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Preparing for 2012!

Author Theme Reads

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This topic is currently marked as "dormant"—the last message is more than 90 days old. You can revive it by posting a reply.

1lilisin
Nov 6, 2011, 5:33pm Top

Hello everyone.

It's that time of year where I participate the most in the group I created: planning, and not reading!
As life goes I spent the first half of the year reading and then I went into huge study mode and job search mode which meant I wasn't able to participate in my own group. But, when I was reading I realized everything I was reading was Japanese (partly to go with my study/job search). Thus, I've decided to make next year, 2012, a purely Japanese Author Theme Read!

This way, I get to participate and host and maybe help aid in the discussion.
So below, please list which Japanese authors you'd like to see as major or minor theme reads. I have my own ideas but I want to see what you guys are leaning towards first.

Either I'll end up veto-ing everything and making you guys do what I want to do (only natural, right?) or we can get a good list going from here.

Happy listing! Can't wait to see what everyone comes up with.

2kidzdoc
Nov 6, 2011, 6:16pm Top

For the major author, I would suggest, in order, Haruki Murakami, Yukio Mishima, Shusaku Endo, or Kenzaburo Oe. Other authors that I would be interested in reading as mini-authors are (in no particular order) Banana Yoshimoto, Kobo Abe, Saiichi Maruya and Yoko Ogawa. I would also be very interested in reading any new writers who haven't received much attention and have several books available in English translation.

3StevenTX
Nov 6, 2011, 9:01pm Top

I was planning to nominate Haruki Murakami for the year-long author even before the all-Japanese plan was suggested, so naturally I am all in favor of him as our featured author.

My preferences for mini-authors would be: Junichiro Tanizaki, Yasunari Kawabata, Kobo Abe, and Shusaku Endo.

Others I would be interested in are: Ryu Murakami, Kenzaburo Oe, Banana Yoshimoto, and Sawako Ariyoshi.

Yukio Mishima would be a great choice too. The only reason he isn't on my list is that I've already read almost all of his books.

I like the idea of finding a way to introduce other authors whose works in translation may be too limited in number to feature them for an entire quarter.

4Rise
Nov 7, 2011, 12:09am Top

Happy to know that next year will center on the Japanese. It will certainly clear a lot from my reading pile. I think whoever you eventually choose will be excellent.

My major preference is either Natsume Soseki or Yukio Mishima.

Writers I'll gladly try for the first time are Shusaku Endo, Kobo Abe, Kenzaburo Oe, and Osamu Dazai.

I would also like to read more of Yasunari Kawabata and Haruki Murakami.

5socialpages
Nov 7, 2011, 3:19am Top

Love the idea of making 2012 the year for Japanese authors. All of the authors mentioned above sound great to me. I also like Kidzdoc's suggestion that we include new authors whose work is available in english translation.

6rebeccanyc
Nov 7, 2011, 6:56am Top

The only work by a Japanese author I've read is Tun-Huang by Yasushi Inoue, which is about China, so this would be great for me and I have no suggestions to make. The only Japanese book I own is Shipwrecks by Akira Yoshimura, which I believe you recommended, and I will probably read that before the end of this year.

7jfetting
Nov 9, 2011, 6:52pm Top

I don't know many Japanese authors, besides Murakami, Mishima, and Tanizaki. I'd love to see Tanizaki as a mini-author again - I loved reading him last year, and want to read more. Are we repeating authors?

So I suppose I'd vote for either Murakami or Mishima as the main author, although I'd happily read whichever author you pick, lilisin.

8lilisin
Nov 9, 2011, 7:08pm Top

I'm headed to Boston for a career forum this weekend so I'll give my input when I come back. Three days of interviews with Japanese companies in Japanese. I still don't know how I convinced myself that this was a good idea. If you don't hear back from me, well... it was nice knowing you all.

9StevenTX
Nov 9, 2011, 7:49pm Top

#7 - I didn't notice that Tanizaki had already been featured. That was before I joined the group. It wasn't my intention to nominate someone that you had already read, so feel free to ignore the nomination or not as you please.

#8 - Good luck!

10lilisin
Edited: Nov 21, 2011, 9:20pm Top

So that career forum really took everything out of me. Took me a week to recover! But I'm back and ready for some author discussion.

Obvious year long contenders I feel would be:
Haruki Murakami
Banana Yoshimoto (would rather not - my feelings for her are like my feelings for Isabel Allende whom I nixed last year)
Kenzaburo Oe
Natsume Soseki
Yukio Mishima
Yasunari Kawabata
Junichiro Tanizaki (already done but could be repeated)

However, these are obvious only because of their big names. I almost don't like putting such big names as the main authors simply because they are already known and thus don't need so much advertising. However, one can't deny their influence.

I know that this next year I really want to read more of the following and I feel like I'd rather push them on top as main-author contenders:
Shusaku Endo
Kobo Abe

Both would create great conversation but I'm wondering if Abe might not be better as a mini-author considering his style. It might be hard to read several of his books in one year.

I'd like to see Ryu Murakami in the mix as he was basically the father of pushing underground Japan into the forefront. (Hence books like Snakes and Earrings being more accepted these days.)

We could have him as a mini-author then follow him with what I call "Contemporary extravaganza".

Contemporary extravaganza:
With all the books being churned out lately due to Japanese fiction becoming more and more popular overseas, I was thinking maybe we could do a free for all for one quarter and compare the new authors, translators, etc... Looking at the recent translators I feel could be very interesting as I'm noticing some bright starts coming up over others.

Another potential option for a quarter is to do "One hit wonders". Not that these authors have only one book under their name, but more that when it comes to English translations, they might not have as much readily available. Those of you who have followed my threads most likely know these names already.

One hit wonders (at least when it comes to English translations):
Masuji Ibuse
Shohei Ooka
Osama Dazai
Akira Yoshimura

The last two ideas would be an evolution of the concept of "Author Theme Reads" but because it might spur some interesting discussion (which this group needs), I'm not against the idea.

Additional thoughts on this list?

11kidzdoc
Edited: Nov 21, 2011, 10:04pm Top

Of the writers you posted as possible main authors, Shusaku Endo is the one I'm most interested in, after reading his bio on Wikipedia and after I read (and enjoyed) The Sea and Poison, based on your recommendation. I would like to focus on Yukio Mishima, either as a major author or a mini-author, as I've only read one of his novellas. I'm eager to read 1Q84 ASAP, and although I've read most of Haruki Murakami's novels I wouldn't mind rereading several of my favorites, particularly The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Norwegian Wood and A Wild Sheep Chase. Likewise, I want to read The Changeling by Kenzaburo Oe, and would be interested in rereading A Personal Matter, Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids and Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness. I would be far less interested in reading Junichiro Tanizaki, as we just read him last year, and Banana Yoshimoto, who doesn't interest me at all. I haven't read anything by Ryu Murakami, so he would be of interest to me. The other authors you listed are interesting, but I don't feel as strongly about reading them.

Needless to say I'm in favor of a quarter dedicated to new writers, based on my comment in message #2. I'd be less interested in one hit wonders, unless it was combined in a quarterly theme with new writers.

So, I would vote for Shusaku Endo as the major author, Haruki Murakami (preferably in the first quarter), Yukio Mishima and Ryu Murakami as mini-authors, and a New Writers theme for another quarterly read (+/- a combination with One Hit Wonders).

12StevenTX
Nov 22, 2011, 12:19am Top

Instead of just a quarter devoted to new and lesser-known Japanese authors (and those "one-hit wonders") why not the whole year in parallel with the featured authors? Since we probably wouldn't be naming specific new authors, we aren't likely to be reading the same books until one of us introduces an author to the others. Spanning the whole year would give us more flexibility and allow time to follow up on others' recommendations without trying to fit everything into one quarter. Just call it the "Year of Japanese Literature" and invite discussions on any Japanese author at any time.

As to the featured authors, I'm interested in reading more by virtually all of the authors you've named. Based strictly on the number of unread works on my shelf, Haruki Murakami would work best for me as the year-long author. I like the suggestion of Ryu Murakami. I enjoyed Almost Transparent Blue (and Kanehara's Snakes and Earrings) and would like to read more of that sort. I haven't read anything by Endo, and definitely need to get acquainted with his work.

13JanetinLondon
Nov 22, 2011, 7:53am Top

Hi. Just to say I will definitely join this group, since, as you may remember, lilisin, I am trying to learn about Japanese authors and in fact have hardly read any. Anything you choose is fine by me.
Thanks.

14Rise
Edited: Nov 22, 2011, 1:04pm Top

I'm with Steven on the year-long focus on New Japanese Writers + One-Hit Wonders. It could generate more reading ideas.

For the Author Theme, the ones in my immediate TBR are still the writers I mentioned above (message 4). I think that anyone from your shortlist of major authors will make for a great choice. Are we limited to only one major and 4 mini-authors? Maybe we could cover a pair of major authors for the whole year and a pair of mini-authors for every quarter, based on "sub-themes". For example, the whole year can be devoted to the two Murakamis, Ryu and Haruki. One quarter is devoted to writers born in the 19th century like Soseki and Tanizaki (Toson Shimazaki is also considered a major writer of this period). Another quarter for writers born in the 1920s: Shusaku Endo, Kobo Abe, Yukio Mishima. Another for the two Nobel laureates, Kawabata & Oe. Another for female Japanese writers (Yoko Ogawa, Yoko Tawada, Natsuo Kirino, Fumiko Enchi, Yuko Tsushima, etc.).

--edited to fix a wrong name

15rebeccanyc
Nov 22, 2011, 2:04pm Top

I will be happy with whatever you all decide, since I am completely unknowlegeable about Japanese literature and authors.

16jfetting
Nov 22, 2011, 2:05pm Top

I agree with rebeccanyc, for the same reason. I'm just happy to expand my literary horizons.

17lilisin
Nov 27, 2011, 5:53pm Top

As expected it's become hard to come up with selections because everything sounds so fantastic and amazing. I was toying with the idea of making this year follow Jpn literature chronologically like in a class room setting where one would follow a syllabus. But then we couldn't tackle the very much desired contemporary reading. Then I thought maybe we should focus on 1850s and up which is basically what is considered Modern and Postwar literature but that encompasses so much as well. So it's hard to choose.

So, this year is definitely just going to be one of those (almost) free-for-all let's focus on Jpn literature kind of years. Either it'll be a huge mess with no discussion, or we'll have a great year with so much discussion we won't be able to contain ourselves. I do include an "almost" though 'cause I do want to keep a main year-long author and four mini's so as to make sure we at least focus on particular authors. Now, that part is still up to debate and voting.

I think I'd like to choose the main author out of the following three:
Kobo Abe
Shusaku Endo
Kenzaburo Oe

Let me explain why the likes of Yoshimoto, Haruki Murakami and Mishima aren't on there. It's because during the above discussion, everyone mentioned those authors. Thus, even if you've read all of their books already or haven't read one, you at least already know of them. So, let's give some other authors (who are equally famous actually) get some of the spotlight. And I feel these three have great styles to allow for discussion. I was going to make it four options with Natsume Soseki being included but his works, although famous and great, have me less inspired for some reason.

Please feel free to disagree with me. If there is no disagreement we can go ahead and vote.

As for mini-authors I'm liking these as they hit Pre-war lit, Post-war lit and modern lit:
Ryu Murakami (defined the Japanese counter-culture literature)
Natsume Soseki (the author of Meiji period)
Yukio Mishima (blends modern and traditional styles - can explore that transition)
Yasunari Kawabata (Nobel Prize winner - what is considered "Japanese" literature which we can explore what that means)

Out of these four I'm keeping Ryu Murakami for sure as one of the mini-authors. The other three slots can be the three mentioned and/or have some substituted by the two that lose out to the main author theme.

I'm leaving out Banana Yoshimoto and Haruki Murakami due to their already noted fame.

Now, with that done, like I mentioned before, I really think it would be fun to have a separate thread(s) for everyone else. Anything Japanese or Japanese-related that we read can be in those threads to enhance the discussion of the focused-on authors. Could be fun.

And I'm totally for having a group read of 1Q84 at the beginning of the year.

Agree? Disagree? Thoughts?

18kidzdoc
Nov 27, 2011, 6:29pm Top

I agree with you, we should focus on lauded but less well known authors for the year long theme. I've read multiple books by Kobo Abe and Kenzaburo Oe, and I'm also interested in Shusaku Endo, so he gets my vote as the main author. As I've said (I think), I've only read one novella by Yukio Mishima, so I would vote for him as a mini-author, along with Ryu Murakami (as I haven't read any of his books), and Natsume Soseki and Yasunari Kawabata (as I doubt that I've read more than one of their books).

I'm very much in favor of a group read of 1Q84 at the beginning of the year, and I would prefer that over a quarterly or year long focus on Murakami, now that you mention it.

19AnnieMod
Nov 27, 2011, 9:52pm Top

So we are concentrating on prose authors only? Manga is kinda... popular in Japan after all. :)

PS: I am joining in regardless of selected authors - I was just wondering.

20lilisin
Nov 27, 2011, 10:20pm Top

Manga is definitely VERY popular. In fact, my own bookshelves are covered in various series and tomes. However, it is such a huge universe that I think I'd rather focus on either prose or nonfiction. If there's interest in going in that direction I'm not against a separate thread that tackles that. But I don't want to exhaust our attention on the Japanese comic industry.

Glad to hear you'll be joining us!

21AnnieMod
Nov 28, 2011, 12:22am Top

:) OK then - makes sense. It's just a huge part of the Japanese literature - which cannot be said for the Western canon in any way or form. So just a thought - that's all.

If someone wants to go for manga, I am all in for that as well - catching up with it these days anyway.

22StevenTX
Nov 28, 2011, 12:39am Top

A couple of thoughts and a suggestion.

First, it would be a shame, if we pick Endo, for example, as the featured author to then omit Abe and Oe altogether.

Second, with the exception of Mishima, none of these guys has very many works available in English translation, so it would be difficult to sustain any one of them as a year-long author.

So my suggestion, which changes the format a bit, would be somthing like this:

No single author featured year-long
Q1: 1Q84 plus Ryu Murakami
Q2: Kobo Abe (primary) plus Natsume Soseki (secondary)
Q3: Shusaku Endo (primary) plus Yukio Mishima (secondary)
Q4: Kenzaburo Oe (primary) plus Yasunari Kawabata (secondary)

In addition there would be the year-long thread for authors not on the list (or a separate thread for each author).

The pairings and sequence of the above are arbitrary--I just took them in the order you listed them.

23Rise
Nov 28, 2011, 12:55am Top

17:

I like your reasoning behind the selection of the mini-authors, the way we get to explore a different side of J-lit with Ryu M., Soseki, Mishima, and Kawabata. I've read two books by Ryu Murakami, which I very much enjoyed. In fact I prefer his novels to Haruki. So I'm all for them. For the main author, I'm inclined toward Abe Kobo or Endo Shusaku.

24lilisin
Nov 28, 2011, 2:11am Top

Oh, I'm not suggesting omitting Abe nor Oe at all.

The other three slots can be the three mentioned and/or have some substituted by the two that lose out to the main author theme.

So if we'd rather do Abe or Oe over one of the other mini-authors (except Ryu), I'm totally up for that. I would totally replace Soseki in a heart beat with one of those two.

I think I still want to limit each quarter to a designated mini-author. But there's freedom with the other free-for-all all year long thread(s) to do whatever else we might want to do. So any authors which aren't designated will still get a chance to be discussed.

And on the contrary, Abe, Oe and Endo have plenty available in English for discussion.
Endo:
Silence, The Samurai, A life of Jesus, The Final Martyrs, Deep River, The Sea and Poison, Scandal, Volcano, Wonderful Fool, The Girl I Left Behind

Oe:
A Personal Matter, Nip the Buds Shoot the Kids, The Changeling, Teach us to ... short stories, The Silent Cry, Hiroshima Notes, A Quiet Life, Somersault, Rouse Up O Young Men of the New Age!

Abe:
The Woman in the Dunes, Secret Rendezvous, The Face of Another, The Box Man, The Ruined Map, Kangaroo Notebook, The Ark Sakura, Beyond the Curve, Three Plays by Kobo Abe

So it'll be a great reading year!

25StevenTX
Nov 28, 2011, 9:01am Top

I rethought my suggestion overnight and was going to delete the post, but you had already replied to it. Sorry to put you to the bother.

26lilisin
Nov 28, 2011, 2:03pm Top

It was no bother at all! In fact, listing all those books made me realize how many more there are out there that I didn't know about.

27lilisin
Nov 29, 2011, 1:13am Top

Speaking of 1Q84, it doesn't look like we're the only ones who will be reading it. It's currently ranked at number 5 of top books LT members are currently reading.

28arubabookwoman
Nov 29, 2011, 1:17pm Top

I like Endo as the primary author, and would be fine with any of the others for quarterly authors.

29technodiabla
Dec 4, 2011, 12:33am Top

I own (and therefore am like to read) Tanazaki, Mishima, Murakami, Oe, Soseki, Abe. Of those I have greatly enjoyed the Mishima I've read already and am particularly interested in Tanazaki.

30JanetinLondon
Dec 5, 2011, 2:37pm Top

Can anyone suggest an easy "introduction to Japanese literature" and a fairly short "introduction to Japanese history" that I could read as background before I tackle the authors? Ones I have seen suggested previously are as below - are there better ones? Thanks.

Rimer, J. Thomas - A Reader’s Guide to Japanese Literature
Morton, W. Scott - Japan: Its History and Culture

31kidzdoc
Dec 5, 2011, 9:54pm Top

>30 JanetinLondon: I can recommend two short books, both by Donald Keene, one of the leading American experts on Japanese literature:

Five Modern Japanese Novelists: "Five Modern Japanese Novelists is a short introduction to five 20th century Japanese authors whom the author befriended during his years in Japan: Junichiro Tanizaki, Yasunari Kawabata (the first winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature from Japan), Yukio Mishima, Kobo Abe and Ryutaro Shiba. Keene provides brief biographies, interesting personal recollections, and short analyses of their major works. This would be a good book for someone who is unfamiliar with these authors, but those seeking in depth analyses of their works should seek out other scholarly works by Keene..." (from my review)

The Pleasures of Japanese Literature: "Perhaps no one is more qualified to write about Japanese culture than Donald Keene, considered the leading interpreter of that nation's literature to the Western world. The author, editor, or translator of nearly three dozen books of criticism and works of literature, Keene now offers an enjoyable and beautifully written introduction to traditional Japanese culture for the general reader.

"The book acquaints the reader with Japanese aesthetics, poetry, fiction, and theater, and offers Keene's appreciations of these topics. Based on lectures given at the New York Public Library, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the University of California, Los Angeles, the essays -though written by a renowned scholar- presuppose no knowledge of Japanese culture. Keene's deep learning, in fact, enables him to construct an overview as delightful to read as it is informative." (from Amazon.com)

32Rise
Dec 5, 2011, 11:28pm Top

>30 JanetinLondon: - I've been dipping into The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories. It has a good thematic introduction on the genre and has assembled stories from a great bunch of writers. Modern Japan: A Very Short Introduction, recommended to me by a friend, may also be a good primer.

>31 kidzdoc: - I have Donald Keene's Some Japanese Portraits. He's quite a prolific Japanese scholar.

33EBT1002
Dec 5, 2011, 11:40pm Top

Darryl and Rise -
Thanks for the tips. I put The Pleasures of Japanese Literature on hold at the library and suspended it until the last week of December. I may be mostly a lurker and part-time participant in the Author Theme Reads for 2012, but it does seem like some reading in advance will enhance my enjoyment and deepen my understanding of what I'm able to read.

34JanetinLondon
Dec 6, 2011, 6:53am Top

Thanks for those suggestions. I will see what I can get. I'm excited for this challenge.

35lilisin
Dec 8, 2011, 6:55pm Top

I second the suggestion of The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories. Some stories won't make as much sense without a bit more knowledge of the period in which the stories were written or the style in which the story is written but in all, it has some wonderful authors in it. In fact, I might go back and read a few more stories myself.

I've never read a general all inclusive Japanese history book but I agree that any work by Donald Keene should be of worth.
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/ed20110423a1.html

> EBT1002
Feel free to come in and out as you like. We'll be around all year!

36lilisin
Dec 10, 2011, 7:46pm Top

As one member asked so that they can prepare their Christmas list, here's the final decision on the authors for 2012! Note that we're doing four mini-authors instead of three and that I replaced Kawabata with Abe since we're doing Endo as the year-long.

Year-long Author: Shusaku Endo
Mini-author 1 (Jan-Mar): Natsume Soseki
Mini-author 2 (Apr-June): Kobe Abe
Mini-author 3 (July-Sep): Ryu Murakami
Mini-author 4 (Oct-Dec): Yukio Mishima

+ Year long thread on Japanese authors in general.

Group read of 1Q84 starts in January.

37jfetting
Dec 10, 2011, 8:00pm Top

All of these are brand spanking new authors for me, so I'm excited for 2012!

38kidzdoc
Edited: Dec 10, 2011, 8:03pm Top

Thanks, lilisin! I'm thrilled that Endo will be the major author in 2012, and I'm looking forward to reading each of the four mini-authors. I have two novels by Soseki already, Kokoro and The Three-Cornered World, so I'll read one of them in January. I have 1Q84, and I'm eager to get started on it next month.

39rebeccanyc
Edited: Dec 11, 2011, 10:09am Top

As someone completely unfamiliar with Japanese writing (and history and culture), I would welcome suggestions of which novels by these writers those of you who are more knowledgeable about Japanese literature would recommend.

40lilisin
Dec 10, 2011, 10:46pm Top

To start with the first two authors of the year, Soseki's most famous and most readily available works are Kokoro and I am a Cat. His And Then is also super famous but not available in your regular bookstore.

Shusaku Endo's most famous are Silence and Deep River. I have not read those two but have read his The Sea and Poison which I have been recommending since reading it a few months ago.

41AnnieMod
Dec 11, 2011, 12:04am Top

5 authors I had not even heard of (ok - at least had never read a book from them). That will be a fun year.

42StevenTX
Dec 11, 2011, 9:35am Top

I've just placed the last (Ha!) of my Amazon orders, so I should start the year with:

6 by Endo (haven't read any by him), and
3 each by Abe and R. Murakami (have previously read 1 each)

I've already read Kokoro and I Am a Cat as well as all but one of Mishima's novels, so those quarters I'll focus on other Japanese authors such as Oe and Kawabata. (And 1Q84 of course.)

43kidzdoc
Dec 11, 2011, 10:41am Top

For those with e-readers, there is a free version of Botchan by Natsume Soseki:

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Botchan-Master-Darling-ebook/dp/B000JQV1Y4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=U...
Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/8868

44StevenTX
Dec 11, 2011, 10:56am Top

Thanks, Darryl. I had Botchan on my used book store wishlist. It hadn't occurred to me to check for a possible free copy. I'll definitely put in on the Nook and add it to my list.

45EBT1002
Dec 11, 2011, 11:33am Top

I'm there with Rebecca - excited about the year's five authors and grateful for the recommendations about where to start. Thanks, lilisin, for organizing us!

46rebeccanyc
Edited: Dec 11, 2011, 12:26pm Top

Thanks for the recommendations. I've just ordered The Sea and Poison and Kokoro for starters. And, although not by one of the theme authors, I'm hoping to read Shipwrecks by Akira Yoshimura, which I believe you also recommended lilisin, by the end of this year to get myself ready for more Japanese authors in 2012.

47kaixo
Edited: Dec 11, 2011, 5:17pm Top

lilisin, thank you, your selection for the upcoming year just convinced me to join the group and become its 100th member.

Shusaku Endo, Kobo Abe and Yukio Mishima are among my most favorite Japanese authors and probably writers in general. The theme year will probably make me re-read some of their novels. Of Endo I've only read When I Whistle and The Samurai so far. Sea and Poison will very probably be next, as it touches on the topic of Japanese warcrimes and medical experiments on humans, a topic I got much interested in recently after reading Japan Inc., a captivating and well researched thriller by Karl Pilny (which so far only seems to be available in German).

Of Soseki I've only read Kokoro and Botchan so far, and parts of I am a cat. But the theme read should motivate me to start some of his other novels that already populate my shelves.

48lilisin
Dec 11, 2011, 4:50pm Top

100th member! Congratulations and welcome to the group!
And no need to thank me. My reasons for choosing a Japanese theme year are purely selfish in that that's all I read anyway. :)

49arubabookwoman
Edited: Dec 11, 2011, 5:47pm Top

So glad Endo "won" author of the year award. :) However, I've read more of his novels than the four quarterly authors put together, so I'm really glad they were chosen as well!This thread on Reading Globally contains recommendations and discussions of works by Japanese authors, including the ones chosen here for 2012:

http://www.librarything.com/topic/53012#t

(Lilisin--I'm sure you remember because you were quite active in that thread).

50lilisin
Dec 11, 2011, 5:52pm Top

Of course I remember! I led that thread! It was one of my favorite discussions as well which is why I wanted to try to emulate it again and lengthen it.

51arubabookwoman
Edited: Dec 11, 2011, 5:56pm Top

I forgot to add this link, which is the discussion part of theread:

http://www.librarything.com/topic/53044

52DoraWu
Dec 12, 2011, 3:03pm Top

101st member :) I just joined LT yesterday and I'm really glad I stumbled upon this group. Ever since taking Japanese language/culture courses, I can't stop myself from wanting to read Japanese authors ^^. Happily joining in for Author Theme Reads 2012!

53lilisin
Dec 12, 2011, 3:22pm Top

Welcome to LT, DoraWu! You'll find it's a great place to be for discussing books, gathering inspiration and increasing your TBR (To Be Read) pile.

54hemlokgang
Dec 13, 2011, 11:04am Top

I am in for the year long author, Shusaku Endo! I find it overwhelming and somewhat restrictive to take on a committment to the additional authors although they all represent great options. I have thoroughly enjoyed the attempt to read a body of work by one author and the depth of understanding it brings. See you in the new year!

55EBT1002
Edited: Dec 13, 2011, 4:07pm Top

Getting ready for 2012, I just purchased three books for the year-long and one for the first quarter:
Endo:
Deep River and
Silence and
The Samurai.

Natsume:
I Am a Cat.

56dharmalita
Dec 14, 2011, 12:22pm Top

I am very excited for next year's reading list. I fizzled out the second half of this year, but now I'm getting ready to experience Japanese literature which I've wanted to do for a while now. I own a couple of Soseki's novels, but have not read them yet. In fact, the only Japanese novel that I can remember reading is The Tale of Genji and that was for school. Sad, I know.

I'm going to start on 1Q84 as soon as I can get it.

57rebeccanyc
Dec 17, 2011, 10:35am Top

In anticipation of this theme read, I've just finished Shipwrecks by Akira Yoshimura, enthusiastically recommended by lilisin earlier this year, which I found haunting and beautifully written.

58hemlokgang
Dec 19, 2011, 11:40pm Top

I have purchased The Samurai, Silence, and Scandal for the Endo read. I look forward to exploring the work of an author who is new to me.

59EBT1002
Dec 27, 2011, 4:15pm Top

I picked up The Pleasures of Japanese Literature by Donald Keene at the library today. It looks like a good little book to enhance my understanding and enjoyment of the books I've selected for the first quarter.

60technodiabla
Jan 1, 2012, 11:45am Top

Well I don't have access to Endo (without paying full cover price, which I never do) so I'm going to start with Kokoro by Natsume Soseki.

61kidzdoc
Jan 1, 2012, 12:04pm Top

>60 technodiabla: I bought three of Endo's novels from Strand Book Store on Boxing Day that were published by Tuttle Classics, which were new copies but significantly discounted from their list prices: Volcano ($7.95), When I Whistle ($6.95) and Stained Glass Elegies ($5.95). Those were the only ones on the shelves in the bookshop, but I was able to order Deep River ($6.95) and The Golden Country: A Play About Christian Martyrs in Japan ($6.95), along with several similarly priced books by Yukio Mishima, from the store's web site, www.strandbooks.com I hope that this helps!

62technodiabla
Jan 1, 2012, 2:30pm Top

>61 kidzdoc: Thanks I'll check it out. My local library has nothing and there are ZERO bookstores in my town.

63AnneDC
Jan 1, 2012, 5:26pm Top

I have Silence by Endo and Kokoro by Natsume Soseki on loan from the library so I will be starting with those in January. I also have Botchan on my Kindle (thanks to Darryl for the tip). Japanese authors are unexplored territory for me so I am looking forward to this group.
I got 1Q84 as a Christmas gift so I will try to participate in the group read too.

64lilisin
Jan 1, 2012, 9:14pm Top

Welcome to the new year everyone! I'm looking forward to a great year of reading with everyone. I already have so many little comments I want to make to get our discussion going. But first I have to finish recovering from the New Years weekend and get some sleep. Otherwise, let's get this reading party started!

65technodiabla
Jan 2, 2012, 2:17pm Top

I ordered 4 Endo novels from various Abebooks sellers. It's my first experience buying this way; I hope the books are OK-- 3 were only listed as "Fair" condition. I guess I can't complain too much since I spent only $15 for 4 books including shipping. I'll start one of them as soon as I complete Kokoro, which should take only a few days. It is a highly addictive novel.

66lilisin
Jan 2, 2012, 5:42pm Top

To try and keep the group active this year and on people's maps I've started a "What are you reading now?" thread so that we can keep track of who is reading what and wait in anticipation for the wonderful reviews typical of the members of this group.

I have also started a few other threads to help initiate discussion.

There are no set rules here other than the selected authors so feel free to start any threads that you find relevant to the discussion at hand. This can range from intricacies of the Japanese language, to culture questions, to a thread about comics as I know some have expressed interest in.

67rebeccanyc
Mar 15, 2012, 9:25am Top

With April around the corner, I would love some suggestions for Kobe Abe novels to start with.

68lilisin
Mar 15, 2012, 2:21pm Top

The Kobo Abe book that is read in every Japanese literature course would have to be The Woman in the Dunes so I think that would be a great place to start. After that I would recommend The Box Man. It's a more difficult read than Dunes, in that it is harder to tell the difference between fact and fiction, but that's what makes the book so amazing. What is real? What is the true story? What's the real reason behind the character's situation. Really fascinating and probably becoming one of my favorite books of all time.

I will probably be reading The Ark Sakura. I hear it's quite grotesque so I'm very curious to see as to how!

69lilisin
Mar 25, 2012, 4:47pm Top

April is coming up so feel free to start reading Kobo Abe. I'm so excited to read another of his books again!!!

70rebeccanyc
Mar 25, 2012, 5:22pm Top

On your recommendation, I've bought The Woman in the Dunes and The Box Man. I have some other (non-theme read) books I want to read, so I probably won't start until April. What do you think of the movie of The Woman in the Dunes? I've added it to my Netflix queue.

71rebeccanyc
Sep 7, 2012, 11:01am Top

With October coming up (and with my having only had the stomach for one Ryu Murakami), I'd be grateful for recommendations of where to start with Yukio Mishima so I can start looking for books.

72StevenTX
Sep 7, 2012, 12:31pm Top

I've read nine of Mishima's novels. My highest recommendation for starters would be The Temple of the Golden Pavilion.

Confessions of a Mask, his first novel, is autobiographical and so would tell you much about Mishima as a person and his unorthodox position as a homosexual and nationalist

The Sailor Who Fell from Grace from the Sea is very good as well, but has some Ryu-esque elements you may not care for.

The Sound of Waves is good, but it is basically a Greek myth transported to a Japanese setting, so it wouldn't be where I'd recommend you start.

Spring Snow is a story of relationships in a rural setting that reminds me of some of Tanizaki for its emotional coldness, but a very good novel.

All of the above are quite short and easily read in a day.

Mishima's magnum opus is of course The Sea of Fertility, a tetralogy that deals with both national and spiritual issues in a deeper and more abstract way than his other novels. With its theme of reincarnation and an eventual trip to India it bears comparison with Shusaku Endo's Deep River, but Endo and Mishima are opposites in other ways. This is his most important work, but with over 1000 pages overall you have to block out some serious time.

73rebeccanyc
Sep 7, 2012, 12:47pm Top

Thanks, Steven. I guess you're a Mishima fan! I think I'll start with something shorter and move on to the tetralogy if I like him.

74lilisin
Oct 1, 2012, 2:54pm Top

October is here so it's time to pull out those Mishima books! Happy reading!

Also, either in late October or early November we'll start discussing plans for next year.

75rebeccanyc
Oct 1, 2012, 5:13pm Top

I have The Temple of the Golden Pavilion waiting for me on the TBR, following Steven's recommendation above, and also hope to read some more Endo.

76kidzdoc
Edited: Oct 2, 2012, 6:13am Top

I also plan to read The Temple of the Golden Pavilion this month, after I read Confessions of a Mask. I have all 4 books in The Sea of Fertility tetralogy, and I intend to read 2 books per month in November and December.

I'll read Foreign Studies and When I Whistle by Shusaku Endo this month as well.

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