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That the Western world has lost interest in Japan, and particularly in Japanese literature, and is turning its attention more and more to the colossus across the sea (China, not America) is a constant plaint on the part of Japan specialists and translators.

This book may go some way toward balancing the situation, since it nicely bridges Japan and China, the past — the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Communist revolution, the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution,” the Tiananmen democracy movement and its crushing by the Chinese government — and the present, meaning in this context the late 1980s and ’90s in the aftermath of Tiananmen.

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