A classic introduction to Japanese short fiction is Tuttle’s “Modern Japanese Short Stories.” First published in 1962, the collection remains essential today as a first look into the diverse landscape of contemporary short fiction in Japan and to the many magazines that support their publication.
TUTTLE PUBLISHING, Fiction.
Ivan Morris, acclaimed translator and scholar of Japanese literature, edited the 1962 collection, with a new edition to be published in July. Morris also wrote a comprehensive introduction and penned many of its translations. With a new foreword by Seiji Lippit, the upcoming volume showcases the great breadth of the short story form, and also acts as a bridge to more recent collections.
Since most of the stories included reflect the immediate postwar period, the book acts as a time capsule of the issues and themes reflected in the literature of the day. In doing so, one weakness is the lack of women writers represented: Only two out of 25 authors are women.
Despite this, the collection enthralls with its varied, thoughtful selections: Junichiro Tanizaki’s “Tattoo,” an erotic exploration of art, obsession and power; the juxtaposition of humor and horror in “The Camellia” by Ton Satomi; Tatsuo Nagai’s “Morning Mist,” part essay, part fiction; as well as stories by Yukio Mishima, Osamu Dazai and Ryunosuke Akutagawa.
Offering readers a doorway into the past and gorgeously illustrated by black-and-white Japanese woodblock prints, it is a worthy collection to savor.