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Osamu Dazai packs wry humor and warm humanity into seven short stories, as his collection, “Blue Bamboo,” inventively blurs the line between fantasy and reality.

The first and last stories feature a realistically quirky group of siblings who take turns at competitive, oral storytelling. The resulting story-within-a- story narratives firmly establishes the tone for the entire collection by slyly acknowledging the craft, ego and crazy inventiveness that narrative creativity engenders. Inspired equally by Chinese folk tales and mundane aspects of Japanese life, Dazai’s other characters include chrysanthemum fairies and vengeful mermaids alongside pedantic scholars and prideful gardeners.

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