This is the second part of my May 2022 Book haul. For the first part, click here. While Part I featured books originally written in English, Part II features translated works. Interestingly, these books were written originally in two languages: three were in German and four were in Japanese. The German writers, moreover, were recipients of the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature. Without more ado, here is the second part of my May 2022 Book Haul. Happy reading!

Title: The Magic Mountain
Author: Thomas Mann
Translator: H.T. Lowe-Porter
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publishing Date: 1960
No. of Pages: 716

Synopsis: A spectacular novel of ideas, The Magic Mountain is one of Germany’s most formative contributions to modern European literature, both for the themes it discusses and for its highly sophisticated structure.

Young, naive, and impressionable, Hans Castorp arrives at a sanatorium high in the Swiss Alps to find himself surrounded by exponents of widely differing political and philosophical attitudes. Amid sickness and decay he is forced to explore both the meaning of love and death and the relationship of one to the other. As he does so, the pattern that emerges from his discussions with his companions, and from his own musings, becomes a symbol of the forces below – forces that would culminate in the First World War and the destruction of pre-1914 civilization.

Title: Peter Camenzind
Author: Hermann Hesse
Translator: W.J. Strachan
Publisher: Peter Owen
Publishing Date: 2002
No. of Pages: 174

Synopsis: Peter Camenzind is the novel that ensured Hermann Hesse’s early literary reputation. Its semi-autobiographical basis gives us an important glimpse into the development of his beliefs and concerns, in particular the struggle of an artist to achieve a personal aesthetic ideal within a materialist and uncomprehending society.

Peter Camenzind is an introverted peasant boy, who becomes a student at Zurich University. He seems destined for some minor academic post, yet he does not choose this path, instead seeking enlightenment and self-knowledge in travel and worldly pleasures. But this salvation proves hard to attain, and it is not until he returns to his home village to care for his dying father that he can find the path that leads back to himself.

Title: The Prodigy
Author: Hermann Hesse
Translator: W. J. Strachan
Publisher: Peter Owen
Publishing Date: 2002
No. of Pages: 188

Synopsis: The Prodigy, originally dating from 1905, is Herman Hesse’s bitter indictment of conventional education.

It is the story of Hans Giebenrath, the brilliant young son of provincial bourgeois in southern Germany who becomes the first boy from his town to pass into a prestigious Protestant theological college. His spirit, however, is systematically broken by his parents and teachers; over-anxious about his success, they forget to consider his health and happiness. Subsiding into a fatal apathy, he is taken home for medical reasons. Here he falls in love, becomes an engineer’s apprentice, learns to drink alcohol and eventually dies by drowning.

Out of his attitude to the treatment that he perceived was common within the German schooling system at the beginning of the twentieth century, Hesse developed his own deeply personal views on the value of Eastern education in developing the self.

Title: Wonderful Fool
Author: Shusaku Endo
Translator: Francis Mathy
Publisher: Peter Owen
Publishing Date: 2002
No. of Pages: 237

Synopsis: Wonderful Fool is the story of Gaston Bonaparte, a young Frenchman who visits Toko to stay with his pen-friend Takamori. Gaston is a trusting person with a simple love for others even after they have demonstrated deceit and betrayal, but his appearance and his behaviour proves a bitter disappointment and embarrassment to Takamori and his associates, as Gaston spends his time making friends with street children, stray dogs, prostitutes, and gangsters. Endo charts his misadventures with irony, satire, and humanity.

Title: Inspector Imanishi Investigates
Author: Seichō Matsumoto
Translators: Beth Cary
Publisher: Soho Press
Publishing Date: 1989
No. of Pages: 313

Synopsis: Inspector Imanishi . . . Haiku poet, gardener, and the most dogged homicide detective on the Tokyo police force.

Title: The Cat Who Saved Books
Author: Sosuke Natsukawa
Translator: Louise Kawai
Publisher: HarperVia
Publishing Date: 2021
No. of Pages: 192

Synopsis: Awkward high school student Rintaro Natsuki is about to close the secondhand bookshop he inherited from his beloved grandfather. For this bookworm by blood, shutting down Natsuki Books is no easy task – it’s been his sanctuary and hideout from the demands of school and the world at large. However, before the bookshop’s doors are shut for good, a talking cat appears with an unusual request. The feline requests the teenager’s help in saving books from abusive and negligent owners, and it won’t take no for an answer.

Their mission sends this odd couple on an amazing journey to set books free. Through their travels to strange dimensions, the cat and Rintaro meet a businessman who leaves his books to perish on a bookshelf, a scholar who cuts pages into snippets to encourage speed reading, and a publishing drone who cares only about bestsellers. Their adventures culminate in one final, fantastic challenge – the last labyrinth leads Rintaro down a realm where a certain soul hangs in the balance…

Books, first love, fantasy, and an unusual friendship with a talking cat – The Cat Who Saved Books has it all. Sosuke Natsukawa has written a novel where books are so much more than words on paper. You’ll want to follow this “tail” until the very last page.

Title: All the Lovers in the Night
Author: Mieko Kawakami
Translator: Sam Bett and David Boyd
Publisher: Picador
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 219

Synopsis: Fuyuko Irie is a freelance proofreader in her thirties. Living alone, and unable to form meaningful relationships, she has little contact with anyone other than Hijiri, someone she works with. When she sees her reflection, she’s confronted with a tired and spiritless woman who has failed to take control of her own life. Her one source of solace: light. Every Christmas Eve, Fuyuko heads out to catch a glimpse of the lights that fill the Tokyo night. But it is a chance encounter with a man named Mitsutsuka that awakens something new in her. And so her life begins to change.

As Fuyuko starts to see the world in a different light, painful memories from her past begin to resurface. Fuyuko needs to be loved, to be heard, and to be seen. But living in a small world of her own making, will she find the strength to bring down the walls that surround her? All The Lovers in the Night is acute and insightful, entertaining and captivating, pulsing and poetic, modern and shocking. It’s another unforgettable novel from Japan’s most exciting writer.