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

by Howard Hibbett

Paper Book, 1977




New York : Knopf , 1977.

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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