Contemporary Japanese Literature: An Anthology of Fiction, Film, and Other Writing Since 1945

by Howard Hibbett

Paperback, 1977




New York : Knopf , 1977.


Lovers of Japanese and Asian literature, rejoice! This superb survey of one of the most active and interesting literary scenes of the twentieth century is back in print.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Cecrow
The work sampled here appears to come from a wide variety of well-known Japanese authors, all of whom can be found on Wikipedia: Yoshikichi Furui, Taeko Kono, Shotaro Yasuoka, etc. I approached this anthology with interest in the subject, but no background knowledge. The only name I recognized prior to reading was the famous director Akira Kurosawa, whose screenplay "Ikiru" is included (with the welcome insertion of still frames in the margins).

From the very first story, I found I liked the close character studies and the plots depending almost not at all on action. I thought I recognized some Western themes (or perhaps just parallel Japanese themes), such as the absurdist tradition in the play "Friends" by Kobo Abe. I especially liked the strong writing of Kurahashi‘s “To Die at the Estuary” and Nagai‘s “Brief Encounter”. “American Hijiki” is a virtuoso performance of translation, as that comprises its subject matter. The weakest story for me was the award-winning "The American School" by Nobuo Kojima: whether the writing or the translation, I felt the characters formed inconsistent impressions of one another and some ideas were not followed through.

This volume is a lucky find if you come across it, and a good introduction to Japanese literature, even if it's not quite so "contemporary" anymore (published 1977).
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