Sunday, February 9, 2014

Japanese Literature Challenge 7

 Dolce Bellezza hosts this wonderful reading challenge and I've joined in for many of them over the past 7 years! I love this challenge for many reasons, but probably mostly for sentimental reasons. When I started blogging, I wasn't much of a reader, and could never really boast about what books I had read. But this challenge introduced me to some new genres, authors and content that I have really enjoyed. You can see some of my previous posts about these challenges here in my review pages.

In most of the previous years I consumed Murakami with a passion. Now I can really boast that I have almost read everything he's done - fiction and non fiction.

 So this year I've sought out some different authors and styles - and have any another interesting  and engaging experience of Japanese Literature. Snow Country, for me was a little weak on interest and plot - but was immensely beautiful in descriptors of the country, the activities and relationships. The author, (I found) Yasunari Kawabata was a Japanese short story writer and novelist whose spare, lyrical, subtly-shaded prose works won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968, the first Japanese author to receive the award. His works have enjoyed broad international appeal and are still widely read. And this is something else I can boast - to have read a Nobel prize winner..

Mistress Oriku: Stories from a Tokyo Teahouse, by Matsutaro Kawaguchi, translated by Royall Tyler is set in Meiji-era Japan, this is the story of the sensitive, compassionate and indomitable Mistress Oriku. Formerly involved in the pleasure trades of Tokyo, Mistress Oriku leaves that life behind to run an elegant teahouse on the city's outskirts. But despite her hopes for a quieter, less hectic life, she finds she can't escape her involvement in the city's creative, intellectual and political circles [borrowed from].  
I really enjoyed this story about an older women who knew her place in society and her influence, but also enjoyed the company of men. I was impressed by her character and a little envious of the Japanese Culture that allows women such a place. 

(sorry for the bad image).. The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, by Yukio Mishima, Ivan Morris (Translation).  In The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, celebrated Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima creates a haunting portrait of a young man's obsession with idealized beauty and his destructive quest to possess it fully. [borrowed from].
Based on a real incident that occurred in 1950, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion brilliantly portrays the passions and agonies of a young man in postwar Japan, bringing to the subject the erotic imagination and instinct for the dramatic moment that marked Mishima as one of the towering makers of modern fiction.
I haven't got anything good to say about this book - I never finished it. Too depressing. Again, that's something I've learned about Japanese writings - it can be all too real!


I'm yet to finish all the stories in 'The Izu Dancer and other stories' but the Izu Dancer was written by Kawabata (the one who wrote snow country) and I can say his style was much the same in this short story. Very description, almost poetic for me, simple in structure, and based on the country side and activities of the everyday. See - now I can boast I've read two of his works!
This is on my e reader, so I pick up these stories when I'm on the train. I'm sure I'll get through the others soon.

So that's another episode of Japanese Literature Challenge hosted by Dolce Bellezza. See the challenge site here for all the other amazing entries.

Before I sign off though, I want to say a huge thank you to my fellow challengees because with out your wonderful reviews, I wouldn't know where to start on choosing my books. I look forward to joining you all again next Challenge (which usually start July through to January).



Jeanie said...

AS much as I love Japan, I've always had trouble with Japanese literature -- but the one about the teahouse sounds like something I might be able to enjoy. I admire you for reading these -- I find Japanese literature styles a little more complicated for me to follow -- not sure why. So, three cheers for you and thanks for the recommendation!

Meredith said...

and a huge thanks to you, Tamara, for your lovely posts and involvement. I have read only six books myself, for my own challenge, and feel I've dropped the ball on being a host. Still, as you point out, the review site is a good place to go to find books with which to begin (or continue) one's love of Japanese literature.

I really like the new look of your blog! xoxo

Also, can we expect a Paris in July Challenge again? I'm already anticipating that! With fingers crossed.

Tamara said...

I am ready and willing to host Paris in July 2014 - I'm note sure if Karen is prepared yet, so I could be looking for another co-host?

She (5eyedbookworm) said...

I only discovered Murakami in 2013 and I consumed, digested and munched on five of his books last year. I'm not sure if I will read a book from this year but he's now one of my favorite authors. (What's your favorite book from him, if I may ask?) :)

I haven't read the books you mentioned here but I've read some books from Natsuo Kirino, Banana Yoshimoto and Kenzaburo Oe.

I really am looking forward to reading more Japanese literature this year. I've been delaying my reading of Kawabata's Snow Country for a long time now, maybe I should get to it ;)

sakura said...

You got through some heavyweights there. I've been meaning to try Mishima for a while but still haven't - I hear that he writes beautifully in Japanese. And I have a couple of books by Kawabata too. So maybe next year. I do urge you to try Shusako Endo although his novels are quite depressing too...

Vagabonde said...

I have not read much Japanese literature – I read a book by Yukio Mishima a long time ago. Right now I have been reading about Russia – Russian memoirs, etc. but then I did read about the big Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905 that really started the Russians to be upset with the Tsar and culminated with the revolution ten years later.
Thanks for coming to my blog and to answer your comment the Galette des Rois is only served around January 6th or so – it used to be a religious tradition but, as most of those traditions in France, it is now just a French tradition. I did write a history on the galette last year on January 11, 2013 - .

Meredith said...

If you are looking for a co-host for the Paris in July challenge I would love to be considered!

Happy Valentine's Day!