Advanced Japanese Book Club // Next: アンダーグラウンド

I’ll just go ahead and nominate Panorama Island since I talked about it.

パノラマ島綺譚

(also spelled パノラマ島奇談)
Author: 江戸川乱歩

Summary

Japanese

日本の探偵小説界に大きな足跡を残した江戸川乱歩の作品。貧乏小説家の人見廣介と大富豪の菰田源三郎はうり二つであった。源三郎が死んだことにより廣介は成りすましを考える。果たしてそれはうまく実行され、念願の芸術を完成させるためある島をパノラマ島へ大改造してしまう。目くるめく壮大で華麗な島。やがて完成間際というとき、源三郎の妻が疑念を抱く。果たして夫は本物の夫なのか。想像の極地のパノラマ島で起こったこととは……

English (technically of the manga adaptation but I'm not sure it matters)

Hitomi Hirosuke enters the Showa era as a poor novelist dreaming of leaving his mark on the world. His latest story is rejected by his editor but Hitomi finds a new way to make his dream a reality. A school friend, a wealthy, rural family head, dies suddenly. Hitomi, who has always bared a striking resemblance to his former friend, concocts a plan to “resurrect” Genzaburo Komoda and take his place. He plans to use the Komoda fortune to realize his dream; constructing an island paradise of excess and debauchery.

Length: My copy is 136 pages or so
Category: Hard (it’s from the 1920s)

Availability

amazon.co.jp
one of the paid Bookwalker options
Aozora version (on bookwalker) - FREE!

Personal Opinion

I wanted to nominate an Edogawa Ranpo book for the club, and this is a standalone novel of about the right length that’s the highest on my priorities list of stuff to read by him. I’m pretty sure hearing about the manga adaptation is how Ranpo came onto my radar in the first place, and the afterword in a Ranpo collection I read talked quite a bit about Panorama Island as well.

I haven’t read this particular book yet, but Ranpo in general seems like a great fit for the book club, since his writing can be complex but gripping.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • Prominent standalone work from a major author of mysteries and horror
  • There’s a gorgeous-looking manga adaptation
  • a good length, pre-divided into short chunks
  • one site calls it a 幻想的でおどろおどろしい世界を描いた不思議な物語 which sounds cool
  • there’s at least one English translation

Cons

  • Ranpo’s writing can tend to be lurid, and reading a little deeper into the synopsis than what I posted, it sounds like it could be pretty messed up in places. It might not be for everyone in the book club, especially without someone having read it already to provide exact content warnings.
  • It’s possible there’s other Ranpo books out there that could be a better fit.

Pictures

First Three Pages of Chapter One



Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • No effort at all
  • Minimal effort
  • Moderate effort
  • Significant effort
  • So much effort my head might explode
  • I don’t know
0 voters
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