Seasonality, internal awareness

| Dec 23, 2012

Seasonality, internal awareness

by David Burleigh

“Japan and the Culture of the Four Seasons: Nature, Literature and the Arts” (Columbia University Press) by Haruo Shirane. The whole seasonal consciousness of Japan, so meticulously considered and observed, is an intangible cultural tradition, though it has a certain physical embodiment in saijiki, ...

Celebrating the female dragons

| Dec 23, 2012

Celebrating the female dragons

by Kris Kosaka

“All That I Am” (Harper) by Anna Funder blazes across pre-World War II Europe, illuminating the period when Hitler eliminated all national opposition in his prelude to the rest of the world. Funder imaginatively melds historical figures, painstaking research and creative fire to chronicle ...

Alternative histories about JFK

| Dec 23, 2012

Alternative histories about JFK

by Mark Schreiber

The 50th anniversary of the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy next November is expected to see a flood of new works on that topic. Two alternative history novels have already appeared on this theme. In Stephen King’s “11/22/63: A Novel” (Scribner), Maine ...

| Dec 23, 2012

U.S. essays, Japan's Christians

by Paul Mccarthy

It may seem like cheating, but my first best book of 2012 is “The Best American Essays of 2012″ (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), part of the Best American Series. I read it each year and am never disappointed. This year’s selection was made by David ...

Seeing the past, humanity afresh

| Dec 23, 2012

Seeing the past, humanity afresh

by David Cozy

“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 ...

2012; The year in books

| Dec 23, 2012

2012; The year in books

The Japan Times invited seven of its book reviewers to pick their favorite books published or made available in Japan in 2012, regardless of whether the book was reviewed in these pages. The selections range from books on history to art, to fiction and ...

Four aspects of Japan's history

| Dec 23, 2012

Four aspects of Japan's history

by Michael Hoffman

“Oh, what happy people they must have been!” Thus Yukie Chiri (1903-22), reflecting on the pristine past of her people, the Ainu of southwestern Hokkaido. “Ainu Spirits Singing” (University of Hawaii Press) by Sarah Strong is an elegy to a lost time and an ...

Revisiting Asia's past, present

| Dec 23, 2012

Revisiting Asia's past, present

by Jeff Kingston

“From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia” (Allen Lane) by Pankaj Mishra. This is the story of the Asian intellectual’s response to Western imperialism. It is an intelligent and rewarding read that crisscrosses time and space, ...