As mentioned in the first part of my September 2020 Book Haul post, I managed to score quite a couple of titles. There was quite a lot so I segregated the Japanese books from the rest for I did purchase quite a couple of Japanese works. I did mention it a couple of times that I love Japanese literature although I have to admit, I am challenged by the symbols they are often riddled with. This is particularly true for the classic works and most of the books in this batch were written by writers known for playing around with symbols, the quintessence of Japanese literature.
For the first batch of books I bought during the month, you may check this post: Book Haul, September 2020 Part I. Without any more ado, here is the second part of my September 2020 book haul. Happy reading!
Title: A Personal Matter
Author: Kenzaburō Ōe
Translator: John Nathan
Publishing Date: 1995
No. of Pages: 165
Synopsis: “In this, his most famous book Ōe examines the devastation, fear, and shame of fathering a brain-damaged child. The central character is Bird, a frustrated intellectual in a failing marriage, who dreams of an escaped to Africa. The magnitude of Bird’s disappointment at the birth of his baby reveals itself through his alcoholism, sexual exploits, and attempts to destroy his own innocent and powerless son, until finally he realizes that he must take responsibility not only for the child, but also for himself.”
Title: Thirst for Love
Author: Yukio Mishima
Translator: Alfred H. Marks
Publisher: Vintage Books
Publishing Date: 2009
No. of Pages: 200
Synopsis: “After the early death of her philandering husband, Etsuko moves into her father-in-law’s house, where she numbly submits to the old man’s advances. But soon she finds herself in love with the young servant Saburo. Tormented by his indifference, yet invigorated by her desire, she makes her move, with catastrophic consequences.”
Author: Natsume Sōseki
Translator: Edwin McClellan
Publisher: Gateway Editions
Publishing Date: 2018
No. of Pages: 248
Synopsis: “Hailed by The New Yorker as “rich in understanding and insight,” Kokoro — “the heart of things” — is the work of one of Japan’s most popular authors. This thought-provoking trilogy of stories explores the very essence of loneliness and stands as a stirring introduction to modern Japanese literature. (Source: Goodreads)”
Title: The Memory Police
Author: Yoko Ogawa
Translator: Stephen Snyder
Publisher: Vintage Books
Publishing Date: July 2020
No. of Pages: 274
Synopsis: “On an unnamed island, objects are disappearing: first hats, then ribbons, birds, roses…. Most of the inhabitants are oblivious to these changes, while those few able to recall the lost objects live in fear of the draconian Memory Police, who are committed to ensuring that what has disappeared remains forgotten. When a young writer discovers that her editor is in danger, she concocts a plan to hide him beneath her floorboards, and together they cling to her writing as the last way of preserving the past. Powerful and provocative, The Memory Police is a stunning novel about the trauma of loss.”
Title: A Cat, a Man, and Two Women
Author: Jun’ichirō Tanizaki
Translator: Paul McCarthy
Publisher: Kodansha International
Publishing Date: 1990
No. of Pages: 164
Synopsis: “Tanizaki has long been regarded as one of the giants of twentieth-century Japanese writing. In the postwar period, most of his works have become known worldwide, and his place in modern literature is as assured as it is eminent.
What distinguishes this wonderful new collection – a novella (the titile story) and two shorter pieces – is its lightheartedness, its comic realism. All three stories, however, are variations on a favorite theme: dominance, and submission in private relationships. The “man: in the title piece is a typical Tanizaki hero – spoiled, self-indulgent, and obstinately ineffectual – caught up in a war between his vindictive former wife and her willful young successor, both rivals of the fourth party in the title: Lily – seductive, elegant, and magnificently in control – a tortoiseshell cat. The struggle among these three female characters for possession of this feckless man, and his bumbling attempts to assert himself, make for a series of richly entertaining confrontations.
This is followed by “The Little Kingdom,” which describes the curiously shifting relationship between a hard-pressed schoolteacher and a small but indomitable pupil determined to establish his own rule. And the collection ends with “Professor Rado,” a sly portrait of a self-important academic, seen from the point of view of a journalist eager to “get a story.” In a series of interviews, the professor responds to questions merely with grunts; but by accident the journalist ultimately discovers a scandalous hidden side to this eminently respectable gentleman – one so comically grotesque that it could only have come from Tanizaki’s well-known store of erotic curiosities.
Here is Tanizaki at his best, displaying – in a first international edition – the skills that made Mishima call his writing “above all, delicious, like French or Chinese cuisine.””
Title: The Makioka Sisters
Author: Jun’ichirō Tanizaki
Translator: Edward G. Seidensticker
Publisher: Vintage International
Publishing Date: October 1995
No. of Pages: 530
Synopsis: “In Osaka in the years immediately before World War II, four aristocratic women try to preserve a way of life that is vanishing. As told by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, the story of the Makioka sisters forms what is arguably the greatest Japanese novel of the twentieth century, a poignant yet unsparing portrait of a family – and an entire society – sliding into the abyss of modernity.
Tsukuro, the eldest sister, clings obstinately to the prestige of her family name even as her husband prepares to move their household to Tokyo, where that name means nothing. Sachiko compromises valiantly to secure the future of her younger sisters. The unmarried Yukiko is a hostage to her family’s exacting standards, while the spirited Taeko rebels by flinging herself into scandalous romantic alliances. Filled with vignettes of upper-class Japanese life and capturing both the decorum and the heartache of its protagonists, The Makioka Sisters is a classic of international literature.”