Today is the last day of the sixth month of 2021. Despite the challenging times, we have made it midway through the year. I hope you are all doing well, in body as well as in mind, despite the uncertainty of our circumstances. With the midweek is another WWW Wednesday update. WWW Wednesday is a bookish meme originally hosted by SAM@TAKING ON A WORLD OF WORDS. The mechanics for WWW Wednesday is quite simple, you just have to answer three questions:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What have you finished reading?
  3. What will you read next?

What are you currently reading?

My immersion into Japanese literature (one of my favorite section of the vast literary world) is in full swing. My current reading journey has brought me to a book I have been looking forward to for the longest time. I think it was in 2016 (or perhaps earlier or later) that I first encountered Junichiro Tanizaki’s The Makioka Sisters. There was something about the book that reeled me in even though I barely had any iota on what it was about; I haven’t read any of Tanizaki’s works either. This was the time my interest in Japanese literature started to flourish. After years of waiting, I finally had my copy of the book and I am more than happy to include it as part of my 2021 Top 21 Reading List. The novel relates the story of the four Makioka sisters – Tsuruko,, Sachiko, Yukiko, and Taeko – as they navigate the world following the unceremonious decline of their family’s reputation. In typical Japanese historical fiction style, the novel also explores the dichotomies between traditions and the pivot towards more liberal ideals. I have just started reading the novel this morning but it feels like I have covered a vast ground already.

What have you finished reading?

Pinball, 1973 is the 12th Haruki Murakami novel I have read. It was also his second novel, and a sequel to his debut novel, Hear the Wind Sing. With Pinabll, 1973, I have now completed the Trilogy of the Rat; I read A Wild Sheep Chase last year. A step out of the typical Murakami surrealist genre, Pinball, 1973 is a slice-of-novel relating the story of an anonymous character (an element is shares with Murakami’s latter works) and his obsession with pinball. However, the novel doesn’t reduce itself into a novel about an addiction by the apathetic and detached protagonist. The short novel also dealt with heavy themes such as loneliness and the constant need for companionship, purposelessness, and destiny. It is one of those books you wished was longer.

With nearly 400 pages, Kikuko Tsumura’s There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job certainly has no problem with length. The novel, which I picked up earlier this year in one of my not-so-random trips to the bookstore, immediately caught my attention because of its cover and title. (I actually bought it together with Pinball, 1973, and Hear the Wind Sing). For my Japanese Literature journey, I have decided to alternate writers I have read before with authors that are unfamiliar with me, hence, There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job ended up being my third Japanese literary work this year. In contrast to Murakami’s works, this novel is more contemporary and is an attempt to reflect the challenges millenials face in the corporate world. The primary protagonist and narrator remained anonymous as she can be anyone of us. We follow her as she works her way through to five different jobs in the span of a year. I liked the premise but the novel ended up like a collection of short stories that are not interconnected. The ending was also predictable. It was, nevertheless, interesting and thought provoking.

What will you read next?

Banana Yoshimoto has long been on my list of authors whose works I wanted to read. Unfortunately, I always missed out on her works but luckily, I managed to snag a copy of Kitchen, which happens to be the Yoshimoto work I have been wanting to read as well. To ensure that I get to read the novel this year, I added it to my 2021 Top 21 Reading List. Another book that is part of the said list is Yoko Ogawa’s The Memory Police. I immediately fell in love with Ogawa’s The Professor and the Housekeeper when I read it last year. However, The Memory Police, shortlisted for the 2020 Booker International Prize, is obviously different from the slice-of-life I have read last year. Nevertheless, in reading a different section of Ogawa’s prose I am hoping to get a deeper insight into her body of work.

Thus concludes another WWW Wednesday update! I hope everyone is having a great midweek! Do keep safe and as always, enjoy reading!