Books / Reviews

Drinking down great fiction

by Kris Kosaka

Writers often gather in exotic places, finding inspiration in the unknown. Suzanne Kamata, long-term Japanese resident and writer, honors this literary tradition by editing an annual anthology of work by writers connected to Asia. Titled “Yomimono” (literally, reading thing), Kamata first published the anthology some 15 years ago and typically includes short stories and poetry, with additional graphics or drawings, interviews or essays.

YOMIMONO 15, by Suzanne Kamata. CreateSpace, 2010, 115 pp., $10 (paper)

Many of the writers live in Japan, and much of the subject matter concerns Japan. Some now established writers who were first featured in her collection include Wendy Nelson Tokunaga and Taylor Mignon.

Kamata’s latest effort, “Yomimono 15,” showcases the new advances in self-publishing by Amazon. A glossy, gorgeous cover frames a professional tome, and it’s easy distribution via Amazon has given Kamata the chance to expand her audience.

The inside is equally delightful. My favorites include poetry by Judy Hablesky, especially “Rad. _11,” an example of Hablesky’s beautifully etched translations of Japanese kanji radicals; “Tokyo Chocolate,” by Morowa Yejide, which transcends a typical exchange student adventure in Japan to reveal a contemplation of beginnings and endings, ennui and eternal freshness; and “Gaijin Girl,” by Marcus Bird, a provocative look at Japan’s stereotypical young femme fatale in the guise of a returnee.

Yomimono offers something for every taste and is the perfect gift for writers or would-be writers connected to Asia.

And thanks to advances in printing, a copy is only a click away. Celebrate the literary tradition of expat writers and drink down “Yomimono 15.”