Recommendations for essential Japanese fiction to read? (not Murakami)
Book mentions in this thread
The Memory Police
by Yoko OgawaShortlisted for the International Booker Prize 2020, an enthralling Orwellian novel about the terrors of state surveillance from one of Japan's greatest writers. 'Beautiful... Haunting' Sunday Times 'A dreamlike story of dystopia' Jia Tolentino __________ Hat, ribbon, bird rose. To the people on the island, a disappeared thing no longer has any meaning. It can be burned in the garden, thrown in the river or handed over to the Memory Police. Soon enough, the island forgets it ever existed. When a young novelist discovers that her editor is in danger of being taken away by the Memory Police, she desperately wants to save him. For some reason, he doesn't forget, and it's becoming increasingly difficult for him to hide his memories. Who knows what will vanish next? __________ Finalist for the National Book Award 2019 Longlisted for the Translated Book Award 2020 New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year 'This timeless fable of control and loss feels more timely than ever' Guardian, Books of the Year 'Echoes the themes of George Orwell's 1984, but it has a voice and power all its own' Time 'A novel that makes us see differently... A masterpiece' Madeleine Thien
Breasts and Eggs
by Mieko KawakamiThe story of three women by a writer hailed by Haruki Murakami as Japan's most important contemporary novelist, WINNER OF THE AKUTAGAWA PRIZE. On a sweltering summer day, Makiko travels from Osaka to Tokyo, where her sister Natsu lives. She is in the company of her daughter, Midoriko, who has lately grown silent, finding herself unable to voice the vague yet overwhelming pressures associated with adolescence. The story of these three women reunited in a working-class neighborhood of Tokyo is told through the gaze of Natsu--thirty years old, an aspiring writer, haunted by hardships endured in her youth. Over the course of their few days together in the capital, Midoriko's silence will prove a catalyst for each woman to confront her fears and family secrets. On yet another blistering summer's day eight years later, Natsu, during a journey back to her native city, struggles with her own indeterminate identity as she confronts anxieties about growing old alone and childless. One of Japan's most important and best-selling writers, Mieko Kawakami mixes stylistic inventiveness, wry humor, and riveting emotional depth to tell a story of contemporary womanhood in Japan. Breasts and Eggs recounts the intimate journeys of three women on the path to finding peace and futures they can call their own. "Original and deeply moving...This book is a gift."--Laura van den Berg A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF THE YEAR Vogue・Thrillist・The Millions・ Literary Hub・Now Toronto
Before the Coffee Gets Cold
by Toshikazu KawaguchiWhat would you change if you could travel back in time? Down a small alleyway in the heart of Tokyo, there’s an underground café that’s been serving carefully brewed coffee for over a hundred years. Local legend says that this shop offers its customers something else besides coffee—the chance to travel back in time. The rules, however, are far from simple: you must sit in one particular seat, and you can’t venture outside the café, nor can you change the present. And, most important, you only have the time it takes to drink a hot cup of coffee—or risk getting stuck forever. Over the course of one summer, four customers visit the café in the hopes of traveling to another time: a heartbroken lover looking for closure, a nurse with a mysterious letter from her husband, a waitress hoping to say one last goodbye and a mother whose child she may never get the chance to know. Heartwarming, wistful and delightfully quirky, Before the Coffee Gets Cold explores the intersecting lives of four women who come together in one extraordinary café, where the service may not be quick, but the opportunities are endless.
The Devotion of Suspect X
by Keigo HigashinoYasuko Hanaoka thought she had escaped her abusive ex-husband Togashi. When he shows up one day, the situation quickly escalates, and Togashi ends up dead. Yasuko's next-door-neighbor Ishigami offers his help, not only disposing of the body, but plotting the cover-up as well.
The Travelling Cat Chronicles
by Hiro ArikawaTHE PERFECT CURL-UP READ FOR CAT LOVERS 'Prepare to have your heartstrings tugged by this quirky tale' Sunday Mirror 'A book about kindness and love, and how the smallest things can provide happiness' Stylist ___ It's not the journey that counts, but who's at your side. Nana is on a road trip, but he is not sure where he is going. All that matters is that he can sit beside his beloved owner Satoru in the front seat of his silver van. Satoru is keen to visit three old friends from his youth, though Nana doesn't know why and Satoru won't say. Set against the backdrop of Japan's changing seasons and narrated with a rare gentleness and humour, Nana's story explores the wonder and thrill of life's unexpected detours. It is about the value of friendship and solitude, and knowing when to give and when to take. At the heart of this book is a powerful message about the importance of kindness. It shows, above all, how acts of love, both great and small, can transform our lives. ___ What readers are saying: 'Delightful, insightful, full of warmth with plenty of humour.' 'Uplifting and heart wrenching in equal measure.' 'It had me in floods of tears but filled me with hope too.'