novels set in Japan

(27 Posts)
highlandcoo Mon 07-Jan-13 20:41:55

I'm off to Japan in the spring and hoping to read quite a few Japanese novels before then.

So far I've read several by Murakawi, Who is Mr Satoshi by Jonathan Lee, have a couple by Liam Hearn on the to-read pile .. and that's it.

I'd like to explore some other Japanese writers. On the foreign literature thread I picked up a recommendation for The Makioka Sisters, which sounds great. Would love some more suggestions smile

DuchessofMalfi Mon 07-Jan-13 20:53:33
camgirl Mon 07-Jan-13 20:56:27

The Book of Loss by Julith Jedamus

Set in the perfectly realized world of imperial tenth-century Japan, The Book of Loss is a gripping novel of sexual jealousy at court.
A renowned storyteller and lady-in-waiting to the Empress, the narrator is locked in a bitter rivalry with another woman for the love of a banished nobleman. Forced to observe the complex rules and social hierarchies of court life, she finds herself caught in a trap of her own making. Her machinations reach such a pitch that they threaten to undermine the rule of the Emperor himself. She records her plight, and her acidulous observations of courtly life, in her diary. Her voice is unforgettable--both foreign and utterly modern. Her sense of loss is unbearable, her love is all-consuming, and it will push her to the extremes of rivalry.
Offering the intimate seductions and betrayals of Dangerous Liaisons and The Memoirs of a Geisha, The Book of Loss takes the reader into the farthest reaches of desire, where passion rules and jealousy leads to unthinkable acts.

Lilymaid Mon 07-Jan-13 20:58:06

Oswald Wynd: The Ginger Tree (set partly in China but mainly in Japan)

TeaAndSlanket Mon 07-Jan-13 21:01:11

Murakami - definitely - his non-fiction piece on the Sarin Gas attack 'Underground' is spell-binding, I really liked Norwegian Wood too and his short novels are great; I thought the Makioka Sisters was a bit tedious (but it was enforced uni reading list); there are a couple of David Mitchell books set at least partly in Japan. DH highly rates Mishima's quartet of novels. Pale View of the Hills - an early Kasuo Ishiguro novel is pretty good.

The Across The Nightingale Floor series by Liann (sp?) Hearne is excellent. It's not named as Japan but is pretty much ancient Japan in essence anyway. really gripping and some good strong female characters, if that matters to you!

I enjoyed Memoirs Of A Geisha too.

Marukami doesn't do much for me (and some of it is both bonkers and boring simultaneously) but After Dark isn't bad.

Allalonenow Mon 07-Jan-13 22:00:30

Cloud of Sparrows by Takashi Matsuoka, set as Japan is forced to open its trading to America, it is the first of a series, I think Autumn Bridge is the second book.
Very wide range of characters and a strong plot.

CaptainNancy Mon 07-Jan-13 22:22:02

Shusaki Endo
Yukio Mishima
Kenzaburo Oe
Banana Yoshimoto

You could also try The Tale of Genji

HyvaPaiva Mon 07-Jan-13 22:38:54

I also recommend Banana Yoshimoto. Have a wonderful trip!

elkiedee Tue 08-Jan-13 02:10:11

Natsuo Kirino has had several crime novels translated. Out is quite strange and rather grim but an excellent read, and I also liked Real World, have still to read Grotesque.

TanteRose Tue 08-Jan-13 02:17:34

nothing to add, but do come and join us on the Living in Japan thread when you arrive, highland smile

CaptainNancy Tue 08-Jan-13 02:23:24

Doh- have just 'got' your name Highland!

clattypatty Tue 08-Jan-13 02:32:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

highlandcoo Tue 08-Jan-13 08:38:21

Thanks everyone for some great ideas. How did I forget Memoirs of a Geisha? It's been on my bookshelves for years and can't explain why I've never got round to reading it .. I will now! Some other excellent suggestions too.

I'm really interested in the Living in Japan thread - thanks Tanterose - I have to rush now but will be back to explore properly later and might be a brilliant place to ask some questions about our trip

Cheers everyone smile

Merrin Tue 08-Jan-13 11:43:41

The Piano Teacher

sieglinde Tue 08-Jan-13 12:14:28

For unusual, Angela Carter-esque fairytale historical fiction set in Heian Japan - try Kij Johnson, The Fox Woman and Fudoki. I loved both of them. Maybe also try The Tale of Genji, and the best ever - Sei Shonagan, Japan's Jane Austen?

doyouwantfrieswiththat Tue 08-Jan-13 12:21:51
mimbleandlittlemy Tue 08-Jan-13 17:22:35

One Morning Like a Bird by Andrew Miller - he lived in Japan for a while and has a very deft feel for the country. There's also The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell.

For a good old historical romp there's always Shogun.

tripfiction Fri 11-Jan-13 10:41:02

You can try these that give a bit of insight:

Japan. Funny Side Up by Amy chavez (Japan)
Losing Kei by Suzanne Kamata (Tokyo)
Tokyo by Mo Hayder (Tokyo)
Tokyo on Foot by Florent Chavouet (Brilliant)

and here are our two blogposts for anyone looking for fiction set in Tokyo/Japan:
http://tripfiction.blogspot.ch/2012/05/two-books-for-starters-in-tokyo.html
http://tripfiction.blogspot.co.at/2012/09/tokyo.html

florilegia Fri 11-Jan-13 16:12:56

number9dream by David Mitchell is also meant to be good. I haven't read that yet, but I loved The thousand Autumns. I'm guiltily aware of the fact that Mishima's Sea of Fertility tetralogy is gathering dust on my bookshelf.

tripfiction Sat 12-Jan-13 16:00:16

Try this link from ChocLitUK publishers who are having a Japanese themed month of novels set in Japan

https://www.facebook.com/pages/TripFiction/170507589708729?ref=tn_tnmn#!/pages/Choc-Lit/30680012481

gastrognome Mon 14-Jan-13 20:51:00

Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto. Just a perfect piece of writing, beautifully translated.

rabbitonthemoon Tue 15-Jan-13 19:38:28

Not a Japanese author but I read Lost Girls and Love Hotels last year by Catherine Hanrahan and enjoyed it for evoking memories of Japan. An easy read.

highlandcoo Thu 24-Jan-13 18:04:06

Thanks to those who added suggestions since I last posted smile

So far I've read - and really enjoyed - The Makioka Sisters. I can see why it wouldn't be to everyone's taste, but I love long detailed Victorian/Edwardian novels so it was great for me. Reminded me of Arnold Bennett's The Old Wives' Tale in fact. Although the way it just fizzled out at the end was really disappointing .. I wanted a proper happy ending!

I then moved on to The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Mishima - beautifully written in parts but I did find a lot of it quite bizarre.

I'm now reading Lian Hearn's latest book, Blossoms and Shadows and will then read The Box Man by Kobo Abe which I think may also be a bit surreal.

Lots more good suggestions above - I will aim to read as many as possible in the next couple of months smile

LeMousquetaireAnonyme Thu 24-Jan-13 18:15:58

OK, I am going to go against the grain what you need to "read" when going to japan is "Totoro" and Miyasaki movies. A great insight into japanese mind and scenery.
totoro
Miyasaki
and studio Ghibli movies.
you will also find a new depth into "lost into translation"

Murakami, "my life as a geisha", and "dark waters" (SF/horror) books are all good, as well as old fashion legends of Japan: Buddhism and Shintoism tales
and some trash reality Tv...

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