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David Cozy

For David Cozy's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

The Strange Library

Dec 27, 2014

The Strange Library

Haruki Murakami’s “The Strange Library” is a short story, not a novel. So why, one might wonder, has it been published as a single volume? Reading the story, two answers suggest themselves. The first is that, though it is short — 58 loosely printed ...

Quiet Accomplishment

Nov 29, 2014

Quiet Accomplishment

Minor artists fear — and not without reason — that the ideas and visions of which their art is made are finite. They hesitate to share, therefore, and are jealous of other artists, especially young ones who threaten to supplant them. Quiet Accomplishment, by ...

Oh, Tama!

Sep 20, 2014

Oh, Tama!

Mieko Kanai, a prize-winning poet, eminent critic and author of experimental fiction that evokes comparisons to the works of Borges and Kafka, has also, in her “Mejiro” series, produced a series of novels notably lighter in tone. In these books, two of which have ...

Last Words from Montmartre

Jul 26, 2014

Last Words from Montmartre

Qiu Miaojin tells us that her novel features “a plot that has long since disappeared.” That these reflections on narrative are part of “Last Words,” the novel they serve to elucidate, and that they are apt, places Qiu’s novel squarely at the avant-garde end ...

Decadence in the time of evil encounters

May 17, 2014

Decadence in the time of evil encounters

For most of us the notion of life in a tight-knit village is pure fantasy: We have lived our whole lives in and around cities. One would think, therefore, that we would have grown comfortable with the anonymity and the promiscuous mixing with strangers ...

A True Novel

Jan 18, 2014

A True Novel

Like all artists, novelists find the impetus to begin in various places. Some inspire themselves with a formal challenge. Georges Perec, for example, asked himself what would happen if he tried to write a novel entirely bereft of the letter “e.” Others, in their ...

Burying the truth to survive in postwar, modern Japan

Aug 17, 2013

Burying the truth to survive in postwar, modern Japan

It is hardly necessary to note that comics and manga are capable of conveying just about anything. Philosophy? See Ryan Dunlavey and Fred Van Lente’s Action Philosophers series. Travel? Try Guy Delisle’s accounts of his sojourns in tourist hot spots such as Pyongyang and ...

Aug 10, 2013

Three versions of the 'good wife' in Japan

Once upon a time, not so long ago, it was unusual for a Japanese woman to aspire to be anything other than a “good wife and wise mother”— an aspiration so predominant that the Japanese for it, ryosai kenbo, is a set phrase in ...

Jul 6, 2013

Loss of innocence in war for a youth looking for some meaning

Koji Obata, the protagonist of Hiroyuki Agawa’s novel, tends not to feel strongly about things. He is, however, convinced that this detachment is an aspect of his character that he’d like to change. Early in the novel he decides that “he [is] looking for ...

Humble true tales of a 'good man'

Jun 16, 2013

Humble true tales of a 'good man'

The journals of Kenjiro Setoue, a doctor at a clinic on a small Kyushu island, chronicle a life that is, as the doctor himself notes, for the most part, unexciting. It is difficult to believe that a version of this life has been retold ...