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Literature

Read our reviews of translated literature, author spotlights, essays, and translator interviews to discover something new.

Review: Ordinary Misfortunes – Emily Jungmin Yoon

Born in Busan, having grown up between South Korea and Canada, and currently residing in Chicago, Emily Jungmin Yoon is poetry editor for The Margins, the journal of the Asian American Writer’s Workshop. Her 2017 chapbook Ordinary Misfortunes won the Sunken Garden Poetry Prize and she published her first full length collection A Cruelty Special to Our Species in 2018. …

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10 Classic Japanese Ghost Stories

The ghosts and demons (yokai) of Japanese folklore represent some of the most imaginative, diverse, and strange supernatural creatures anywhere in the world. Vengeful spirits and man-eating demons; haunted furniture and the ghosts of abandoned children. Japanese ghost stories are a deep well of fantastical, terrifying wonders. Here are ten such captivating Japanese ghost stories, …

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Kobo Abe: 3 Must-Read Surreal Novels

Where do you start reading an author like Kobo Abe? The post-war Japanese author and playwright has become known, most famously, as Japan’s answer to Franz Kafka. One difference between the two, however, is that Abe was able to finish his works. And of them, which ones are must-read novels? What we have here are …

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7 Books to Read Before Visiting Cambodia

Visiting Cambodia, like many Southeast Asian countries involves storytelling traditions dating back centuries. However, much of it was rarely written down, passed instead through oral tradition. Most of the literary works written down in Khmer were owned and controlled by the Royal families, or the Buddhist monks. Despite these long literary traditions, the Khmer literature …

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A Girl on the Shore: Beauty in Broken Things

Inio Asano is a mangaka best known for being one of the manga world’s smartest and boldest creators. His series Goodnight Punpun is an oft-touted masterpiece that taps into the tragedy of growing up lost and frightened. It’s a series that represents the literary highs which manga can (and often does) achieve. But if you …

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Review: Earthlings by Sayaka Murata

Earthlings is translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori | Published by Granta In 2018, the English translation of Convenience Store Woman, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori, was published by Granta. The book had such an intense and profound effect on me, as a reader, that it remains somewhere in my top 5 novels …

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Review: The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida by Clarissa Goenawan

Published by Scribe Clarissa Goenawan is an Indonesian-born, Singaporean author who has so far penned two novels, both set in Tokyo and both reminiscent of supernatural romance and drama manga, as well as the novels of Haruki Murakami. The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida is a subtly fantastical story, driven by themes of love, loss, …

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Review: Tales from the Cafe by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Translated from the Japanese by Geoffrey Trousselot Tales from the Cafe Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s original Before the Coffee Gets Cold, an adaptation of his own stage play, was one of the best-selling novels of 2019. A sweet, goofy, novel with heart to spare. We called it “unapologetically awkward and campy, but it is full of soul, …

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