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Women in Translation

Review: The Lonesome Bodybuilder (Picnic in the Storm)

The Lonesome Body Builder ‘Tomoko had married him of her own free will. Some of her friends had advised her to reconsider, but most people didn’t even seem to notice that he was straw.’ Two months ago I had already decided on my favourite novel, and novelist, of 2018: Convenience Store Woman and its author …

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The Keshiki Series: New Voices from Japan (Part 1)

Eight chapbooks, each containing a tale (or tales) of around thirty or forty pages, all by Japanese authors of varying successes that you may not have heard of. If you have, here is more of what you already love. If you have not, these books are a wonderful treat indeed: a glimpse into the styles, …

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Author Spotlight: Banana Yoshimoto

When I first read and reviewed Banana Yoshimoto’s seminal work, Kitchen, I mentioned how it tackled ‘the brevity of life, and the dangerous potential of love and happiness to be painfully fleeting’. This theme is not only true for Kitchen but for all of Yoshimoto’s writing. It is, in a nutshell, what makes her tick …

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Review: Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

When I was living in Inagi-shi, a once-upon-a-time small city now swallowed up by the swell of suburban Tokyo, I would enter the convenience store next to my apartment every morning and buy a sugar-soaked bun to walk to the station with. The convenience store woman who served me each and every morning at 8 …

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Review: The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

As a twenty-something who has, not for a moment, put learning and discovery behind him, I have spent several years now glued quite earnestly to YouTube as a means of studying things that escaped me as a child. Much like the housekeeper of The Housekeeper and the Professor, one of those things I missed out …

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Review: The Last Children of Tokyo (The Emissary) by Yoko Tawada

Dystopian fiction is arguably the most impactful, clever, and chilling kind of storytelling we have, but it has dipped in quality in recent years. That is until now, as we get a glimpse into the very near future with Yoko Tawada’s The Last Children of Tokyo or The Emissary in the US. It can take …

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Review: My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Kabi Nagata (Manga)

My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness is a graphic memoir composed with raw and honest pain. It opens your eyes to an important yet painful reality in Japan, all through the use of dark humour, minimalist art, and queer honesty. Back in the summer of 2016 I was walking through Tokyo, somewhere near the Shibuya district, …

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