August honors the dead in Japan, so it's fitting that Kazufumi Shiraishi's raw discourse on mortality makes its English debut this month. Originally published in 2008, "Me Against the World" breaks from Shiraishi's fictional works, offering the author's undiluted musings on life. As told The Japan Times in a recent interview: "I had tried to include the ideas of this work in all of my previous novels, but I was at a point where I wanted to thoroughly sort out my thoughts and record them in one book, so I wrote the whole thing in one go. It took about a week, like writing an extended memo to myself."

Me Against the World, by Kazufumi Shiraishi120 pagesDalkey Archive Press, Nonfiction.

Using his background in fiction, Shiraishi created a loose narrative form. In a constructed "Publisher's Forward," a fictional journalist provides a brief explanation of a Mr. K and their friendship to introduce the manuscript he has inherited after Mr. K's sudden death. The rest of the book is the manuscript itself, a series of entwining, metaphorical reflections on the biggest questions in life. For Shiraishi, these questions have preoccupied him since childhood. As he explains: "Why are we here? What is the reason for us to be on this earth? It's no joking matter. This is something I've been thinking about from the time I was young. As a child, I really wanted to know."