Japan is a nation that holds a rich literary tradition dating all the way back to the Buddhist Diamond Sutra which was written in AD 565. In the near-1500 years since, Japanese authors have taken the region and world by storm, with legendary names like Mishima and Murakami to contemporary superstars like Murata and Yoshimoto, Japanese literature has never faltered when it comes to being some of the most engrossing in the world!
So, what are the best Japanese story books Australia has on its shelves? Let’s take a look at some of the classic tales that have never ceased to inspire the imagines of readers from across the globe:
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
Perhaps one of the most hauntingly beautiful novels of the 20th Century, Norwegian Wood is a tragic testament to the lost love and youth that many of us carry into middle age.
The stunning novel concerns a young student named Watanabe as he moves to Tokyo to study after the death of his best friend. He continues a relationship with Naoko, his best friend’s girlfriend, but her fragility is troubling.
He soon meets Midori, fun and outgoing girl who is the exact opposite of the withdrawn Naoko, and this creates a tough situation for Watanabe.
The perfect place to start a Japanese literary odyssey, Norwegian Wood is as much about the excitement of youth as it is about a time of cultural upheaval in the country.
The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima
Mishima is not only one of Japan’s most polarising figures, but perhaps one of the 20th Century’s most iconoclastic artists, and The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea is the perfect testament, perfect novel to the controversial author’s outlook on morality.
Raw, unflinching, and utterly terrifying, The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea tells the story of a group of amoral teens who turn on a sailor they had once respected immensely.
A startling metaphorical tale, The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea gives a troubling insight into one of Japan’s most respected-yet-controversial figures, a man who would later become known as much for his death from seppuku after a failed fascist coup as he would for incredible works such as this one.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
Okay, time to take it away from the torrid and try reading that is The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, and to something more comforting, modern and quirky.
Convenience Store Woman is an absolute gem of a novel, one that perfectly analyses modern-yet-obsolete societal expectations for Japanese women.
Keiko Furukura maybe 36 and working in a convenience store, but she is happiest this way and has no intention of changing. She loves the structure and interactions such a job provides, and she has no desire to settle down and have kids.
Her friends and family think she is strange, as they can’t understand why on Earth someone of her age would want to continue working in such an establishment in lieu of something “better”, but she doesn’t care for their opinions and is happy to continue her life as it is.
A biting look into Japanese class systems and expectations of women in modern Japan, Convenience Store Women is a seriously enjoyable book read and one that should be catapulted to the top of your list!
Follow BusinessBlogger for more!