War-hardened samurai gather in the deepest night, extinguishing a candle with each kaidan (supernatural tale) they whisper. At the end of the 100th tale, when the room plunges into blackness with a single breath, otherworldly spirits are summoned. Or so goes the popular Edo Period (1603-1868) game, Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai (A Gathering of 100 Supernatural Tales).
It’s a deliciously sinister game for storytellers, and it’s no surprise that kaidan or kwaidan, as it is sometimes transliterated, caught the attention of two modern American storytellers. Hard-boiled, multifaceted writer Joel Rose — best known for his satirical thriller, “Kill Kill Faster Faster” and his 2001 urban historical, “New York Sawed in Half” — paired up with the late Anthony Bourdain to pen “Anthony Bourdain’s Hungry Ghosts,” an illustrated collection of fright and food evoking the kaidan tradition. Bourdain’s work in cuisine and culture garnered fans across the globe as he touched our shared humanity. For the legion of fans still mourning his untimely death earlier this year, “Hungry Ghosts” proves a fitting finale for this master storyteller and culinary commentator.
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