Japanese Literature Challenge

Dolce Bellezza is hosting a Japanese Literature Challenge. I’ve had my eye on this one for quite awhile, but couldn’t decide if I really had the time to take it on. But my hectic November is over. Most of my holiday shopping is done (although not mailed yet). So I’ve decided to accept her challenge and attempt to read 3 pieces of Japanese literature between now and the end of January!

Japanese literature has been a real interest to me for a long time, so I have quite a few books by Japanese authors already sitting on my shelves. I’m not going to choose my beautifully bound, two-volume boxed edition of Tale of Genji because that one will have to be a summer project (or a challenge unto itself!). I thought I might reread Woman in the Dunes, and then watch the fantastic film version again, but the book has been loaned to someone and not returned. So it’s time to dust off three other books and start reading! Here are my choices:

  • The Makioka Sisters, by Junichiro Tanizaki (a book that’s been on my shelf for several years, a gift for participating in the University of Washington’s East Asia Seminar for teachers.)
  • Thousand Cranes, by Yasunari Kawabata (an author that won the Nobel Prize for Literature)
  • Twenty-four Eyes, by Sakae Tsuboi (Tanabata recommended this book, and because it’s a story about a teacher, I thought it sounded really interesting.)
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8 thoughts on “Japanese Literature Challenge

  1. Chris

    So glad you’re joining this one, Robin! I’m reading some Kawabata too for this challenge. I’m reading First Snow on Fuji which is a collection of short stories. Hoping to enjoy that one! What little Japanese lit I’ve read, I’ve loved, so I’m sure I’ll enjoy this challenge!

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  2. Bellezza

    Robin, I’m so glad you’re joining, too! Lots of people are reading Snow on Fuji so that will be lots of fun to discuss. I’ve never heard of The Woman in The Dunes before, but when I posted it in my suggestion list it sounded so fascinating! I went to the library to get a copy, and alas, there were none. I’ll probably have to get it from Amazon.com and then see the movie as you recommend it. Thanks for the reinforcement of it’s validity. Also, I’ll look into the Tales of Genji; I had no idea it was a two volume set!

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  3. Kay

    Robin, I remember picking up The Makioka Sisters several years ago at Borders and thinking about purchasing it. I did not but I am very interested to hear what you have to say about it. I told Bellezza that I couldn’t join the challenge this year but if she does it next year I’m going to try.

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  4. tanabata

    I hope you like Twenty-four Eyes. I’ve heard good things about it but haven’t read it yet. Maybe I’ll end up reading it too, especially after hearing what you think of it.
    I could certainly use a Tale of Genji challenge to finally get it read.

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  5. Robin

    Hey Chris. I’m looking forward to your reviews and comparing notes on Kawabata. First Snow sounds really good, and I really like short stories. I already had Thousand Cranes on my bookshelf, but if I like it, I’ll have to read First Snow, too.

    Hi Bellezza, Woman in the Dunes is an amazing story. I read it many years ago and found it fascinating. It’s really powerful, and I liked the movie, too. I actually have 2 copies of Tale of Genji–my old Modern Library version (Arthur Waley’s translation) from ages ago (never read), and the two-volume (new translation by Royall Tyler) set that is so beautiful. It sits on my shelf looking lovely. I need to read it!

    Hi Kay, I’ve heard all good things about The Makioka Sisters, so I’m glad I’m finally going to read it. It’s hard to resist these challenges!

    Hi Tanabata. Your mention of Twenty-Four Eyes sparked my interest, so I’ll definitely let you know how I like it. I’ll bet there would be enough people interested in reading Tale of Genji that we could take it on as a group!

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  6. jenclair

    I read The Tale of Murasaki by Liza Dalby a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. Intended to follow up with Tales of Genji, but never did. 😦

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  7. Robin

    Hi jenclair. I did the very same thing…read The Tale of Murasaki, really enjoyed it, intended to read Tale of Genji, but never did. I still really like to read it.

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  8. reader kay

    Looking forward to reading your commentary on Thousand Cranes. I am reading it as well for the challenge and it is my first Kawabata.

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