A catch-up on news and reviews from the world of books, from fiction to academic works:
- Two female novelists won the prestigious Akutagawa and Naoki awards last month, for works depicting a girl’s obsession with a male idol and a poignant collection of stories set in old Japan. Rin Usami, 21, won the Akutagawa Prize for up-and-comers for “Oshi, Moyu” (“Cheer, Burn”), while Naka Saijo won the Naoki Prize for fiction for “Urasabishigawa” (“Lonesome River”).
- Set in a near future where AI robots are affordable but still novel enough to cause alarm, Kazuo Ishiguro’s latest novel centers on Klara, an AF (artificial friend), entering the life of Josie, a sickly adolescent. “Klara and the Sun” is both a new Ishiguro novel and a classic Ishiguro novel. If you aren’t already a fan then this book is unlikely to change your mind, writes Iain Maloney.
- “Water, Wood, and Wild Things: Learning Craft and Cultivation in a Japanese Mountain Town” is part-memoir, travelogue, ethnography and cookbook, writes Joan Bailey. In her book, Hannah Kirshner weaves together local history and profiles to explore the intricate connections between craft and the natural environment in an Ishikawa town that balances tradition with modernity.
- Laura Kriska provides a roadmap for improving workplace communication in “The Business of We,” which is full of insights from her experiences of navigating Japanese corporate culture — a period that sparked a lifelong mission to bridge cultural divides in the workplace. The result is a book of refreshing clarity and vision. Its lessons will benefit the ever-changing workplace, writes Patrick Parr.
- Is Japan an “immigrant country”? In “Immigrant Japan,” Gracia Liu-Farrer argues it is, drawing on interviews with over 200 people who entered Japan as adults or grew up here as children of migrants. Life in Japan might be a love story for some, but as the book shows, for many the relationship is more like a marriage, reassuringly comfortable at times but beset with challenges, writes Megha Wadhwa.