Japanese Literature Challenge

Every year the Japanese novels I read are among my favourites. While I missed Bellezza’s Japanese Literature Challenge last year, I’m very keen on participating this year. It is a 7 month long challenge which has started this month and runs until January 30 2013.

I’m not going to share a proper list at this point although I have a pile with interesting books. Mostly in French or German translations which makes it tricky to find the English titles and, as so often, they do not even exist in an English translation.

A few of the translated choices are

Ueda Akinari’s Tales of Moonlight and Rain.

Soseki Natsume’s Kokoro

Lady Sarashina As I Crossed A Bridge of Dreams: Recollections of a Woman in 11th Century Japan.

I already know that one of my first contributions will be the July title of my Literature and War Readalong.

Masuji Ibuse’s Black Rain is said to be one of the most important novels which have been written on Hiroshima.

If you participate in the Japanese Literature Challenge you might consider joining us in reading this novel.

The discussion is due on Monday, July 30 2012. An introduction post to this novel will follow shortly.

56 thoughts on “Japanese Literature Challenge

  1. Nice post, Caroline! Love your list! I have been wanting to join the Japanese Literature Challenge for a while, but haven’t been able to. I hope to join this year. I think I will read a Murakami novel (because I haven’t read one yet), a book by Banana Yoshimoto (another Japanese author I haven’t explored), maybe a Manga comic (I know I am cheatimg, but isn’t that also Japanese literature? :)) and probably ‘I am a cat’ by Soseki Natsume. And maybe ‘The Tale of Genji’ by Murasaki Shikibu (unfortunately it is like Proust’s ‘In Search of Lost Time’ – it is so thick that it is very intimidating!). Happy Reading! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the above books.

    • I’m glad you are going to join as well. You’ve got a great list. I like Banana Yoshimoto a lot and some Murakami too. Hiromi Kawakami and Banana Yoshimot are still my favourite Japanese writers so far. I was tempted by “I am a cat” but I have at least three of his other books here. I’ve heard about “The Tale of Genji”. It’s one of thse classics I always think i should read.

      • Manga can be easy and difficult at the same time. For someone who had read it since childhood like me, reading Manga is as enjoyable as thick novel…but for someone who tried it when that person already grown up, it might come as a challenge.

      • When I read my first Manga, it was an interesting experience. When I opened the book and looked at the first page, like in a normal book, it said ‘Stop. You are reading it the wrong way. Go to the last page and start reading from the left page to the right page. That is the right way to read a Manga’ 🙂 I did that and it was fun! Hope you get to read Mangas and like them.

        • You need to tell me which are your favourites. Novia told me a few but some are hard to get here. I didn’t know they have to be read like Japanese books even in translation. That’s interesting.

  2. I can’t find that Ibuse book 😦
    I forgot that my Samurai book can be part of Japanese Literature challenge…I better make my introduction to the challenge post.
    Thank you for reminding me Caroline 🙂

    • You are welcome. 🙂 This post was meant to be a giveaway and then I realized that since the beginning of the year the book is oop. It’s only available for the kindle it seems. Such a pity. Maybe you would have won it.
      I didn’t think of the challenge when i read your review but of course, that would count.

  3. I was going to say that I wouldn’t join in, but when I read that this goes till next year, I should be able to squeeze one in. And I happen to know just the book. As you know I’m not big on Japanese lit, but I have one book here that I’ve been wanting to reread. You gave me the excuse.

  4. I do not believe that I ever read any Japanese literature before. Black Rain looks to be a good introduction to that country’s literature. I have read a fair number of non fiction accounts about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. I have never read any fiction on the event. These things are disturbing but they also contain truths that every thinking person must know about.

    • Does that mean you are tempted to join?
      It would be great but, no pressure.
      I’m sure Black Rain is an intersting starting point but it will be very different from the Japanese literature I’m used to. They have some very bleak writers but many poetical ones as well.

  5. Caroline, so here I am to leave an official comment after replying to some others. First of all, I’m so glad you joined in! Secondly, I loved The Tales of Moonlight and Rain. In fact, I gave away my copy and every autumn I wish I still had it to reread some of the stories for Halloween. Last of all, I’m so hoping that I can read Black Rain with you. I’m planning on it at this point, if my Dostoevsky doesn’t interfere! XO

  6. Black Rain is one of the best novels I have ever read. I posted on it a good while ago. Incredible accounts of the days after the bombing. Please also read Kenzaburo Oe’s collection of stories written by bomb victims, “crazy iris”. I will be so eager to read your post on Black Iris

    • I’m really glad to hear you liked this so much. I will read your review but not before having finished the book.
      Thanks for suggesting Crazy Iris. I hadn’t heard of it.

  7. My reading is all over the place at the moment and I can’t seem to get it under control. I have a whole bunch of review copies I need to read with some urgency! So I am being very cautious about challenges right now. I do have The Makioka Sisters, however, which I’ve been hoping to read for a while and I might get there between now and next January!

    • I have to be careful as well but a this type of challenge is quite effortless for me as I’m going to read the one or the other Japanese author anyway. I have to say no to review copies from now on. It’s too much pressure. I have two short story collections from authors which are excellent but other than that i keep on saying no.
      I’ll be interested to read your review. I haven’t read the book.

  8. I’ve been eyeing Kokoro for a while now and am suddenly very interested in Black Rain even though I’m prob. all booked up already for July. However, I’ll be reading a Murakami for J-Lit and at least one other book to be determined later. Way later! Happy reading to you.

    • Thanks Richard. I would like to read Kokoro. 7 months is long enough, I hope to fit it in. Black Rain comes highly recomended. It would of course we great if you could join but then again, it’s Spanish literature month. I will try to read the Onetti and some shorter books. As great as A mundo para Julius starts, it’s chunky and one to read very slowly.

  9. Easy for me this time: I’ve just finished a Murakami and I have two other Japanese books at home.

    I really think there should be a community blog among book bloggers to post about reading challenges. Bloggers who organize a challenge would provide the administrators with a ready-made post to be published, we could subscribe to the blog and be in informed of challenges in our literary world.

  10. Although I don’t think I’ll formally join in I do love the idea of reading some Japanese authors. I was hoping to in any case, so perhaps I can squeeze in another book or two. I’ve lucked out as my library owns the Ibuse and The Makioka Sisters was on my original list of books to read this year (which I seem to pretty much ignored…). I wouldn’t mind reading one of Natsuo Kirino’s novels, too, as I’ve read her before and liked the book. I look forward to seeing which books you ultimately read.

    • I’m glad you could find the Ibuse as it’s out of print at the moment. I’d like to read one of Tanizaki’s novels too. Every year the Japanese books are among my top reads, no idea why I don’t read more. It’s not a challange that forces you to sign up for a level, btw, you can always join, even just for one book. 🙂

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