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Recommended Reading
Mishima Yukio

At the height of his career, after having achieved international and local fame, considerable wealth and a certain degree of notoriety, Mishima Yukio committed ritual suicide. At the age of 45, Mishima ended his own life by performing a Japanese suicide rite known as seppuku or hari-kiri. Traditionally reserved for the samurai class, it involves self-disembowelment and ends with decapitation. As much has been written about Mishima's gruesome and controversial death as about his literary accomplishments.


Murakami Haruki

Murakami Haruki's novels take the reader into a dislocated slice of post modern Japanese society, minus kimonos, Shinto shrines or any other typical Japanese icon. Despite being set in Japan, he offers no insight into traditional Japanese behaviour and cultural. Instead, Murakami's tales are about anyone, anywhere.


Abe Kobo

Abe Kobo's stories lack the earmark characteristics of postwar Japanese literature, instead the author plays with themes of alienation and homelessness in a postmodern condition. This premise may be attributed to Abe's upbringing in Manchuria during World War II. The writer came to consider himself a man without a home. Reflective of this, Abe's protaganists are often everyday men thrust into unusual circustances, seeking identity against the anonymity of modern society.


Oe Kenzaburo

Oe Kenzaburo's works typically trace two streams of thought, one real and tangible and the other filled with imagery, symbolism and existentialist musings. Many of the author's underlying themes and concepts are not immediately accessible, at times bogged down in sentimentality and literary discourse. To fully appreciate the works of this 1994 Nobel Prize winner it is necessary to consider his history and life experiences.


Yoshimoto Banana

Yoshimoto Banana's books are upbeat, breezy nuggets filled with offbeat individuals struggling with the dichotomies of contemporary Japanese society. Yoshimoto's novels, usually told in the first person, deal with individualism, loss and alienation, spirituality and love. It's a style which has made her one of Japan's preeminent young novelists.


Kawabata Yasunari

Japan's first literary Nobel Prize winner, Kawabata Yasunari, published more than 140 exceedingly short stories. The author coined the term tanagokoro no shosetsu to describe his works, meaning, "stories that fit into the palm of one's hand." Seventy of his short stories have been collected and translated by Lane Dunlop and J. Martin Holman under the title "Palm of the Hand Stories" allowing the West to enter the world of this esteemed and highly recognized author.



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