Can anyone recommend any good Japanese fiction?

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Amusing Elk
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#1
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Hey fellow bibliophiles!

I've read 'Norwegian Wood' by Haruki Murakami and have started reading 'Kafka on the Shore' and think that both are amazing works. I was wondering if anyone could recommend to me any other works of Japanese fiction (translated into English)? I've become incredibly interested in Japanese culture and would love to read works from other Japanese authors and see how different their writing style(s) are to Murakami.

Thanks a lot!
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Amusing Elk
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AngryJellyfish- Do you have any suggestions?
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wolfmoon88
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Tbh I would say Murakami is the most prominent author I can think of from Japan.

Women in the Dunes by Kobo Abe is one book I would definitely suggest though. Quite an interesting read, although it may not be the most exciting of books.

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AngryJellyfish
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(Original post by Amusing Elk)
AngryJellyfish- Do you have any suggestions?
Not outside of manga I'm afraid. Maybe one or two light novels.
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Amusing Elk
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(Original post by AngryJellyfish)
Not outside of manga I'm afraid. Maybe one or two light novels.
No worries, I thought it was worth a try given that you're an Anime fan! Thanks anyway

(Original post by wolfmoon88)
Tbh I would say Murakami is the most prominent author I can think of from Japan.

Women in the Dunes by Kobo Abe is one book I would definitely suggest though. Quite an interesting read, although it may not be the most exciting of books.

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Thanks so much for the suggestion! I'll look into it! :^_^:
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wolfmoon88
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(Original post by Amusing Elk)
No worries, I thought it was worth a try given that you're an Anime fan! Thanks anyway



Thanks so much for the suggestion! I'll look into it! :^_^:
No problem I feel like early 20th century Japanese literature was kinda dominated by imperialism, war and the effects of the war so if you are interested in that there are some fascinating titles.

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Amusing Elk
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(Original post by wolfmoon88)
No problem I feel like early 20th century Japanese literature was kinda dominated by imperialism, war and the effects of the war so if you are interested in that there are some fascinating titles.

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Thanks again! I realise that the scope of 'Japanese fiction' is incredibly broad and doesn't fit neatly into just one type so maybe my first post was a bit naive. After my new found (and still fairly superficial) interest in all things Japanese, I'm more just looking for novels exploring Japanese culture, whether it's contemporary or past so I'll endeavour to do some research on works from early 20th century. If there's any specific ones which you would personally recommend, feel free to let me know!
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wolfmoon88
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(Original post by Amusing Elk)
Thanks again! I realise that the scope of 'Japanese fiction' is incredibly broad and doesn't fit neatly into just one type so maybe my first post was a bit naive. After my new found (and still fairly superficial) interest in all things Japanese, I'm more just looking for novels exploring Japanese culture, whether it's contemporary or past so I'll endeavour to do some research on works from early 20th century. If there's any specific ones which you would personally recommend, feel free to let me know!
Nothing comes to mind in the moment tbh (more of a penchant towards Chinese literature)

Yeah do some more research into it, I looked at it through a historical perspective and it was rather fascinating.

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1582
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I'm familiar with quite a bit of Japanese fiction, but these are some of my favourite works.


Natsuo Kirino's novels are amazing if you enjoy horror-driven stories. Her novels Out and Grotesque are some of my favourite books of all time. :heart:

Ryu Murakami is a fantastic storyteller, but he's often put down due to frequently (and unfairly) being compared to Haruki Murakami. He has a raw writing style that feels gritty and realistic. Some great books of his are Coin Locker Babies, In The Miso Soup, and (if you're okay with graphic and non-vanilla sex) Almost Transparent Blue.

Not a Japanese author, but My Name Is Sei Shonagon by Jan Blensdorf is a beautiful novel.
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the bear
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Fish of the Seto Inland Sea.

i am currently reading this.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2...eto-inland-sea
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prazzyjazzy
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Aw, I know some great Japanese Period Dramas, but not many novels. I've tried reading translated ones but awkward translations put me off 99% of the time.
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lightningwolf
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If you don't mind something dark then no longer human~Osamu Dazai, Kenji Miyazawa~night on the galactic railroad is good. Also I read never let me go~Kazuo Ishiguro recently which was okay and I second that kafka on the shore is a good book too.
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spacepirate-James
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Japanese literature is incredibly rich and it's a little sad so much of the tradition has been eclipsed by Murakami's shadow but it's nice to see people wanting to delve deeper and broader. Some old classics of Japanese literature include: I Am a Cat by Natsume Soseki; The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu; Pillow Book, Mei Shonagon; The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Matsuo Basho - but these aren't exactly easy introductions into the field.

Later in the Meiji period going into 20th century you have a lot of naturalist writing and writing focusing on Japanese life through 'interior' themes of society, culture, family, psychology. Authors include Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Junichiro Tanizaki, and (Nobel-winning) Yasunari Kawabata. Kawabata is one of my absolute favourites. He writes these very short piercing, achingly beautiful and Japanese novellas which are like impressions into private moments of Japanese history.

Modern literature also saw an emergence of post-WW2 themes in the writing of Osama Dazai, Kenji Nakagami, Yukio Mishima and Kenzaburo Oe (who also won the Nobel prize) looking at themes of identity, nihilism, the loss of Empire and modernity. Mishima is usually a good recommendation to begin exploring Japanese literature as he's pretty popular and accessible in the West. He's best known for his short stories and The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea but I think his Sea of Fertility Trilogy (written before he committed suicide) is his best work. Around the same time a number of authors looked back at Japanese history through a modern lens such as Yasushi Inoue and Shusaku Endo (whose book is now a recent film). Equally you have the avant-garde work of Kobo Abe who is a direct precursor to Murakami but even more out-there and well worth a read if only to compare the strangeness to Murakami.

Some contemporary authors who are writing in the same contemporary scene of Haruki Murakami includes Ryu Murakami, Banana Yoshimoto, Yoko Ogawa, Hiromi Kawakami. And there's been an increasing form of globalised Japanese literature which would include Murakami but also Kazuo Ishiguro and Yoko Tawada. Tawada is brilliant, writing really offbeat, thought-provoking and stimulating stuff. Well worth a read.
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