This year witnessed plenty of struggle and loss, but there was at least some good news: 2020 was the year the world embraced the considerable talents of Mieko Kawakami. Readers will therefore be delighted to know that her novel, “Heaven,” will be published in English in May 2021. Translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd, it tells the story of teenage bullying from the point of view of a 14-year-old boy. Kawakami is a writer who doesn’t shy away from hard truths and painful experiences, so this will not be an easy read, but it’s guaranteed to be a rewarding one.

Hard truths and painful experiences could be the subtitle of “Black Box” by Shiori Ito, translated by Allison Markin Powell. In 2015, Ito, a junior journalist, accused prominent reporter Noriyuki Yamaguchi of rape. As all too often happens in Japan, the police refused to prosecute. Ito went public with her story, and became a catalyst for the #MeToo movement in Japan. In 2019, she finally won a civil case against Yamaguchi. “Black Box” is Ito’s account of the events and promises to be a major publication when it’s released in July.

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