2021.

Lucy North talks about kuriimu pan at Waseda, 2022.

Translator Michael Emmerich on the art of translating at Words without Borders, 2009.

The Translation Chat Podcast, hosted by Jennifer O’Donnell

J-En Translations.com (Jennifer O’Donnell)

Juliet Winters Carpenter talks about collaborating with Minae Mizumura at Society of Writers, Editors, and Translators (2014).

Juliet Winters Carpenter talks about collaborating with Minae Mizumura at The Conversation (2015).

Seven translators present their versions of the same passage from Minae Mizumura’s A True Novel at SCWBI Japan.

Lisa Hoffman-Kuroda’s Twitter thread about translation issues (2023).

Anton Hur on “How I Learned the Truth about Young, Open-Minded Readers of Translated Fiction” at The Booker Prizes, 2023.

Translator Interviews—Emily Balistrieri

Emily Balistrieri at J-En Translations (2019)

Emily Balistrieri and Andrew Cunningham at The Millions (2019)

Emily Balistrieri at NonNative Creative (2019)

Emily Balistrieri at SCWBI Japan (2021)

Emily Balistrieri at Where There’s Ink There’s Paper (2021)

Balistrieri’s Translations

Daniel Joseph’s Translations

Translator Interviews—Louise Heal Kawai

Louise Heal Kawai at Savvy Tokyo (2019)

Louise Heal Kawai at Books and Bao (2022)

Louise Heal Kawai at SCWBI Japan (2022)

Kawai’s Translations:

Translator Interviews—Avery Fischer Udagawa

Avery Fischer Udagawa at Borderless (2021)

Avery Fischer Udagawa at Global Literature in Libraries Initiative (2021)

Avery Fischer Udagawa speaks about “The Hidden Art of Literary Translation” at The Hong Kong International Literary Festival (with Mary King Bradley and Jacqueline Leung, 2023)

Udagawa’s Translations:

More Translator Interviews of Interest

Polly Barton at Waseda (2022)

Polly Barton, Daniel Hahn, and Aaron Robertson at The Booker Prizes (2023)

Sam Bett and David Boyd at Asymptote (2020)

Sam Bett and David Boyd at Harvard Review (2021)

Michael Emmerich at Waseda (2022)

Morgan Giles at Books and Bao (2022)

Ted Goossen at Waseda (2021)

Cathy Hirano at BookBlast (2017)

Allison Markin Powell and Lisa Hofmann-Kuroda at Oxford Political Review (2023)

Margaret Mitsutani at Waseda (2021)

Lucy North at Waseda (2022)

Andrew Wong at SCWBI Japan (2020)

Hitomi Yoshio at Waseda (2021)

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Japanese Literature at Goodreads

Other RJL Episodes of Interest:

Sources:

Allen, Esther and Susan Bernofsky, eds. In Translation: Translators on Their Work and What It Means. CUP, 2013.

Barokka, Khairani. “The Case against Italicizing ‘Foreign’ Words” at Catapult, 2020. (free)

Bhanot, Kavita and Jeremy Tiang. “Introduction” in Violent Phenomena: 21 Essays on Translation. Edited by Kavita Bhanot and Jeremy Tiang, Tilted Axis Press, 2022.

The Booker Prizes. “Generation TF: Who Is Really Reading Translated Fiction in the UK” at The Booker Prizes, 2023. (free)

Buchanan, Rowan Hisayo. “Who You’re Reading When You Read Haruki Murakami” in The Atlantic, 2020. (free)

Carpenter, Juliet Winters. “Absorbed in Translation: The Art—and Fun—of Literary Translation” at TheConversation.com, 2015. (free)

Carpenter, Juliet Winter and Mari Yoshihara. “Introduction” in The Fall of Language in the Age of English, Columbia, 2015.

Cunningham, Andrew and Emily Balistrieri. “Readers Don’t Need to Be Babied: A Conversation on Translating Japanese Literature” at TheMillions.com, 2019. (free)

Fowler, Edward. The Rhetoric of Confession: Shishōsetsu in Early Twentieth-Century Japanese Fiction, U of CA, 1992. 

“I Can’t Translate This! Remarks from Twelve Translators” in Monkey: New Writing from Japan, vol. 2, 2021.

Hur, Anton. “The Mythical English Reader” in Violent Phenomena: 21 Essays on Translation. Edited by Kavita Bhanot and Jeremy Tiang, Tilted Axis Press, 2022.

Iwabachi, Deborah. “The Easy Life in Kamusai and Kamusari Tales Told at Night: A Conversation with Translator Juliet Winters Carpenter” at SCWBI Japan Translation Group, 2022. (free)

Karashima, David. Who We’re Reading When We’re Reading Murakami. Soft Skull, 2020.

Kareem, Mona. “Western Poets Kidnap Your Poems and Call Them Translations: On the Colonial Phenomenon of Rendition as Translation” in Violent Phenomena: 21 Essays on Translation. Edited by Kavita Bhanot and Jeremy Tiang, Tilted Axis Press, 2022.

Keene, Donald. “The I-Novel” in Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature of the Modern Era—Fiction, 4th ed., 1999.

Margolis, Eric. “How the English Language Failed Banana Yoshimoto” at Metropolis, 2021. (free)

–. “Which Japanese Books Get Left Out of Translation” at UnseenJapan.com, 2023. (free)

Minghdoll, Jackie Friedman. “Jackie Friedman Mighdoll Talks with Translator Emily Balistrieri about Soul Lanterns” at SCBWI Japan, 2021. (free)

Mizumura Minae. The Fall of Language in the Age of English, Columbia, 2015.

Ortabasi, Melek. “Bridge Essay: Literary Translation in the Modern World” in A Companion to World Literature, ed. Ken Seigneurie, John Wiley & Sons, 2019.

Powell, Allison Markin. “Translating Women in Essential: Allison Markin Powell on Translating Kaoru Takamura’s Groundbreaking Japanese Crime Epic” at Soho.com, 2022. (free)

Udagawa, Avery Fischer and Mitali Chakravarty. “Translating Japanese: In Conversation with Avery Fischer Udagawa” at Borderless, 2021. (free)

Udagawa, Avery Fischer and Nanette McGuiness. “#Worldkitlit Weekend: A Coversation with Avery Fischer Udagawa, Translator of Award-Winning Japanese Children’s Author Sachiko Kashiwaba” at GlobalLiteratureinLibrariesInitiative.com, 2021. (free)

Zielinska-Elliott, Anna and Lynne E. Riggs. “True Collaboration on A True Novel.” Interview with Juliet Winters Carpenter at SWET: Society of Writers, Editors, and Translators, 2014. (free).

Episode 24: SF! Japanese Science Fiction

Check out Episode 24 of the Read Literature podcast.

Transcript available.

In this episode, we’re talking about Japanese science fiction.

The history of the genre. SF in Japan. Breakthrough feminist sci-fi writer Izumi Suzuki.

Plus loads of SF stories, including Suzuki’s “Night Picnic”.

CW: suicide

Become an RJL supporter for ten minutes of bonus content.

Support this podcast by buying from Bookshop.org.

More Writing by Izumi Suzuki:

SF! An RJL Booklist of Japanese Science Fiction in Translation

This episode also mentions:

*These stories are only mentioned in the extended version of the episode available to Patreon subscribers.

Find Out More

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction online. “A comprehensive, scholarly, and critical guide to science fiction in all its forms.”

TV Tropes on “Japan Takes Over the World”.

The story of Urashima Taro.

The official English website of Shinichi Hoshi. Hoshi is one of Japan’s most influential SF writers.

Gajinpot’s “Discovery: 5 Japanese Science Fiction Authors” (2018).

Book Riot’s list of “Speculative Fiction in Translation: Japan” (2017).

Book Scrolling’s list of “The Best Japanese Science Fiction & Fantasy Books” (2018). The list is cross-referenced with other online lists of Japanese science fiction, linked at the bottom of the page.

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association’s list of “Top Ten Japan All Time Best SF Novels” (2011).

Red Circle on “Japan’s Early Science Fiction” (2017).

Sci-fi translator and critic Omori Nozomi on why Sakyo Komatsu’s work became more popular during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic (2020).

Read an excerpt from Taiyo Fujii’s novel Orbital Cloud via The Verge.

My review of Suzuki’s Terminal Boredom at Asian Review of Books (2021).

Tokyo Weekender’s “Izumi Suzuki: A Legendary Sci-Fi Writer Rediscovered” (2023).

ArtReview’s “How Izumi Suzuki Broke Science Fiction’s Boys’ Club” (2021). (This is one of my favorite articles.)

LitHub’s “A Writer from the Future: Who Was Sci Fi Iconoclast Izumi Suzuki” (2021).

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Japanese Literature at Goodreads

Other RJL Episodes of Interest:

Sources

Abe Kobo. “Two Essays on Science Fiction.” Translated by Christopher Bolton and Thomas Schnellbächer in Science Fiction Studies, 2002.

Bolton, Christopher. “Editorial Introduction: The Borders of Japanese Science Fiction” in Science Fiction Studies, 2002.

–. “Introduction to ‘Two Essays on Science Fiction’ by Abe Kobo” in Science Fiction Studies, 2002.

Bolton, Christopher, et al. “Introduction” in Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams: Japanese Science Fiction from Origins to Anime. Edited by Christopher Bolton, Istvan Csicery-Ronay, Jr., and Takayuki Tatsumi. U of MI, 2007.

Cheng, John. “Asians and Asian Americans in Early Science Fiction” at The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Research, 2019. (free)

Fincher, Alison. “‘Terminal Boredom’ by Izumi Suzuki” at Asian Review of Books, 2021. (free)

Gunn, James. “Science Fiction around the World” in World Literature Today, 2010.

Keene, Donald. “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter” in Monumenta Nipponica, 1956.

Harada, Kazue. Japanese Women’s Science Fiction: Posthuman Bodies and the Representation of Gender. PhD Dissertation, 2015. (free)

Harrison, Genie. “Izumi Suzuki: A Legendary Sci-Fi Writer Rediscovered” in Tokyo Weekender, 2023. (free)

Joseph, Daniel. “How Izumi Suzuki Broke Science Fiction’s Boys’ Club” at ArtReview, 2021. (free)

Nagasawa Tadashi. “The Reception of American Science Fiction in Japan” at Oxford Encyclopedias, Literature, 2016. (free)

Nathan, Richard. “Ahead of Time: Japan’s Early Science Fiction” at RedCircleAuthors.com, 2017. (free)

Oziewicz, Marek. “Speculative Fiction” at The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Research, 2017. (free)

Ridker, Andrew. “A Writer from the the Future: Who Was Sci Fi Iconoclast Izumi Suzuki?” at LitHub, 2021. (free)

Suvin, Darko. “Preliminary Note to ‘Japanese SF, Its Originality and Orientation’ by Koichi Yamano (1969).” Translated by Kazuko Behrens. Edited by Darko Suvin and Takayuki Tatsumi in Science Fiction Studies, 1994.

Takayuki Tatsumi. “Generations and Controversies: An Overview of Japanese Science Fiction, 1957-1997” in Science Fiction Studies, 2000.

Yamano Koichi. “Japanese SF, Its Originality and Orientation (1969).” Translated by Kazuko Behrens. Edited by Darko Suvin and Takayuki Tatsumi in Science Fiction Studies, 1994.

Episode 23: Writing from Okinawa

Check out Episode 23 of the Read Literature podcast.

Transcript available.

In this episode, we’re talking about writing from Okinawa.

The history of the Ryukyu Islands, especially the Battle of Okinawa. The evolution of writing from Okinawa. And the life and work of author and activist Shun Medoruma, especially his Akutagawa-winning story “Droplets”.

CW: forced suicide (historical), violence (historical and fictional), historical rape

Correction: This episode claims Hokkaido is Japan’s largest island. I know better and misspoke. My apologies. Honshu is Japan’s largest island. Thank you to Dory Rand for bringing the mistake to my attention.

Become an RJL supporter for ten minutes of bonus content.

Support this podcast by buying from Bookshop.org.

More Writing from Okinawa:

More Writing by Shun Medoruma:

Find Out More

Isaac Meyer’s History of Japan Podcast on Japan and Okinawa, parts one (20 minutes) and two (twenty minutes). Episode two in particular is pretty grim because it digs into the history of the Battle of Okinawa.

Meyer covers Okinawa in several other episodes you might find useful:

  • “All in the Family” parts one (26 minutes), two (31 minutes), and three (27 minutes). The Satsuma Clan invaded the Ryukyu Islands during Japan’s Warring States Period.
  • “The American Outpost” (part one; 36 minutes) and “The American Interlude” (part two; 38 minutes)
  • “Fist of Legend”, parts one (26 minutes), two (29 minutes), three (28 minutes), and four (29 minutes). As Meyer discusses in this series, karate originates in the Ryukyu Islands.

The Ryukyu-Okinawa History and Culture Website. This site includes a document archive of useful primary sources like the Nimiz Proclamation that declared Okinawa under American control in the aftermath of WWII and the 1955 Melvin Price Report to the US Congress.

“Shattering Jewels: 110,000 Okinawans Protest Japanese State Censorship of Compulsory Group Suicides” by Kamata Satoshi in The Asia-Pacific Journal, 2008.

“Compulsory Mass Suicide, the Battle of Okinawa, and Japan’s Textbook Controversy” by Aniya Masaaki in The Asia-Pacific Journal, 2008.

A Ryukyu Shimpo obituary for Tatsuhio Oshiro, Okinawa’s first Akutagawa Prize winning author, 2020.

“We Cannot Allow Governor Nakaima to Falsify the History of the Battle of Okinawa” by Medoruma Shun in The Asia-Pacific Journal, 2012. Translated by Rumi Sakamoto and Matthew Allen.

An introduction to Medoruma’s novel In the Woods of Memory, including the first chapter, translated by Takuma Sminkey via The Asia-Pacific Journal.

Medoruma talks about his activism in “From the Deep Forests and Seas of Yambaru” at The Baffler. Translated by Lisa Hofmann-Kuroda.

Science on the US military base and the Okinawa dugong.

Japan’s Asahi Shimbun on Okinawa’s loss before Japan’s Supreme Court in December 2022.

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Japanese Literature at Goodreads

Other RJL Episodes of Interest:

Sources

Bhowmik, Davinder L. and Steve Rabson. “Introduction” in Islands of Protest: Japanese Literature from Okinawa. U of HI, 2016.

Bouterey, Susan. “Okinawa’s Fictional Landscapes: A Reading of Medoruma Shun’s ‘Suiteki’ (Droplets)” presented at Overseas Symposium 2016 in Otago, 2016. (free)

Faris, Wendy B. “The Question of Other: Cultural Critiques of Magical Realism” in Ordinary Enchantments: Magical Realism and the Remystification of Narrative. Vanderbilt UP, 2004.

–. “Scheherazade’s Children: Magical Realism and Postmodern Fiction” in Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Edited by Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris, Duke UP, 1995.

Ikeda, Kyle. “Writing and Remembering the Battle of Okinawa: War Memory and Literature” in Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese Literature, ed. Rachael Hutchinson and Leith Morton, 2016. 

“Japan’s Population Drops in Every Prefecture Except Okinawa” at Nippon.com, 2022. (free)

Kamerer, Tamara. “Fantastic Realities: Magical Realism in Contemporary Okinawan Fiction” in Vienna Journal of East Asian Studies, 2014.

Medoruma Shun. “Even Cats Are Disgusted by the Media’s Support-the-Emperor Broadcasts, Refusing to Be Moved by Its Brainwashing Propaganda”. Translated by Steve Rabson. Appears in the article “Reflections on the Remaking of the Imperial Image in the Reiwa Era and Japanese Democracy” in The Asia-Pacific Journal, 2019. (free) 

–. “From the Deep Forest and Seas of Yambaru” Against the US Military Presence in Japan”. Translated by Lisa Hofmann-Kuroda at The Baffler, 2023. (free)

–. “We Cannot Allow Governor Nakaima to Falsify the History of the Battle of Okinawa”. Translated by Rumi Sakamoto and Matthew Allen at The Asia-Pacific Journal, 2012. (free)

Molasky, Michael and Steve Rabson. “Introduction” in Southern Exposure: Modern Japanese Literature from Okinawa. U of HI, 2000.

Muñoz, Jordi Serrano. “Droplets, by Medoruma Shun: Personal Guilt as Collective Responsibility” in Stanford Journal of East Asian Affairs, 2015. (free) 

Wang, Xiaoyu. “Constructing of the Image of Okinawa in Literature” (graduate paper posted by PhD candidate) at Academia.edu. (free)

Episode 22: Fukushima Fiction

Check out Episode 22 of the Read Literature podcast.

Transcript available.

On March 11, 2011, at 2:46pm, one tectonic plate forced its way on top of another 45 miles (or 72 km) off the Eastern coast of Japan. It caused a 9.0 magnitude megathrust earthquake that lasted about six minutes.

The Great East Japan Earthquake triggered a tsunami—a great wave—that may have reached heights up to 133 feet (more than 40 meters). 

The earthquake and tsunami also disabled the reactor cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, causing several reactors to meltdown.

The government of Tokyo released official death numbers around the tenth anniversary of 3/11 in 2021. It reported 19,759 deaths. 6,242 injuries. And 2,553 missing. Most of the missing are presumed dead.

Hundreds of thousands of people who evacuated the area still haven’t returned home—many never will.

In this episode:

  • Tohoku and its place in Japan’s history and culture
  • The response by Japanese writers to the 3/11 disaster
  • Hiromi Kawakami’s life and work—especially her stories “God Bless You” and “God Bless You, 2011”

Donate to support Tohoku:

Become an RJL supporter for ten minutes of bonus content.

Support this podcast by buying from Bookshop.org.

More by Hiromi Kawakami:

  • “The Dragon Palace” (translated by Ted Goossen) in Monkey Business, vol. 3
  • “God Bless You” and “God Bless You, 2011” in (translated by Ted Goossen and Motoyuki Shibata) in March Was Made of Yarn: Reflections on the Japanese Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Meltdown
  • “Hazuki and Me”(translated by Ted Goossen) in Monkey Business, vol. 5
  • “I Won’t Let You Go” (translated by Allison Markin Powell; read for free at Granta)
  • “Mogera Wogura” (translated by Michael Emmerich) in The Paris Review
  • “Mysterious Deaths, the Formula, Electricians, Prohibitions” (translated by Ted Goossen) in Monkey, vol. 3
  • “Seahorse” (translated by Ted Goossen) in Monkey, vol. 2
  • “Simone + Reminiscing” (translated by Ted Goossen) in Monkey, vol. 1
  • “The Hut on the Roof” (translated by Lucy Fraser) in The Book of the City of Tokyo
  • “Mogera Wogura” in (translated by Michael Emmerich) New Penguin Parallel Text: Short Stories in Japanese
  • “Kamisama” (translated for Japanese language learners by Michael Emmerich) in Read Real Japanese Fiction: Short Stories by Contemporary Writers

This episode also mentions:

*These books come up for discussion in the bonus content available to Patreon supporters.

More Fukushima Fiction:

Find a list of Fukushima fiction available in English at Bookshop.org.

Find Out More

“Quake Moves Japan Closer to U.S. and Alter’s Earth’s Spin” in The New York Times” (March 13, 2011).

“Tsunami, Earthquake, Nuclear Crisis—Now Japan Faces Power Cuts” in The Guardian (March 13, 2011).

“Japan Damage Could Reach $235 Billion, World Bank Estimates” in The LA Times (March 21, 2011).

Tokyo Weekender’s list of books from every prefecture in Japan. Six of Japan’s 47 prefectures fall in the Tōhoku region: Akita, Aomori, Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, and Yamagata.

A video of Shinzo Abe’s appearance at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“A Wave of Imagination Followed Japan’s Meltdown” by Susan Wyndham in The Sydney Herald.

Poetry by Ryoichi Wago available at Poetry Northwest. Translated by Ayoko Takahasi and Judy Halebsky.

“Speaking as an Unrealistic Dreamer”. Haruki Murakami’s International Catalunya Acceptance Speech in July 2011.

Tokyo Ueno Station author Yu Miri talks with translator Morgan Giles in 2021. Their conversation includes Miri’s reflections on Tōhoku, where she has lived since 2015.

“Fukushima During Coronavirus: Life in Double Isolation” by Yu Miri (translated by Morgan Giles).

RJL on the Fukushima novel Sacred Cesium Ground.

The Books and Boba podcast on Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. 1 hour, 17 minutes.

My review of Erika Kobayashi’s Trinity, Trinity, Trinity in Asian Review of Books.

Tokyo Ueno Station author Yu Miri talks with translator Morgan Giles in 2021. Their conversation includes Miri’s reflections on Tōhoku, where she has lived since 2015.

“Fukushima During Coronavirus: Life in Double Isolation” by Yu Miri (translated by Morgan Giles).

RJL on the Fukushima novel Sacred Cesium Ground.

The Books and Boba podcast on Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. 1 hour, 17 minutes.

My review of Erika Kobayashi’s Trinity, Trinity, Trinity in Asian Review of Books.

Anne Meadows interviews Hiromi Kawakami for Granta Magazine. 15 minutes. Kawakami discusses her response to 3/11 beginning around the 9-minute mark.

“Worldwide Responses to the 20 Millisievert Controversy” in The Asia-Pacific Journal” (2012). As discussed in the episode, Japan raised the recommended limit on exposure to radiation from 1 to 20 mSv in April 2011. This page links a number of responses from various media organizations and NGOs inside and outside of Japan.

“Strong Women, Soft Power.” Both Lucy North and Allison Markin Powell have translated Kawakami’s work.

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Japanese Literature at Goodreads

Other RJL Episodes of Interest:

Sources

Ardou, Deibito. “Japan Needs Less Ganbatte, More Genuine Action” at The Japan Times, 2011.

DiNitto, Rachel. Fukushima Fiction: The Literary Landscape of Japan’s Triple Disaster. U of HI, 2019.

Fincher, Alison. “‘Trinity, Trinity, Trinity’ by Erika Kobayashi” at Asian Review of Books, 2022. (free)

Gebhart, Lisette. “Post-3/11 Literature: The Localisation of Pain—Internal Negotiations and Global Consciousness” in Literature and Art after ‘Fukushima’: Four Approaches. Ed. Lisette Gebhart and Yuki Masami, Eb-Verlag, 2014.

Gebhart, Lisette and Yuki Masami, eds. Literature and Art after ‘Fukushima’: Four Approaches. Eb-Verlag, 2014.

Hopson, Nathan. Ennobling Japan’s Savage Northeast: Tōhoku as Japanese Postwar Thought, 1945-2011. Harvard U Asia Center, 2017. 

–. “Systems of Irresponsibility and Japan’s Internal Colony” in The Asia Pacific Journal, 2013. (free).

Ichikawa Makoto. “The Mire and a Shovel” (translated by Christopher Lowy) in Shinsai to fikushon no ‘kyori’: Ruptured Fiction(s) of the Earthquake. Edited by Yoshikawa Yasuhisa, Waseda, 2012.

Kimoto Takeshi. “Post-3/11 Literature: Two Writers from Fukushima” in World Literature Today, 2012.

Luke, Elmer and David Karashima, eds. March Was Made of Yarn: Reflections on the Japanese Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Meltdown. Vintage, 2012.

Mihic, Tamaki. Re-Imagining Japan after Fukushima. Australian National University Press, 2020. (free via Australian National University)

Miyazawa Kaoru. “Becoming an Insider and an Outsider in Post-Disaster Fukushima” in Harvard Educational Review, 2018. (free)

Murakami Haruki. “Speaking as an Unrealistic Dreamer” (translated by Emanuel Pastreich) at The Asia-Pacific Journal, 2011. (free)

Norimatsu Satoko. “Worldwide Responses to the 20 Millisievert Controversy” in The Asia-Pacific Journal (2012). (free)

Pepi, Ronalds. “The Ruptures of Rhetoric: Cool Japan, Tokyo 2020 and Post 3.11 Tohoku” in New Voices in Japanese Studies, 2019. (free via Japan Foundation)

Pilling, David. Bending Adversity: Japan and the Art of Survival. Penguin, 2015.

USA Today. “U.S. Donations Not Rushing to Japan” at 11 Alive Atlanta, 2011. (via Archive.Today)

Yoshikawa Yasuhisa, ed. Shinsai to fikushon no ‘kyori’: Ruptured Fiction(s) of the Earthquake. Waseda, 2012.

Episode 21: Sexlessness in Japanese Fiction

Check out Episode 21 of the Read Literature podcast.

Transcript available.

This episode is marked mature.

Today we’ll explore two trends in contemporary Japanese fiction:

  • Protagonists who don’t want to have sex
  • And women who want to have babies anyway.

To take a closer look at these trends, we’re going to ask a couple of questions about contemporary Japan:

  • What is “celibacy syndrome”? Does it even exist?
  • What role does motherhood play in a shrinking society?
  • And how do sexlessness and motherhood play out in 21st-century Japanese fiction?

We’ll end with a closer look at Mieko Kawakami’s best-selling novel, Breasts and Eggs.

(CW: domestic violence in a novel)

Become an RJL supporter for more than ten minutes of bonus content.

Support this podcast by buying from Bookshop.org.

More by Mieko Kawakami:

Read Mieko Kawakami for free:

This episode also mentions:

Find Out More

More on Japan’s perceived sexlessness. NSFW. This article includes links to most other English-language articles on the same topic when it was on many people’s minds in the mid 2010s.

RJL on sexlessness in contemporary Japanese fiction. NSFW. Includes reflections on the work of Mieko Kawakami and Sayaka Murata. (spoilers)

RJL on ME and Earthlings. (spoilers)

6 Facts about Gender Equality in Japan from Unseen Japan.

More on maternity harassment in Japan.

Translator Daniel Joseph on Izumi Suzuki.

My review of Emi Yagi’s Diary of a Void in Asian Review of Books.

Isaac Meyer’s The History of Japan podcast on the history of marriage in Japan. 37 minutes.

“Japanese Generations: Boom Bubble, and Ice Age” at Nippon.com. Nippon.com has translated this article from Japanese into English.

“Osaka vs. Tokyo People: Are They Really That Different” at TheTrueJapan.com. The author is a long-time Tokyo resident.

A quick explanation about the differences between “standard Japanese” and Kansai-ben (Osaka-ben).

Mieko Kawakami’s official website. English.

Mieko Kawakami at Granta. This page also includes links to some stories by Kawakami you can read online for free.

Mieko Kawakami in conversation with David McNeill of The Guardian in 2020.

Mieko Kawakami in conversation with Makenna Goodman of BOMB Magazine in 2021.

Haruki Murakami praises Chichi to Ran.

Mieko Kawakami discusses female characters with Haruki Murakami.

A recent (February 2023) profile of Mieko Kawakami in The New York Times Magazine.

Glynne Walley provides an English-language review of 2008’s Chichi to ran. Walley is a professor of Japanese literature at the University of Oregon.

The Independent responds to Kawakami’s Akutagawa win in 2008.

Mieko Kawakami explains Breasts and Eggs on Twitter in 2020.

Sam Bett and David Boyd talk about translating Breasts and Eggs. This conversation is especially interesting as a look at co-translation.

The New Yorker explains the development and appeal of Japan’s “cell phone novels”.

“Literature” at Japanese Wiki Corpus

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Japanese Literature at Goodreads

Other RJL Episodes of Interest:

Sources

Alzate, Juliana Buriticá. “Embodiment and Its Violence in Kawakami Mieko’s Chichi to Ran” in Japanese Language and Literature, 2020.

Bullock, Julia. The Other Women’s Lib: Gender and Body in Japanese Women’s Fiction. U of HI Press, 2010. (free via Open Access)

Bullock, Julia, et al. Rethinking Japanese Feminisms. U of HI Press, 2018. (free via Open Access)  

Shirai Chiaki. “The History of ‘Artificial Insemination’ in Japan During 1890-1948: Issues Concerning Insemination and Donor Sperm” at Shizuoka University Repository, 2017. (free)

Copeland, Rebecca and Melek Ortabasi, eds. The Modern Murasaki: Writing by Women of Meiji Japan, Columbia UP, 2006.

Fincher, Alison. “Cannibalism in Two Contemporary Japanese Novels” at ReadJapaneseLiterature.com, 2020. (free)

–. “Diary of a Void” in Asian Review of Books, 2022. (free)

–. “Sexlessness in the Work of Mieko Kawakami and Sayaka Murata” at ReadJapaneseLiterature.com, 2020. (free)

Frisby, Naomi. “Spotlight on: Mieko Kawakami. The Author You Need to Know” at PanMacMillan.com, 2021. (free)

Harney, Alexandra. “The Herbivore’s Dilemma” in Slate, 2009. (free)

Haworth, Abigail. “Why Have Young People in Japan Stopped Having Sex?” in The Observer, 2013. (free)

Hay, Mark. “Why Aren’t the Japanese Fucking?” in Vice, 2015. (free)

Hernon, Matthew. “Award-Winning Japanese Author Mieko Kawakami: “I Have a Problem with the Patriarchal System in This Country” in Tokyo Weekender, 2020. (free)

Hunt, Joshua. “‘Breasts and Eggs’ Made Her a Feminist Icon. She Has Other Ambitions” in The New York Times Magazine, 2023. (free)

Kagemaya Yuri. “Writer Blogs Her Way to Top Literary Prize” in The Japan Times, 2008.

Kawakami Mieko. “from Breasts and Eggs.” Translated by Louise Heal Kawai at Words without Borders, 2012. (free)

–. “Mieko Kawakami: ‘Women Are no Longer Content to Shut Up.” Interview with David McNeill in The Guardian, 2020. (free)

–. “Strong Lights and Dark Shadows: Mieko Kawakami Interviewed by Makenna Goodman.” Translated by Hitomi Yoshio at BOMB Magazine, 2021. (free)

Kazdin, Cole. “For Women in Japan, Maternity Harassment Is the Mother of All Problems” in Vice, 2016. (free)

Keating, Joshua. “No, Japanese People Haven’t Given Up on Sex” in Slate, 2013. (free)

Kobayashi Jun. “Have Japanese People Become Asexual? Love in Japan” in International Journal of Japanese Sociology, 2017.

Kosaka, Kris. “‘Breasts and Eggs’: Not Just Some Elevated Piece of Literary Chick-Lit” in The Japan Times, 2020.

Montgomery, Hanako. “Japan Won’t Let Them Have Kids, So They Turn to the Black Market for Sperm Instead” in Vice, 2021. (free)

Murakami Haruki. “A Feminist Critique of Murakami Novels, with Murakami Himself: Mieko Kawakami Interviews the Author of Killing Commendatore.” Translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd at Literary Hub, 2020. (free)

–. “Haruki Murakami on His Favorite Young Novelist: Mieko Kawakami.” Translated by Philip Gabriel at LitHib.com, 2017. (free)

Nonomiya, Lily, Marika Katanyma and Yuko Takeo. “Japan, in Need of More Babies, Is Helping Pay for Costly IVF” in The Japan Times, 2022.

Kosaka, Kris. “Breasts and Eggs: Not Just Some Elevated Piece of Literary Chick-Lit” in The Japan Times, 2020. (free)

Lim, Louisa. “In Japan, ‘Herbivore’ Boys Subvert Ideas of Manhood” at NPR Morning Edition, 2009. (free)

McCurry, Justin. “Record Number of Young People in Japan Rejecting Marriage, Survey Shows” in The Guardian, 2022. (free)

McNeill, David. “Young Commuter Bloggers Snatch Japan’s Literary Laurels” in The Independent, 2008. (free)

Newcomb, Amelia. “Mieko Kawakami: From Blogger to Global Novelist” in The Christian Science Monitor, 2008. (free)

O no Yasumaro. The Kojiki. Translated by Gustav Heldt, Columbia UP, 2014.

Schawlow, Paul Gordon and Janet A. Walker, eds. The Woman’s Hand: Gender and Theory in Japanese Women’s Writing, Stanford, 1996.

Seaman, Amanda C. Writing Pregnancy in Low-Fertility Japan. U HI Press, 2017.

Siripala, Thisanka. “Japan’s Population Crisis Nears Point of No Return” at The Diplomat, 2023. (free)

“Yanagisawa Calls Women Child-Bearing Machines” in Japan Times, 2007.

Episode 20: The Akutagawa Prize and Kobo Abe

Machi Yamida Abe’s illustration from The Woman in the Dunes

Check out Episode 20 of the Read Literature podcast.

The Akutagawa Prize is probably Japan’s most celebrated literary award.

To better understand the Akutagawa Prize and its place in modern Japanese literature, we’ll start with an introduction to the history of “literary” fiction in Japan.

Then we’ll move on to the history of the Akutagawa Prize itself, from its creation in 1935 through its most recent winners.

And then we’ll finish with a look at the life and career of Kobo Abe including his most famous book, The Woman in the Dunes.

(CW: suicide, attempted rape in a novel)

Become an RJL supporter for five minutes of bonus content.

Support this podcast by buying from Bookshop.org.

  • Beyond the Curve (translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter)
    • includes a partial translation of “The Crime of S. Karma”
  • The Woman in the Dunes (translated by Dale Saunders)

More by Kobo Abe:

This episode also mentions:

Purchase Akutagawa winners from our Bookshop.

Find Out More

A GoodReads list of Akutagawa-winning stories. Works that have been translated into English are usually included with their titles in English.

RJL’s list of Akutagawa Prize Winners in English. The list includes non-winning works available from Akutagawa-winner authors.

Glynne Walley’s write-ups of Akutagawa-winning stories since 2000. Walley is a professor of Japanese literature at the University of Oregon.

Li Kotomi’s Akutagawa acceptance speech. Kotomi was the first Tawainese-born Akutagawa winner when she won in 2021.

A profile of Gregory Kherzrnejat, an American nominated for the 2023 Akutagawa Prize, in the Japan Times. If Kherznejat had won, he would have been the first native English speaker and first American Akutagawa winner.

Comments about Kobo Abe and “The Crime of S. Karma” by the Akutagawa Selection Committee. Note that the link is to the Google Translate version of a Japanese website.

A review of Karin Yamaguchi’s memoir, Kobo Abe and Me. Abe’s mistress’s memoir hasn’t been translated into English, but this is a thorough review.

An interview with Kobo Abe’s daughter Neri.

The Internet Movie Database entry for 1964’s The Woman in the Dunes. The entry includes a film trailer.

Kobo Abe’s obituary in The New York Times.

“Literature” at Japanese Wiki Corpus

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Japanese Literature at Goodreads

Other RJL Episodes of Interest:

Sources

Abe Kobo. “The Crime of S. Karma” in Beyond the Curve. Translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter. Kodansha, 1991.

–. Interview with Nancy S. Hardin. Contemporary Literature, 1974.

“Abe Kobo” at Prizeworld.com, 2017. (Japanese language site via Google Translate, both free)

Ashby, Janet. “Heavy and Light in Minority Fiction” in The Japan Times, 2000.


“[Breaking News] Bookstore Clerk and Author Atsushi Sato, who Lives in Sendai, Won the Akutagawa Prize” at Kahoku News, 2023. (Japanese language site via Google Translate, both free)

Chilton, Myles. “Realist Magic and the Invented Tokyos of Murakami Haruki and Yoshimoto Banana” in Journal of Narrative Theory, 2009.

Coutts, Angela. “Gender and Literary Production in Modern Japan: The Role of Female-Run Journals in Promoting Writing by Women During the Interwar Years” in Signs, 2006.

El-Khoury, Masumi Abe. Editor’s Intentions and Author’s Desires: How Junbungaku Affects the Akutagawa Prize and Japan’s Commercial Literary World. UBC. MA Thesis. 2011. (free)

Ericson, Joan E. “The Origins of the Concept of ‘Women’s Literature’” in The Woman’s Hand: Gender and Theory in Japanese Women’s Writing, Stanford, 1996.

Fernando, Shaun. “Works Winning the Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes Are Trending on Social Media” at JapanFoward.com, 2022. (free)

Ha, Thu-Huong. “Could the Akutagawa Prize Get Its First American Winner? At The Japan Times, 2023.

Iwamoto Yoshio. “The Nobel Prize in Literature, 1967-1987: A Japanese View” in World Literature Today, 1988.

“Japan’s Kafka Goes on the Road” in The New York Times, 1979. (free)

Keene, Donald. “Ryūnosuke Akutagawa” in Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature of the Modern Era—Fiction, 4th ed., 1999.

Mack, Edward. “Accounting for Taste: The Creation of the Akutagwa and Naoki Prizes for Literature” in Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 2004.

–. Manufacturing Modern Japanese Literature: Publishing, Prizes, and the Ascription of Literary Value. Duke, 2010.

Mak, Rebecca. “The Akutagawa/Tanizaki Debate: Actors in Bundan Discourse” in Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese Literature, ed. Rachael Hutchinson and Leith Morton, 2016.

Marcus, Marvin. Japanese Literature from Murasaki to Murakami, Association for Asian Studies, 2015.

Masahiko Morimoto. “Akutagawa Prize Winner Li Kotomi: Updating the Face of Japanese LIterature One Novel at a Time” at Japan-Forward.com, 2021. (free)

Napier, Susan J. The Fantastic in Modern Japanese Literature: The Subversion of Modernity. Routledge, 1996.

Powell, Allison Markin. “10 Japanese Books by Women We’d Love to See in English” at Lithub.com, 2016.

–. “Translation Women in Essential: Allison Markin Powell on Translating Kaoru Takamura’s Groundbreaking Japanese Crime Epic” at Soho.com, 2022.

Richter, Frederick. “A Comparative Approach to Abe Kōbō’s S. Karuma-shi no Hazai” in The Journal of the Association of Teachers of Japanese, 1974.

Seidensticker, Edward. “The ‘Pure’ and the ‘In-Between’ in Modern Japanese Theories of the Novel” in Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 1966.

Shields, Nancy. Fake Fish: The Theater of Kobo Abe. Weatherhill, 1996.

Shirane, Haruo, ed. Early Modern Japanese Literature—An Anthology, 1600-1900. Columbia, 2002.

Sterngold, James. “Kobo Abe, 68, the Skeptical Poet of an Uprooted Society, Is Dead” in The New York Times, 1993. (free)

Tatsumi Takayuki. “Generations and Controversies: An Overview of Japanese Science Fiction, 1957-1997” in Science Fiction Studies, 2000.

Episode 19: Japanese Magical Realism

 “Even though She Looks Old, She Is Young” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Check out Episode 19 of the Read Literature podcast.

Magical realism is a literary genre famous for unexplained fantastical encounters that pop-up in the otherwise everyday world.

Today, we’re going to take a look at magical realism in Japanese fiction.

We’ll start with defining magical realism, including a look at why that term is difficult and why some people think of it as controversial.

Then we’ll turn to the history of magical realism in Japan and take a closer look at the work of Tomihiko Morimi, especially The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl.

(CW: brief mention of fictional suicide attempt)

Become an RJL supporter for five minutes of bonus content.

Support this podcast by buying from Bookshop.org.

The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl by Tomihiko Morimi (translated by Emily Balistrieri)

More by Tomihiko Morimi:

This episode also mentions:

A Reading List of Japanese Magical Realism

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. Ozeki is a Japanese-American-Canadian, but her book is deeply influenced by Japanese literary history.

Find Out More

“I Am Not a Magic Realist” by Alberto Fuguet.

“The Future of Latin American Fiction” by Jorge Volpi.

“What We Talk about When We Talk about Magical Realism” by Fernando Sdrigotti.

“Saying Goodbye to Magic Realism” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

“11 Questions You’re Too Embarrassed to Ask about Magical Realism” at Vox.com.

Yasunari Kawabata’s 1968 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, “Japan, the Beautiful, and Myself”.

More about Yukio Mushima’s Life for Sale from Read Japanese Literature.

“Metafiction” at the Oxford Research Encyclopedia Online.

“Conflict in Literature” at KnowYourMeme.com.

An interview with Tomihiko Morimi.

Translators Emily Balistrieri and Andrew Cunningham talk about Tomihiko Morimi.

Tengu via Tofugo.com.

Rihaku (Li Bai in Chinese) via the Poetry Foundation.

The Uncanny Japan Podcast on Daruma.

Information about Kyoto from the Japan National Tourism Organization.

RJL on The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl. This blog post includes a “glossary” of some of the features of Japanese culture that come up in the novel.

“Literature” at Japanese Wiki Corpus

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Japanese Literature at Goodreads

Other RJL Episodes of Interest:

Sources

Ashkenazi, Michael. “Tengu” in Handbook of Japanese Mythology. ABC Clio, 2003.

Chilton, Myles. “Realist Magic and the Invented Tokyos of Murakami Haruki and Yoshimoto Banana” in Journal of Narrative Theory, 2009.

Cunningham, Andrew and Emily Balistrieri. “Readers Don’t Need to Be Babied: A Conversation on Translating Japanese Literature” at TheMillons.com, 2019.

Dash, Michael J. “Marvellous Realism—The Way Out of Négritude” in Caribbean Studies, 1974.

de la Campa, Román. “Magical Realism and World Literature: A Genre for the Times?” in Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos, 1999.

Faris, Wendy B. “The Question of Other: Cultural Critiques of Magical Realism” in Ordinary Enchantments: Magical Realism and the Remystification of Narrative. Vanderbilt UP, 2004.

–. “Scheherazade’s Children: Magical Realism and Postmodern Fiction” in Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Edited by Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris, Duke UP, 1995.

Fincher, Alison. “God’s Plot Conveniences: The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl” at Read Japanese Literature, 2020. (free)

–. “Killing Commendatore; or, What the Hell is a Double Metaphor” at Read Japanese Literature, 2020. (free)

–. “Magical Realism in Penguin Highway” at Read Japanese Literature, 2020. (free)

Fuguet, Alberto. “I Am Not a Magic Realist” in Salon, 1997. (free)

Gordon, Andrew. A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present, 4th ed. OUP, 2019.

Hussein, Sawsan Malla and Brahim Barhoun. “The State of the Debate on Magical Realism and Ben Okri” in Oyé: Journal of Language, Literature, and Popular Culture, 2020.

Kamerer, Tamara. “Fantastic Realities: Magical Realism in Contemporary Okinawan Fiction” in Vienna Journal of East Asian Studies, 2014.

Klinkowitz, Jerome. “Metafiction” in Oxford Research Ensearch Encyclopedia Online, 2017. (free)

Keene, Donald. “The I-Novel” in Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature of the Modern Era—Fiction, 4th ed. Columbia UP, 1999.

Li Bai. “The Solitude of Night.” Translated by Shigeyoshi Obata. PoetryFoundation.org.

Morena-Garcia, Silvia. “Saying Goodbye to Magic Realism” in NYTimes Online, 2022. (free)

Marcus, Marvin. Japanese Literature from Murasaki to Murakami. Association for Asian Studies, 2015.

Morimi Tomohiko. Interview with Kyoko Sugimoto. Translated by Emily Balistrieri. Anime News Network, 2020.

Napier, Susan J. “The Magic of Identity: Magic Realism in Modern Japanese Fiction” in Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Edited by Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris, Duke UP, 1995.

Roh, Franz. “Magic Realism: Post-Expressionism (1925)” in Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Edited by Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris, Duke UP, 1995.

Sdrigotti, Fernando. “What We Talk about When We Talk about Magical Realism” in LA Review of Books, 2020. (free)

Stretcher, Matthew C. “Beyond ‘Pure’ Literature: Mimesis, Formula, and the Postmodern in the Fiction of Murakami Haruki” in The Journal of Asian Studies, 1998.

Suter, Rebecca. “The Artist as a Medium and the Artwork as Metaphor in Murakami Haruki’s Fiction” in Japan Forum, 2020.

Volpi, Jorge. “The Future of Latin American Fiction” at Three Percent. (free)

Weinberger, Christopher. “Reflexive Realism and Kinetic Ethics: The Case of Murakami Haruki” in Representations, 2015.
Zamora, Lois Parkinson and Wendy B. Faris, eds. Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Duke UP, 1995.