Japanese Literary Challenge 4 is here!

17 June, 2010

And what a beautiful button! Dolce Bellezza is once again hosting the Japanese Literary Challenge 4 from 1st June 2010 – 31st January 2011. Head over to her blog to find out what’s going on and to see a list of titles for some inspirational reading.

I’ve got the following titles that I’ve been hoarding for the past six months:

Scandal by Endo Shusaku
The Volcano by Endo Shusaku
The Samurai by Endo Shusaku
A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
Spring Miscellany by Natsume Sōseki
I am a Cat by Natsume Sōseki
Picking Bones from Ash by Marie Mutsuki Mockett

And a couple in Japanese of which I’m hoping to read at least one:

Sputnik Sweetheart by Murakami Haruki (スプートニクの恋人 by 村上春樹)
Yoru wa Mijikashi Arukeyo Otome by Morimi Tomihiko (夜は短し歩けよ乙女 by 森見登美彦)- loosely translated at It’s a Short Night, Keep Walking Girl
Oyogu no ni wa Anzen de mo Tekisetsu de mo arimasen by Ekuni Kaori (泳ぐのには安全でも適切でもありません by 江國香織) – It’s not Safe or Appropriate to Swim
Machi no Hi by Kitamura Kaoru(街の灯 by 北村薫) – The Light of the Street

Is that too many books? Of course it isn’t! But I doubt I’m prolific enough to finish everything but a girl’s gotta try, right? I’ll probably pick and choose amongst these and any other title that catches my eye. I’ve never read any Endo before so I’m looking forward to finally seeing what everyone’s raving about (although my selection doesn’t include Silence, his most well-known novel). I’m also excited about Picking Bones from Ash by Marie Mutsuki Mockett who is half-Japanese like myself and explores her roots in her debut novel.

Will you join us? And what will you be reading? Go on, tell us!

21 Responses to “Japanese Literary Challenge 4 is here!”

  1. Tony Says:

    That’s a big pile! Endo seems to be the author of choice this year (I’ve already seen a few reviews floating around the blogsphere). Unlike you, I have not been hoarding my Japanese books (I couldn’t wait six months…), and I’ve read a few since the last challenge; however, I do have a few lined up and one more on the way.

    I’m not going to say what though 😉

  2. novelinsights Says:

    What a wonderful list! I really enjoyed Sputnik Sweetheart – that would be a shortish one to read in Japanese… 🙂

    We can compare notes on I Am a Cat…

  3. Bellezza Says:

    I want to read Sputnik Sweetheart, too, although I’m confined to reading it in English. Shusaku Endo’s writing is endlessly fascinating to me as a Christian. I’m still trying to decipher his exact standpoint…I’m so glad you’re reading in this challenge. I really value your opinion!

    • chasing bawa Says:

      I’ve been waiting for this challenge since the last one finished! It felt so long! And it’s made me read a lot more Japanese books which is always a good thing 🙂

  4. chasing bawa Says:

    Tony: Oooh, I’m very curious. I can’t wait to see what you’re going to read. Do you think I’m being overambitious??

    novelinsights: I’m so tempted with I Am a Cat… I haven’t read many reviews of Sputnik Sweetheart as most people focus on Murakami’s better known novels, so I’m glad you liked it.

    • Tony Says:

      No, just over-organised! I usually have one or two Japanese books waiting to be read and buy more on a whim (usually not the ones I anticipated buying!).

      By the way, I read ‘Sputnik Sweetheart’ for last year’s challenge (review in the usual place – once you’ve read it, of course!). It’s a really good read… and I won’t say anything else 😉

      ‘I am a Cat’ is also very good, and Natsume Soseki is definitely an author I’ll be reading more of this time.

      • chasing bawa Says:

        It’s nice to buy on a whim and read something you hadn’t planned to. It gets difficult once you start hoarding books like me, he he. I will of course be reading your review once I’ve finished Sputnik Sweetheard. It will be interesting to see how the Murakami reading experience differs in Japanese. I always had an image of Natsume Soseki as being somewhat dry so I’ve never really attempted his books, but everyone seems to love this one. He is one of Japan’s greats for a reason…

  5. mee Says:

    I read Sputnik Sweetheart and liked it. I’m so jealous you can read it in Japanese!

  6. Colleen Says:

    I Am A Cat is one of my favourite books of all time!!! I hope you’ll like it too; people seem to end up either totally bored or entirely enraptured by it.

  7. Great list! I figure it’s best to aim high even if we won’t be as prolific as we wish to be.

    I read most of I Am a Cat last year but still have the last volume to finish :s

  8. Iris Says:

    Those are a lot of books to choose from! I really want to read Endo’s Silence since I’ve been hearing some great things about it these last few weeks.

    And may I add that I’m impressed that you read Japanese?

  9. chasing bawa Says:

    Colleen: That’s great to hear. I was in two minds about reading it (because it’s so thick!) but I think I might just have to give it a go.

    Claire: Are you going to finish it for this challenge? I like having a large pool of books to choose from. Plus I like making lists;)

    Iris: All that reading manga when I was young certainly paid off – best way to learn Japanese! I thought I had a copy of Silence but it turned out to be Scandal. Duh!

  10. itoeri Says:

    wow sounds like a real challenge!
    ive started reading a simplified
    Tales of Genji, with illustrations, which i got at the Tokugawa Museum in Nagoya, yesterday. I have the full version consisting of5or6 vol, which belonged to my great aunt, but i never got through…
    ive seen this amazing Noh mask of a female demon, Hanya, capturing the hell of sorrow and jealousy of a woman, referring also to a lady appearing in the Tales and suddenly wanted to know whats behind this mask, or behind any woman, particulary ME : )

    The pillow book is another i want to try properly.

    wonder how u like Eguni Kaori – i like her signature melancholic way of writing..

    • chasing bawa Says:

      Hello hello! I read my sis’ copy of Reisei to Jyonetsu no Aida (red one) and it was so beautiful and contemplative. I preferred it to the blue one. The Hanya mask (is that the one with the horns that looks like an oni?) always reminds me of Rokujo no Miyasudokoro… I’ve only ever read the manga version but it was very interesting but a little confusing. I love the Tokugawa Museum, brings back memories. Let me know how you progress!

      Is the Pillow Book considered difficult in Japanese? Is there a modern version?

      • itoeri Says:

        yeah, “Reisei to Jyounetsu no Aida” was great. i loved how the girl lived in Italy – spending some time of her day in an antique shop and most her time reading in her bathtab : ) (do i remember correctly?)

        The Pillow Book is in ancient Japanese, and the meaning of the words have changed so much over the centuries that you need a guide or a translation to understand it properly.

        have you seen the movie by Peter Greenaway?

        • chasing bawa Says:

          Yes, I loved the way Ekuni Kaori dealt with the inner life of her character. It really spoke to me. And she did spend an awful lot of time in the bathtub…

          I have seen the Peter Greenaway film a long time ago but I think it’s ‘inspired’ by The Pillow Book rather than an adaptation of it – I remember trying to read The Pillow Book and being surprised that it was totally different to the film. I also recall seeing a Japanese anime of it which was rather sweet.

    • gnoegnoe Says:

      @itoeri: Like you I’ve tried to read The Tale of Genji but couldn’t get it done completely. I do remember the part with the female demon vividly though! I could even relate part of Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore to it.

      I’m hoping for a read-along of Genji sometime because I would like to read the whole book. I just missed the one on (I believe it was) A Guy’s Moleskine Notebook. But first I gotta finish that other classic, The Pillow Book. 😉

      The Tokugawa Museum is going on my list for when I’ll be visiting Japan!

      • itoeri Says:

        The Tale of Genji x Murakami Haruki’s Kafka on the Shore? how interesting. now i want to read it too.

        Hope you get to visit the Tokugawa Museum. Don’t miss their cafe, overlooking a Japanese garden : )

  11. gnoegnoe Says:

    LOL Of *course* I’m participating again too!

    You can find my list on Graasland, but a few highlights are The Pillow Book, and Silence by Shusaku Endo. I completely understand you won’t get to Silence this year — you’ve got plenty other books by Endo on your Mount TBR!

    Good luck with the challenge 🙂

    • chasing bawa Says:

      Clever, you noticed my TBR is a ‘mount’ even though I keep saying ‘pile’ in denial… Looking forward to all the books you’ll be reading for this challenge!

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