Happy midweek everyone! Wow. We are already halfway through the week. Today is the first Wednesday of April. I hope that the coming days and months will be kind to everyone. I also hope that your week is going the way you want it to. I hope that the rest of the week will flow smoothly. More importantly, I hope everyone is doing well, in body, mind, and spirit.

As it is midweek, it is time for a fresh WWW Wednesday update, my first this year. WWW Wednesday is a bookish meme originally hosted by SAM@TAKING ON A WORLD OF WORDS. The mechanics for WWW Wednesday are 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?

After two months of delving into some of the best works of British and Irish literature, I am now pivoting toward one of my favorite parts of the literary world. Over the past few years, Japanese literature has become my comfort zone, a safe space of some sort. A Japanese literature month has become a yearly reading tradition and I planned to have it in July, my birth month. However, since I am in Japan right now, I decided to have it earlier than usual. Kicking off my journey in Japanese literature is The House of Nire, my first novel by Morio Kita. This is also my first translated literature this year; I wanted to tip the scale toward translated literature this year. Anyway, what reeled me into The House of Nire is its claim to being a parody of Nobel Laureate in Literature Thomas Mann, a writer whose prose I badly want to read. At the heart of the novel is the Nire family who runs a hospital in Tokyo in the early decades of the 20th century.

We read about the family’s trials and tribulations; this family saga is attributed to Buddenbrooks. The novel also grappled with mental health which is reminiscent of The Magic Mountain. The “parody” that is attached to the book, however, belies the major subjects it tackled. Indeed, there are humorous parts but there are also philosophical intersections. It is actually a lush novel juxtaposed to seminal historical events; the rise of Hitler and the studies of Sigmund Freud, for instance, were referenced. I still have quite a long way from finishing the book but I must say that I am impressed.

What have you finished reading?

A stark dichotomy from the busy week I had prior to this week, in the past seven days, I only managed to complete one book; this can also be attributed to my current read which is over 700 pages. The book I completed reading was Pat Barker’s The Women of Troy, the book that also capped my journey across British and Irish literature. It was through this book that I first encountered Barker. I would, later on, learn that she won the Booker Prize with her novel The Ghost Road. I obtained copies of both books. However, I had to withhold reading The Ghost Road because I learned it was the last book of a trilogy; I wanted to do the right thing and start with the first book. I also withheld reading The Women of Troy after I learned it was the sequel to The Silence of the Girls. But now that I read The Silence of the Girls, I can now proceed with The Women of Troy.

Picking up from where she left off, Barker again reintroduces Briseis, the once queen of the fallen kingdom of Lyrnessus. She was a captive of the famed Achilles but after Achilles’ demise, she has been entrusted to Alcimus, one of the few men Achilles trusted, and far from the crutches of Agamemnon. Troy has finally fallen, King Priam was dead, and the Greeks were basking in their victory. However, Briseis is still not clear of danger as Achilles’ son, Pyrrhus, was of a different breed. He may have his father’s fighting acumen but he lacked his father’s wisdom. One of the novel’s key action drivers revolved around the burial of King Priam’s body. Meanwhile, the women of Troy were plotting their path to freedom. Compared to its prequel, the novel’s writing was surer. Overall, an interesting story and I surmise a third book is on the way.

To make my foray into Japanese literature more interesting – and memorable as well – I have decided to first read works of Japanese writers whose prose I have not explored previously. This is the reason for The House of Nire being the opening act for my Japanese literature month (or months probably). I will befolliwiing it up with more Japanese writers who are new to me, starting with Sawako Ariyoshi’s work of historical fiction, The Doctor’s Wife. Her novel, The River Ki, is also a classic of Japanese literature, it seems. I am also lining up Natsuko Imamuro’s The Woman in the Purple Skirt. Speaking of which, I have noted how Japanese literature, particularly during the 20th century, has been dominated by men such as Yukio Mishima, Kenzaburō Ōe, Shūsaku Endō, Yasunari Kawabata, and Jun’ichirō Tanizaki. It warms my heart how female Japanese writers have been ascending lately with the likes of Mieko Kawakami, Yōko Ogawa, and Sayaka Murata gaining global recognition.

I will then deviate as I plan to read the work of Sôsuke Natsukawa who I just learned was a doctor by profession before shifting toward writing. His novel, The Cat Who Saved Books captured my interest mainly because it involves a cat. Cats, I have noted, have a prominent place in Japanese literature. I can’t count how many times I have encountered works of Japanese Literature with the word “cat” on the title; Natsume Sōseki’s I Am A Cat has never left my mind. I sure hope these three books will keep my mind engaged

That’s it for this week’s WWW Wednesday. I hope you are all doing great. Happy reading and always stay safe! Happy Wednesday again!