This is the last part of my April 2023 Book Haul. I, quite unexpectedly (or perhaps not), obtained way more books than I usually do, hence, I have divided my book haul update for April into three parts. The last part features works of Japanese literature which was also the main motif of my April (and now May) reading journey. I have already read some of these works which is uncharacteristic of me. Nevertheless, here is the last part of my April 2023 book haul. Happy reading!

Title: Dance Dance Dance
Author: Haruki Murakami
Translator: Alfred Birnbaum
Publisher: Vintage International
Publishing Date: 1995 (1988)
No. of Pages: 393

Synopsis: Dance Dance Dance – a follow-up to A Wild Sheep Chase – is a tense, poignant, and often hilarious ride through Murakami’s Japan, a place where everything that is not up for sale is up for grabs.

As Murakami’s nameless protagonist searches for a mysteriously vanished girlfriend, he is plunged into a wind tunnel of sexual violence and metaphysical dread In this propulsive novel, featuring a shabby but oracular Sheep Man, one of the most idiosyncratically brilliant writers at work today fuses together science fiction, the hard-boiled thriller, and white-hot satire.

Title: Before the Coffee Gets Cold
Author: Toshikazu Kawaguchi
Translator: Geoffrey Trousselot
Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Publishing Date: 2020 (2015)
No. of Pages: 272

Synopsis: If you could go back, who would you want to meet?

In a small back alley of Tokyo, there is a café that has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. Local legend says that this shop offers something else besides coffee – the chance to travel back in time.

Over the course of one summer, four customers visit the café in the hopes of making that journey. But time travel isn’t so simple, and there are rules that must be followed. Most important, the trip can last only as long as it takes for the coffee to get cold.

Heartwarming, wistful, mysterious and delightfully quirky, Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s internationally bestselling novel explores the age-old question: What would you change if you could travel back in time?

Title: Diary of A Void
Author: Emi Yagi
Translator: David Boyd and Lucy North
Publisher: Viking
Publishing Date: August 9, 2022 (December 2, 2020)
No. of Pages: 213

Synopsis: When thirty-four-year-old Ms. Shibata gets a new job in Tokyo to escape sexual harassment at her old one, she finds that as the only woman at her new workplace – a company that manufactures cardboard tubes for paper towel and toilet paper rolls – she is expected to do all the menial tasks. One day she announces that she can’t clear away her coworkers’ dirty cups – because she’s pregnant and the smell nauseated her. The only thing is. . . Ms. Sibata is not pregnant.

Pregnant Ms. Shibta doesn’t have to serve coffee to anyone. Pregnant Ms. Shibata isn’t forced to work overtime. Pregnant Ms. Shibata rests, watches TV, takes long baths, and even joins an aerobics class for expectant mothers. She’s finally being treated by her colleagues as more than a hollow core. But she has a nine-month ruse to keep up. Before long, it becomes all-absorbing, and with the help of tower-stuffed shirts and a diary app that tracks every stage of her “pregnancy,” the boundary between her lie and her life begins to dissolve.

Surreal and absurdist, and with a winning matter-of-factness, a light touch, and a refreshing sensitivity to mental health, Diary of a Void will keep you turning the pages to see just how far Ms. Shibata will carry her deception for the sake of women, and especially working mothers, everywhere.

Title: No Longer Human
Author: Osamu Dazai
Translator: Donald Keene
Publisher: New Directs
Publishing Date: 1973 (1948)
No. of Pages: 177

Synopsis: Portraying himself as a failure, the protagonist of Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human narrates a seemingly normal life even while he feels himself incapable of understanding human beings. Oba Yozo’s attempts to reconcile himself to the world around him begin in early childhood, continue through high school, where he becomes a “clown” to mask his alienation, and eventually lead to a failed suicide attempt as an adult. Without sentimentality, he records the casual cruelties of life and its fleeting moments of human connection and tenderness.

Semi-autobiographical, No Longer Human is the final completed work of one of Japan’s most important writers, Osamu Dazai (1909-1948). The novel has come to “echo the sentiments of youth” (Hiroshi Ando, The Mainichi Daily News) from post-war Japan to the postmodern society of technology. Still one of the ten bestselling books in Japan, No Longer Human is a powerful exploration of an individual’s alienation from society.

Title: Lonely Castle in the Mirror
Author: Mizuki Tsujimura
Translator: Philip Gabriel
Publisher: Erewhon Books
Publishing Date: 2021 (2017)
No. of Pages: 377

Synopsis: Seven students find unusual common ground in this warm, puzzle-like Japanese bestseller laced with gentle fantasy and compassionate insight.

Bullied to the point of dropping out of school, Kokoro’s days blur together as she hides in her bedroom, unable to face her family or friends. As she spirals into despair, her mirror begins to shine; with a touch, Kokoro is pulled from her lonely life into a resplendent, bizarre fairytale castle guarded by a strange girl in a wolf mask. Six other students have been brought to the castle, and soon this marvelous refuge becomes their playground.

The castle has a hidden room that can grant a single wish, but there are rules to be followed, and breaking them will have dire consequences. As Kokoro and her new acquaintances spend more time in their new sanctuary, they begin to unlock the castle’s secret and, tentatively, each other’s.

With the thoughtful whimsy of Before the Coffee Gets Cold, the exquisite textures of A Tale for the TIme Being, and the youthful resonance of Your Name, Mizuki Tsujimura paints an intricate portrait of a cycle of loneliness that can only be broken by friendship, empathy, and sacrifice. Lonely Castle in the Mirror is a mesmerizing, heart-warming novel about the unexpected rewards of embracing human connection.

Title: If Cats Disappeared From the World
Author: Genki Kawamura
Translator: Eric Selland
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publishing Date: March 2019 (2012)
No. of Pages: 168

Synopsis: The young postman’s days are numbered.

Estranged from his family and living alone, with only his cat, Cabbage, to keep him company, he was unprepared for the doctor’s diagnosis that he has only months to live. But before he can tackle his bucket list, the devil shows up to make him an offer: In exchange for making one thing in the world disappear, the postman will be granted one extra day of life. And so begins a very strange week that brings the young postman and his beloved cat to the brink of existence.

With each object that disappears, the postman reflects on the life he’s lived, his joys and regrets, and the people he’s loved and lost.

Genki Kawamura’s timeless tale is a moving story of loss and reconciliation, and of one man’s journey to discover what really matters most in life.

Title: I Am A Cat
Author: Natsume Sōseki
Translator: Aiko Ito, Graeme Wilson
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
Publishing Date: 2002 (1906)
No. of Pages: 469

Synopsis: “I am a cat. As yet I have no name.”

So beings one of the most original and unforgettable works in Japanese literature.

Richly allegorical and delightfully readable, I Am a Cat is the chronicle of an unloved, unwanted, wandering kitten who spends all his time observing human nature – from the drams of businessmen and schoolteachers to the foibles of priests and potentates. From this unique perspective, author Sōseki Natsume offers a biting commentary – shaped by his training n Chinese philosophy – on the social upheaval of the Meiji era.

I Am a Cat first appeared in ten installments in the literary magazine Hototogisu (Cuckoo) between 1905 and 1906. Sōseki had not intended to write more than the short story that makes up the first chapter of this book. After its great critical and popular success, he expanded it into this epic novel, which is universally recognized as a classic of world literature.

Title: The Old Capital
Author: Yasunari Kawabata
Translator: J Mortan Holman
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
Publishing Date: 1988 (1962)
No. of Pages: 164

Synopsis: The Old Capital is one of the three works for which Yasunari Kawabata won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Set in Kyoto – the old capital of Japan for a thousand years – this lyric novel traces the life of Chieko, the beloved adopted daughter of a kimono designer and his wife. Believing that she had been kidnapped by the couple as a baby, Chieko learns one day that she was instead a foundling, left abandoned on a doorstep. Happy with her adopted parents, however, her security and contentment remain undisturbed until an answered prayer at the famous Yasaka Shrine dramatically alters the course of her life.

Over two decades after his death in 1972, Yasuari Kawabata remains one of Japan’s most distinguished and widely translated writers. In 1968 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, the first Japanese to win the prestigious award.

Title: The Devotion of Suspect X
Author: Kiego Higashino
Translator: Alexander O. Smith, Elye J. Alexander
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publishing Date: 2011 (2005)
No. of Pages: 312

Synopsis: A mother’s determination to protect her daughter drives her to a brutal act. A man’s unspoken devotion inspires him to cover up her crime. A detective’s drive for justice leads him into the ultimate battle of wits.

With one surprising twist after another, leading to a stunning final turn, The Devotion of Suspect X will linger in the reader’s mind long after the last page is turned.