As 2020 approaches, The Japan Times' book reviewers look back at a decade of literature and their favorite and most impactful books written about Japan or by Japanese writers.
Nicolas Gattig is a teacher and writer from San Francisco. His articles/essays about politics and education have been published in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, SOMA magazine, Street Sheet, and the Japan Times. He is greatly interested in literature and the effects of culture.
For Nicolas Gattig's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
In "The Decay of the Angel," Yukio Mishima concludes his "The Sea of Fertility" tetralogy with musings on modern Japan, the loss of beauty and old age.
Despite living in the country for over 30 years, Pico Iyer is a self-described "Japan beginner." His new book, "A Beginner's Guide to Japan," is full of often contradictory musings and vignettes that invite readers to expand or refute.
Toshikazu Kawaguchi's "Before the Coffee Gets Cold," gets its first English translation. This play-turned-novel has an all-female cast of main characters and a hefty dose of sentiment — a page turner to finish before your morning brew.
Ezra Vogel's "China and Japan" is a timely reminder of how public perceptions are shaped by political expediency, how new leaders and propaganda can efface existing goodwill.
Hiromi Kawakami's "The Ten Loves of Nishino," a collection of interconnected short stories centering around the titular character, is a poignant examination of gender relationships in Japan and a bittersweet ode to an ageing playboy.
Through in-depth research and infographics, Parag Khanna's "The Future is Asian" details the 21st-century socioeconomic pivot to Asia and why the region deserves its newfound confidence.
A product of postwar Japan and virtually unknown internationally, Zainichi literature often explores the nature of exile and the conflict of identity between homes.
A strange and uneven novel, Yukio Mishima's "The Temple of Dawn," the third volume in the "Sea of Fertility" tetralogy, is an elegy to the loss of pureness in the Japanese national spirit.
In "Star," Yukio Mishima confronts issues of celebrity, youth and aging in hypercharged and manically subjective first-person prose.