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Malice

Nov 1, 2014

Malice

by Tim Hornyak

“The incident took place on April 16, 1996, a Tuesday.” This meditative, clever novel from the author of 2011′s “The Devotion of Suspect X” begins with a journal entry by Osamu Nonoguchi, a children’s author who happens upon the body of his friend and ...

The Sarashina Diary

Nov 1, 2014

The Sarashina Diary

by Madeline Barbush

The author known as Takasue’s Daughter, or Lady Sarashina, kept a diary to mark her bold 11th-century journey from the east of Japan to the capital. So enthralled did she become with writing that she continued for 40 more years, producing an account that ...

Spooky tales from beyond the grave

Oct 25, 2014

Spooky tales from beyond the grave

by Mark Schilling

Ghost stories are universal, but Japanese ghost stories, argues Zack Davisson in “Yurei: The Japanese Ghost,” are unique. So much so that Davisson, a translator and essayist who is something of a specialist in the supernatural, uses yūrei, the Japanese word for spook, throughout ...

No Longer Human

| Oct 25, 2014

No Longer Human

by William Bradbury

Osamu Dazai’s “No Longer Human” comprises a series of three fictionalized notebooks, with each increasingly darker than the last. The character writing these books, Yozo, is detached from the beginning and is afraid of human interactions, but he learns how to socialize with people ...

Perfidia

Oct 25, 2014

Perfidia

by Mark Schreiber

This sprawling period piece from the prolific author of such works as “L.A. Confidential” and “The Black Dalia” takes place in Los Angeles and environs between Dec. 5 and 29, 1941. Central to the plot are the enigmatic slayings of a Japanese family of ...

In the footsteps of Isabella Bird

Oct 25, 2014

In the footsteps of Isabella Bird

by Catherina Depaz

With a curiosity for exploring new lands and cultures in the late 1800s, British author, traveler and naturalist Isabella Bird blazed quite a trail, one that is followed lovingly by Kiyonori Kanasaka with his collection of photographs that capture Bird’s heart and vision, replicating ...

If you'd nuked a city, you'd feel guilty too

Oct 18, 2014

If you'd nuked a city, you'd feel guilty too

by J.J. O'Donoghue

The author T.C. Boyle in the preface to his book “Stories II” published last year made a convincing argument that runs counter to the conventional wisdom to “write what you know.” Boyle said: “A story is an exercise of imagination — or, as Flannery ...

The Great Wave

| Oct 18, 2014

The Great Wave

by Stephen Mansfield

The phrase oyatoi gaikokujin refers to foreigners hired by the Meiji Era government and various educational institutions to impart their skills to Japanese eager to advance in the modern world. The Great Wave, by Christopher Benfey.Random House, Nonfiction. There was a veritable legion of ...

From Race to Ethnicity

Oct 18, 2014

From Race to Ethnicity

by Michael Hoffman

The first known Japanese in Hawaii were shipwrecked fishermen circa 1806, unwitting forerunners of a diaspora they can scarcely have imagined. From Race to Ethnicity, by Jonathan Y. Okamura.University of Hawaii Press, Nonfiction. In 1868 came the first Japanese contract laborers. The local sugar ...

What Do You Want to Create Today?

Oct 18, 2014

What Do You Want to Create Today?

by Madeline Barbush

Tokyo resident Dr. Bob Tobin chose the title for “What Do You Want to Create Today?” to make his message entirely clear: It’s all about you. What Do You Want to Create Today?, by Dr. Bob Tobin.BenBella Books, Nonfiction. He argues that the traditional ...

Black Rain

| Oct 11, 2014

Black Rain

by Kris Kosaka

Masuji Ibuse’s classic 1965 novel “Black Rain” takes readers into the everyday lives of a family poisoned by radiation sickness. The narrative structure carefully balances between the present time of the novel and journal entries from the bombings of Hiroshima to craft a carefully ...