The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature: From 1945 to the Present, edited by J. Thomas Rimer and Van C. Gessel, with additional selections by poetry editors Amy Vladeck Heinrich and Hiroaki Sato. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007, 864 pp., $59.50 (cloth).

Anthologists must consider not only who to put in (and who to leave out) but also why. Excellence, certainly, but whose excellence? That of the anthologist or those of the common reader, or both?

Here, spanning almost six decades, is the second volume of Columbia University's monumental collection of representative modern Japanese literature, the first volume of which was reviewed in this column on Aug. 14, 2005.

Now complete, the anthology is revealed as certainly the largest, and perhaps the one that best bridges the gulf between the literary expert and the common reader.