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 ...

Wit and wisdom endures in poetry

Jun 2, 2013

Wit and wisdom endures in poetry

In considering the collected poems of Nanao Sakaki, one has to deal with a problem: his life. That life, by all accounts a marvelous adventure, threatens even now, more than four years after the adventure’s end, to overshadow his work. HOW TO LIVE ON ...

Views of Japan through Western films

Apr 21, 2013

Views of Japan through Western films

Most readers encountering a book called "Under Foreign Eyes: Western Cinematic Adaptations of Postwar Japan" will expect it to contain an interesting claim or claims about these Western representations of Japan, and that the claim or claims will be buttressed by sophisticated analysis of ...

Dec 30, 2012

Japanese story anthology shows fiction truly a transnational affair

SPECULATIVE JAPAN 3: “Silver Bullet” and Other Tales of Japanese Science Fiction and Fantasy. Kurodahan Press, 2012, 292 pp., $16 (paperback) One pleasing quality of the third volume of Kurodahan Press’s “Speculative Japan” series of anthologies is that it exists at all. Generally, an ...

Japanese story anthology shows fiction truly a transnational affair

Dec 30, 2012

Japanese story anthology shows fiction truly a transnational affair

SPECULATIVE JAPAN 3: “Silver Bullet” and Other Tales of Japanese Science Fiction and Fantasy. Kurodahan Press, 2012, 292 pp., $16 (paperback) One pleasing quality of the third volume of Kurodahan Press’s “Speculative Japan” series of anthologies is that it exists at all. Generally, an ...

Seeing the past, humanity afresh

| Dec 23, 2012

Seeing the past, humanity afresh

“Atlas: The Archaeology of an Imaginary City” (Columbia University Press) by Dung Kai-cheung, translated by Anders Hansson and Bonnie S. McDougall. Lovers of maps, devotees of Borges and Calvino, those who understand that novels need not be first-this-happened-then-that-happened catalogs of events in the lives ...