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Edited by Laura Miller and Rebecca Copeland, “Diva Nation” celebrates the diversity and impact of Japan’s wow-women. From historical examples like Queen Himiko and Izumo no Okuni, the founder of kabuki, to modern pop culture stars like World Figure Skating champion Mao Asada and avant-garde performance artist and musician Yoko Ono, each essay highlights an influential Japanese woman.

Miller and Copeland are both professors in the greater St. Louis area, specializing in Japanese studies and literature, respectively. The idea for the book came from a university symposium focusing on Japanese women, but the collected essays appeal far beyond academia. At turns witty and wise, frothy and fascinating, there’s something for anyone interested in gender studies, Japanese culture or the shadowy layers of its subculture. Transgender beauty icon Ikko is featured, as is actress, novelist and manga artist Shungiku Uchida, who revolutionized women’s sexuality in Japan with her open appraisals of everything from incest to masturbation.

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