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Japanese Literature... Which would you recommend?

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Re: Japanese Literature... Which would you recommend?

Postby Albus » Tue 11.11.2008 9:06 pm

Genji Monogatari is one of the best classics. I've read an abriged version of it. Really enchanting!
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Re: Japanese Literature... Which would you recommend?

Postby Riza » Mon 12.15.2008 5:04 pm

I read "I HAVEN'T DREAMED OF FLYING FOR A WHILE" from Taichi Yamada. I sure recommend it.
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Re: Japanese Literature... Which would you recommend?

Postby Xjort » Wed 03.04.2009 2:55 am

I highly reccommend "Coin Locker Babies" - Ryu Murakami
Bit of a cyber-punk apocalyptic-world slant to it but the stories interesting none the less. Endings a bit...odd though. 8)
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Re: Japanese Literature... Which would you recommend?

Postby 8werner8 » Tue 05.05.2009 1:29 am

If you don't mind a bit of weirdo you might like Yoshimoto Banana.
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Re: Japanese Literature... Which would you recommend?

Postby TenchiMayo » Thu 10.06.2011 9:49 am

Another good one from Ryu Murakami is, In the Miso Soup.
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Re: Japanese Literature... Which would you recommend?

Postby notdaijoubu » Sat 10.15.2011 11:22 pm

It looks like I might be helping someone necropost, but...

I've found myself reading Taisho literature lately, both due to having a class on literature from the Meiji Period through just after the war, and due to interest. I highly recommend works by Akutagawa Ryunosuke and Edogawa Rampo. These authors essentially encompass the weird and macabre of Japanese literature, and as a result, I'm fascinated by their work.

Akutagawa's stuff is easy to come by. He was one of the earlier authors to have substantial amounts of his work brought to the West, if I remember correctly. There are several books on Amazon with translations of his short stories. "Rashomon" and "Cogwheels" are pretty good, as well as "In a Grove," which the Kurosawa film Rashomon is based on. Edogawa Rampo writes detective novels, as well as writing some other rather...unique works. I believe "Japanese Tales of Mystery & Imagination" has a lot of excellent Edogawa Rampo works in it (it's a compilation of Edogawa stuff).

A book worth checking out for a survey of Tokugawa~Sengo literature would be Modern Japanese Literature, which compiles excerpts and short stories from arguably the most influential and prolific Japanese authors of that span of time.

For more modern stuff, Murakami Ryu and Murakami Haruki (no relation) are quite excellent authors. Their works are masterful, and in the case of Murakami Ryu, very controversial. Coin Locker Babies, In the Miso Soup, and Audition are incredible books. The translations tend to be spotty from what I've seen, but not so bad that they're unreadable. They convey the Japanese (more or less) accurately.

Murakami Haruki's Noruwei no Mori (Norwegian Wood) is an okay book, but as it's considered a masterpiece by a lot of my Japanese friends, it's strange that it's basically someone running around masturbating, crying, and having sex. I haven't read any of his works in English, so I can't comment on the translations.

Yoshimoto Banana is a good writer, but if you're reading her books in Japanese, they tend to be quite psychological, making them difficult to understand without prior literary experience. Also, (I'm not trying to cheese anyone off; I'm just expressing an opinion) the topics of her books, and the plots overall, tend to feel kind of like Lifetime movies. Kanashii Yokan (Sorrowful Premonition) is a pretty good book, but I felt like I needed to have my period and eat some ice cream after finishing it. It was an interesting experience (her writing gives deep insight to the modern Japanese psyche), but I regret following my professor's advice to try her writing. It could be that I'm just being picky.
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Re: Japanese Literature... Which would you recommend?

Postby Luv Scarlet » Mon 07.16.2012 8:39 pm

Well, since a few times I am wondering if the European / American styles in literature have reached the Japanese writers (with themes such as Fantasy) and if there are books of this style we can read/buy (and maybe where, in my city in France there aren't a lot of Japanese bookshops, so I think about Amazone for example).

I'm very fond of Fantasy (my first trilogy were "His Dark Materials" of Philip Pullman, then others like "Percy Jackson", "Inheritance Cycle", "Stoneheart", Tunnels"...) and I would be very glad if there was Japanese Fantasy I could discover and read.

Whenever there isn't Fantasy books, if there is a little of fantastic I'll do with, I have so much to improve in my Japanese literature and culture knowledge). :)

Thank you in advance ! :D
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Re: Japanese Literature... Which would you recommend?

Postby richvh » Mon 07.16.2012 10:30 pm

There are definitely Japanese fantasy writers. One series that I've read is Ono Fuyumi's "Twelve Kingdoms" (十二国記) series. Hideyuki Kurata's "Read or Die" also has fantasy elements, and is I think an easier read.

A lot of animes are adapted from either light novels or manga, if there's an anime you like you might try tracking down the associated books (if any.)
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Re: Japanese Literature... Which would you recommend?

Postby Luv Scarlet » Mon 07.16.2012 11:11 pm

Oh thanks ! I'll look fort that. (R.O.D looks very cool !)

No, I don't know a lot of manga and anime, just the main (commercial) ones and that's all, so I don't have anime to assiociate with their original books. I'm most interested in the Fantasy, whenever I admire the manga (almost for the drawings), I want to read Japanese "normal" literature.

Thank you again for the quick reply ! *puts the book names' on his list*

If there are other books closer to the "Fantasy shape" (monsters, dragons, ghosts, you know... things from "The Wardstone Chronicles" to "Eragon") I would be interested too.
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Re: Japanese Literature... Which would you recommend?

Postby komugi » Sun 01.06.2013 11:40 am

Albus wrote:Genji Monogatari is one of the best classics. I've read an abriged version of it. Really enchanting!

absolutely ... it IS a classic ... and I very highly recommend it also :)

but ... with the Tale of Genji you have to be very careful of which version of it you get

most of them do not do the story justice, mostly because the translator tried to re-phrase too much in order to make it more "western" sounding ... in an effort to make it more palatable to western readers

the best version to get is the translation by Royall Tyler ... (this is the version I have, and to do it justice get the full unabridged version) ... he did his best to remain true to the style and form of the original ... which does make it a bit more confusing and difficult to read ... but the extensive "translator notes" on the pages does help :)

it is fascinating story and well worth the effort to read it :mrgreen:


and if you are a glutton for punishment ... and absolutely HAVE to read it in the original language ... here is a link to a copy: (LIbrary of Congress) ... ch's are in pdf format
http://lcweb4.loc.gov/service/asian/asi ... 15toc.html
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Re: Japanese Literature... Which would you recommend?

Postby loveinjapanese2014 » Tue 03.04.2014 6:51 am

It is difficult to know where to begin with Japanese literature, there are loads of famous authors.

So I would suggest "Yasunari Kawabata", for example Les Belles endormies or Tristesse et Beaute. These two novels are very famous and very typical of the Japanese literature.

I was told Le maitre de go is more accessible. Kawabata has also written many famous short stories.
- Haruki Murakami is more recent, and has a similar typical Japanese writing style. Check Kafka sur le rivage and Norwegian wood, two of his most famous novels. (Note that not all his novels are based in Japan).
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