Reviews and Blog Posts: Japan

Wind/Pinball : two novels

by Haruki Murakami

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Murakami’s novella Wind/Pinball has only recently been translated from Japanese and prior to that the stories were difficult to find.  The first story Wind the main character is a college student and the second, Pinball he has graduated.  Murakami says that he wrote these at his kitchen table and they...

Just so happens

by Fumio Obata

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This is one of the most elegant, perfectly illustrated comics I’ve seen in a long time. I literally gasped at each page: Obata’s control with watercolor is masterful without being overstated and his minimal approach to color perfectly fits the story. If you're looking for a thoughtful break from mainstream...


by Ian Culbard

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Following 3 people in different parts of the world when everyone around them disappears, Celeste is an unusual, beautiful, and thought-provoking book. In L.A., a man finds himself alone on the highway after being cut off from a frantic call from his wife--and then he finds another man in the...

Genocide of one : a thriller

by Kazuaki Takano

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Translated from the Japanese, this thriller spans the globe (The Congo, Japan, The United States) and tackles issues such as human evolution, whether war/genocide defines our species, and power. A 1975 report detailed the ways humans might become extinct, including nuclear war. Now, one of those scenarios seems to have...

Plaza Voices: the Art of Ikebana

Still from Case Drury's video "Seiko"

Check out this beautiful video from Case Drury, featuring ikebana artist Seiko Yoshikawa sharing her skills in the Japanese art of flower arranging.

Dengeki Daisy. Vol. 1

by Kyousuke Motomi

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This series started me on a manga binge the likes of which usually only teenagers fall into. In it, the main character has lost her parents and, more recently, her brother and is being watched over by a mysterious person named Daisy. Who is Daisy? And what’s the story with...

When my name was Keoko

by Linda Sue Park

Linda Sue Park's When My Name Was Keoko​ is told from the dual perspectives of Kim Sun-hee (renamed Kaneyama Keoko) and her older brother Kim Tae-yul (renamed Kaneyama Nobuo) during the Japanese occupation of Korea in the 1940s. The pair have grown up speaking and writing Japanese; the history of their own culture...

Hana's Suitcase

by Karen Levine

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I listened to the audible book version of Hana’s Suitcase: A True Story. It is a quick listen, only two discs. I am drawn to Holocaust stories, especially nonfiction works, but, as we all know, the subject matter is difficult to take. Hana’s Suitcase is a children’s book, but its...

Unbroken : a World War II airman's story of survival, resilience, and redemption

by Laura Hillenbrand

It seems like everyone has read this book already, but it took a personal recommendation for me to pick it up, and I'm so glad that I did. Not because I enjoyed the story--this harrowing portrait of how people can treat each other was hard to read at times--but because...

A Man With No Talents

A Man with No Talents: Memoirs of a Tokyo Day Laborer

Talk About Bleak

Oskar here, again, to share another InterLibrary Loan gem -- A Man with No Talents: Memoirs of a Tokyo Day Laborer. Maybe "gem" is a little strong because this book gave me some trouble with its extremely introverted and destitute characters, most of whom lead a zombie-like, meandering existence. So how about "find" or, better yet, "warning"?

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