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Japan Story: In Search of a Nation, 1850 to the Present

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The metaphors at play here, and in the other tales, ranging from the obvious to the subtle, and all end in hilarity and often outright strangeness. Choosing the fifty best Japanese books ever written is a monumental task, invariably leading to the omission of so many wonderful works of literature. Damage to the Fukushima nuclear plant causes a radiation leak that leaves extensive areas uninhabitable and contaminates food supplies. Upon its first publication 1988, it announced Ogiwara as a serious name in the world of Japanese fantasy literature. Every Japanese short story in this collection, like all of Ogawa’s books, excel at taking ordinary, human characters and stretching them by filling the world around them with odd, unexpected, sometimes nauseating things.

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The Honjin Murders tells the story of a wedding, the night of which is upended by the deaths of the newlywed couple themselves. The observational style used by Sōseki and Akutagawa, sometimes painfully acute, owed a great deal to a tradition in Japan going back almost a millennium: to Sei Shōnagon’s The Pillow Book and a little later to The Tale of Genji – seen by some as the world’s first novel. The legendary choreographer Tatsumi Hijikata, creator of Ankoku Butō – the “Dance of Darkness” inspired by Japan’s shamanic tradition – is delighted to discover that this young man’s name sounds a lot like “bloomers”.

The first fantasy tale of Noriko Ogiwara , Dragon Sword and Wind Child is a Star Wars-esque tale of good vs evil, light vs darkness, and a young protagonist thrust into a nation-destroying conflict as she discovers the unfavorable roots of her heritage. Better known as Lafcadio Hearn, Koizumi Yakumo was to the Japanese ghost story what the Grimm Brothers were to European fairytales: a pioneering collector and publisher of long-lost folklore. Following the success of Terminal Boredom, Verso Books and four incredible Japanese-to-English literary translators brought us another punk and subversive collection of stories by the legendary Izumi Suzuki. Shunro Oshikawa's vivid storytelling brings to life a tale of exploration, discovery, and epic naval battles beneath the waves, offering a unique blend of adventure and fantasy.

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And there is only one man capable of untangling the mystery of what happened on that fateful day: Detective Galileo.Each of the three tales in this Japanese short story collection is written in a different literary style. Founded in 2018 by Willow Heath and Jess Esa, Books and Bao offers reviews of the most recent global fiction, poetry, and graphic novels along with inspiring cultural journeys.

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