Happy Wednesday everyone! In just a flash, we are already in the last Wednesday of July. Wah, time flew by without me noticing it. Nevertheless, I hope everyone is doing well, both in body and in mind. We are living in a period of uncertainty which I hope and pray would end soon. 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?

I am about to embark on a new literary journey one of Natsume Sōseki’s popular works, Kokoro. After Botchan, which I read last 2019, this is going to be my second Sōseki novel although it is a different work of his that I have been pining for for years. I Am A Cat remains high on my reading list. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to Kokoro for it is a highly-heralded work of Japanese literature. I have not much to say for I haven’t started reading the book; I have just finished Genzaburo Yoshino’s How Do You Live. I am looking forward to the experience and I might be sharing my insights in my coming First Impression Friday post.

What have you finished reading?

After a couple of sluggish reading weeks, I managed to gain reading momentum. For the first time in a while, I managed to complete three novels. The first of these three novels is Mieko Kawakami’s Breasts and Eggs. It was a book that didn’t escape my attention after I encountered it several times last year. Upon researching more about the book, my interest was further piqued and I promised myself to include it in my reading list this year albeit the fact that I didn’t have a physical copy of the book. After waiting for a hardbound copy of the book, I settled with a paperback copy for I can no longer delay my excitement for the book. The novel introduced the readers to Natsuko, an aspiring writer. The book is divided into two parts, with the first section dealing with Natsuko’s sister and niece’s visit to Tokyo and the second part dealing mostly with Natsuko and her desire to have her own child. Breasts and Eggs is a feminist novel that explores the plight of women in modern Japan. It was an honest and frank work that rarely shied from dealing with what most would consider as a sensitive subject in a very conservative culture. Kawakami was brilliant in her challenge of the norms for modern Japanese women. Somehow, the novel reminded of Han Kang’s The Vegetarian. Both are works of East Asian women and both deals with the continuous struggle of liberating a woman’s body (and mind) from the expectations of patriarchal societies.

From a more contemporary work, my immersion into the depths of Japanese literature next brought me to another work of a highly regarded Japanese writer. The Lake is my fifth novel from Japan’s first Nobel Prize in Literature winner, Yasunari Kawabata. However, it is my first in almost four years; the last novel I read was Thousand Cranes. I was looking forward to the novel for it has been a while since I read any of Kawabata’s works. Gimpei Momoi is a socially-inept man and prefers being alone. However, he has his own idiosyncrasy, or perhaps a social or psychological malady that makes him another interesting character in Kawabata’s repertoire. He likes stalking women and was once dismissed from his job as a teacher after it was exposed he was having an affair with a student. Unlike the other Kawabata novels I have read, The Lake is bereft of a solid storyline and relies more on the characterization of Momoi. The story invites the reader into the mind of Momoi. Albeit Momoi not being a murderer, his obsession and stalking somehow reminded of Patrick Suskind’s Perfume.

Earlier today, I have just finished Yoshino Genzaburō’s How Do You Live? I haven’t heard of this 1937 novel until recently when there was a proliferation of the novel in online booksellers. It seems that this renewed interest in the novel was driven by the news of Hayao Miyazaki, of Studio Ghibli and Spirited Away fame, directing an animated film adaptation of the novel. It is set for release either later this year or in 2022. Jumping into the bandwagon, I immediately bought my own copy of the book although I had the feeling that it is a young adult novel. I was not mistaken but I didn’t mind for, in the end, it came of more as a coming-of-age novel. The narrative zeroes in on Junichi Honda, a 1st year (15 years old) junior high school student and was referred to as Copper after his uncle coined it. What made the novel interesting are the philosophical discourses which came in the form of a notebook his uncle (his mother’s brother) has written for him, and eventually given him. These discourses tackled a plethora of subjects such as poverty, bravery, science, and even capitalism. I did enjoy the novel and the friendship between Junichi, Kitami, Uragawa, and Mizutani. I wish the narrative explored more of this facet of the novel (perhaps the movie will provide more). Just like the two novels in this list, the novel reminded me of another literary work. The philosophical intersections somehow reminded me of Jostein Gaarder’s 1991 novel, Sophie’s World.

What will you read next?

There are still a lot of Japanese works I want to read but July is slowly coming to a close. Nevertheless, I have decided to extend to cover more grounds. Next on my list is another unfamiliar name who has been making the rounds lately. Does Convenience Store Women ring a bell? Whilst I have a copy of this novel, I am considering Sayaka Murata’s Earthlings as my next read. According to reviews I have come across, they find the novel eccentric and gave them several WTF (excuse the cuss) moments. This only piqued my interest further. After Earthlings, I want to indulge in the work of another Nobel Prize in Literature winner (Japan’s second). To be honest, I have been quite hesitant about Kenzaburō Ōe because he has been a known critique of Haruki Murakami. However, reading The Silent Cry made me appreciate his prose and made me look forward to reading more of his works; I have actually bought two more of his works, including Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids. Wow, I just learned that Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids was Ōe’s debut novel. This gives me more reason to look forward to it, apart from the fact that it was his only work listed as part of the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.

My hands are tied in the coming two weeks with month end closing looming over the horizon. Nevertheless, I am still hoping to read as many pages as I can. Thus concludes another WWW Wednesday update! I hope everyone is having a great midweek! Do keep safe and as always, enjoy reading!