Five ideas for bookworms seeking Japan-related content, whether it be fiction or nonfiction, books or manga:

  • South Korean author Jung-myung Lee’s thriller “The Investigation” takes place during World War II in Fukuoka Prison, where the guards are all Japanese, the prisoners all Korean. The book explores the power of literature and humanity in the darkest of times, writes Iain Maloney, as a young Japanese guard seeks to track down the killer of a sadistic colleague.
  • The work of Yoshiharu Tsuge, one of Japan’s masters of literary manga, is now available in English thanks to translator Ryan Holmberg. The second Tsuge translation to be released, “The Man Without Talent,” explores the daily life, meditations and human interactions of the author’s cartoon stand-in as he attempts to support his family through various doomed endeavors, writes Eric Margolis.
Sakamoto Ryoma: The Samurai Who Ended the Samurai | UNSEEN JAPAN
Sakamoto Ryoma: The Samurai Who Ended the Samurai | UNSEEN JAPAN
  • “An I-Novel,” is “both a fictional autobiography and a memoir, but not confessional in the way many shishо̄setsu are,” author Minae Mizumura, who left Japan for the U.S. as a child, tells reviewer Nicolas Gattig. “More than a personal tale, I wanted to tell the story of a nation, to dramatize Japan’s turn from a poor country to a rich one.”
  • Marius B. Jansen’s “Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration” brings the man and his time to dramatic life. Modern-day leaders could learn from figures such as Sakamoto — who listened to his enemies and even changed his mind, and in turn changed the fate of Japan, writes Iain Maloney.
  • Many authors writing about Japan use the country’s cuisine as a central plot point. Claire Williamson presents five food-centric books perfect for a lazy afternoon — four fiction, one not — courtesy of such writers as Banana Yoshimoto, Matt Goulding and Ellis Avery. Itadakimasu!