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Janet Ashby

For Janet Ashby's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

May 13, 2001

'Earth Mother' Randy Taguchi wins plaudits for her fiction

The novelist Randy Taguchi, known as queen of the e-mail magazine, is enjoying something of a boom. Although she started writing on the Internet in 1996 and now draws some 78,000 readers for the weekly essay she posts on the Web, she came to ...

Apr 7, 2001

A bibliophile's whodunit: Who is killing the book?

Who is killing the book in Japan? That is the provocative question posed by veteran nonfiction writer Shin'ichi Sano in his recent book of the same title ("Dare ga 'hon' o korosu no ka," President Sha, 1,800 yen). He has several suspects. Could it be ...

Mar 2, 2001

Ex-OL, self-described everyman take Naoki prize

The winners of the Naoki literary prize for the second half of 2000 have been announced. This time, both winners -- "Planaria" by Yamamoto Fumio and "Vitamin F" by Shigematsu Kiyoshi -- are short-story collections, as were three of the other four short-listed works. Yamamoto, ...

Feb 2, 2001

Casting a literary eye on Japan's aging society

The sociologist and feminist Ueno Chizuko has released a collection of past essays that examine Japanese literature as primary source material reflecting the society and era in which it was written. "Ueno Chizuko ga Bungaku o Shakaigaku Suru (Ueno Chizuko Does Sociology on Literature)" (Asahi ...

Jan 5, 2001

Have Japanese novelists lost touch with readers?

The fading interest in reading among younger Japanese first caused alarm several years ago in Japan, but I was recently startled to see a full page devoted to the topic in The New York Times' Book Review section (Dec. 10). In the article "The Rising ...

| Dec 1, 2000

Are class differences widening in Japan?

Along with increased pressures for deregulation and a free-market economy have come wider questions of what Japanese society should be like in the new century. Has the Japan in which 90 percent of the people considered themselves middle class ended? Is Japan becoming a ...

Nov 3, 2000

Throwing out complication to embrace simple life

Reflecting the downbeat mood in Japan, book sales continue to be sluggish, especially of hardcover books and serious fiction. This year there have been few literary best sellers other than the Japanese translation of the German novel "The Reader" by Berhard Schlink. One prominent trend has ...

Oct 6, 2000

'Exodus' to a country of hope?

In recent years Murakami Ryu has received much attention for his uncanny knack of writing novels taking up themes, such as teen crime and hikikomori (withdrawing from the world and shutting oneself up in one's room), just before they come to public awareness as ...

May 5, 2000

Two Murakamis mull quake in Japanese life

A look at recent best-seller lists reveals several familiar faces. "Eien no Ko," a two-volume novel about the long-term effects of child abuse, is back with the broadcasting of a TV dramatization (Monday nights on NTV). There's another mystery by Nishimura Kyotaro and a ...