Advanced Japanese Book Club // Now reading: 海辺のカフカ・Next: 狼と香辛料

Agreed. I would certainly consider reading a translated book if it were translated from a language I don’t know into Japanese and there’s no English (my first language) translation available. Even then I would still consider it a “con” for voting.

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I don’t have any issues at all with this (in fact I’m currently reading two books that are translations into Japanese), but from the reactions of the others it might be the case that your nomination won’t be that popular after all, so maybe save the effort and/or rather suggest something in Japanese instead?

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That’s what I’m kind of leaning towards as well. As Napthalene said, I could definitely suggest it, but I don’t want to put forward a book that the group’s not really feeling the first place; there’s plenty to read out there.

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I would also be open to reading a translation if it was from a language I don’t speak. I’ve been vaguely thinking of reading The Three-Body Problem (三体) translated from Chinese to Japanese, probably because I heard about it in a Japanese podcast.

But anyway, what’s the book you wanted to nominate? I’m curious now.

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魔道祖師, so also Chinese in origin.There is an official English translation (as “Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation”) being published nowadays, though, so that might also count as point against it.

Dang, I like the Japanese covers they have for these. I have the first book in English but haven’t read it myself.

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ユージニア

Author : 恩田 陸 (おんだ りく)
Page count: 420 pages

Summary

Japanese

北陸・K市の名士・青澤家を襲った大量毒殺事件。乾杯の音頭の直後、皆がもがき苦しみ始めた。家族・親族、相伴に与った業者、遊びに来ていた近所の住人・子どもたちも合わせて、17名が死亡した。現場には、 ユージニア という意味不明の言葉が出てくる詩のような一通の手紙が残されていた。

事件は混迷を極め、捜査は遅々として進まなかった。しかし、事件から約3カ月が経過した10月も終わりの頃、一人の男が自殺した。不眠と妄想に苛まれ、精神科への通院歴もあったこの男が、今回の事件をやったのは自分だ、と遺書を残していたのだ。不明な点もあったものの、事件は一応の決着を見た。

事件から数十年、見落とされていた事件の「真実」を人々が語り出す。

English

The novel starts in the 1960s when 17 people die of cyanide poisoning at a party given by the owners of a prominent clinic in a town on the coast of the Sea of Japan. The only surviving links to what might have happened are a cryptic verse that could be the killer’s and the physician’s bewitching blind daughter Hisako, the only person spared injury. The youth who emerges as the prime suspect commits suicide that October effectively sealing his guilt while consigning his motives to mystery.
Years later, the author of a book about the murders and a police detective try to find out the truth about this crime. But the truth is only what we see from our perspective…

Length :
Category :

Availability

Amazon
Bookwalker

Personal Opinion

Somebody recommended a criminal story by Onda Riku that would turn into a bit of a fantasy story, but they did not give the title. From what they described, it might have been this book (or not), so I’m curious to learn more about it.

Onda Riku is also the author of 夜のピクニック - not sure if this is a pro or a con? :sweat_smile:

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • A criminal story!
  • The recommendation sounded interesting to me, so I’m interested to find out more
  • The book won the 59th 日本推理作家協会賞 (Mystery Writers of Japan Award) in 2006.
  • There is an English translation available (it’s called The Aosawa Murders).
  • There is also a brand-new German translation available (called Die Aosawa-Morde).

Cons

  • Yet another criminal story…

Also, please see @wiersm“s comment on the book below.

Pictures

First Three Pages of Chapter One



Additional Pages



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

7 Likes

… Was “Eugenia” taken? :stuck_out_tongue:

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No idea to be honest :joy_cat:
Such a nice name but they didn’t seem to like it…

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Ooh, I read it in English, so if this gets picked, I might be tempted to join to see if I can understand it in Japanese too.

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Oh! No spoilers please but was it good?

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It’s extra weird to think of a white サルスベリ flower when you know the kanji for that tree is 百日紅 :rofl:

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Yes, I thought it was a pretty good crime novel. It has some nice twists and turns that make you go back and forth on what might have really gone down. I think it would be a good pick for the book club because you can have a lot of fun speculating about what really happened and there are also plenty of things (sometimes shocking) that happen that are worth discussing.

A peculiarity of the book is that every chapter is told from the perspective of a different character. This can be a pro or a con depending on how you look at it. The constant drip feed of information from different perspectives is interesting but it also means that the narrative style changes every chapter so that might make it a harder read because you never really settle into one writing style.

I also seem to remember that the book was a bit confusing at certain points. I’m not sure if that is also the case in the original or if that was simply a flawed translation.

7 Likes

Wow, thanks very much for the insights! I added a link to it to my nomination post.

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蛇にピアス

Author: 金原ひとみ
Page count: 124 (hardcover)

Summary

Japanese

「スプリットタンって知ってる?」そう言って、男は蛇のように二つに割れた舌を出した―。その男アマと同棲しながらサディストの彫り師シバとも関係をもつルイ。彼女は自らも舌にピアスを入れ、刺青を彫り、「身体改造」にはまっていく。痛みと快楽、暴力と死、激しい愛と絶望。今を生きる者たちの生の本質を鮮烈に描き、すばる文学賞と芥川賞を受賞した、金原ひとみの衝撃のデビュー作。

English

Describing a world as amoral and fascinating as the landscapes of Less Than Zero and Trainspotting, this novel about a young woman living in the violent world of Japan’s underground youth culture is both shocking and strangely beautiful.

Enchanted by the snakelike forked tongue of a stranger called Ama, nineteen-year-old Lui takes a walk on another side of life. Following Ama home the night she meets him, Lui straightaway moves in with him and begins making plans to have her own tongue pierced. Determined to push her boundaries further, she asks Ama’s strange friend Shiba to design an exquisite dragon tattoo for her back. But when Lui and Shiba begin an affair, Ama’s jealousy is stirred and the situation becomes explosive.

Availability

Amazon
Bookwalker

Personal Opinion

This book is described as a cult classic, very controversial, but also an Akutagawa Prize winner. I’m interested in Japanese counterculture, which this book promises a lot of. Also, it’s a short read, and it’s not a mystery novel. The language also doesn’t seem too difficult from the few pages I looked at, so it seems like a quick and intriguing read to shake things up.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • Quick and easy
  • Akutagawa Prize winner
  • Not a mystery
  • Famous cult classic

Cons

  • Some twisted/disturbing/S&M content?

Pictures

First Three Pages of Chapter One



Additional Pages



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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There’s one nomination from me. I have a few other books that I could nominate, but I don’t have time to paste all those page scans right now. :laughing:

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I read this book in English before. It was a required book from my university. I don’t have any ピアス, so this book was mind-blowing for me.

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I already read this, definitely has some dark motives, and lot of 18+ scenes. But the language is not that difficult (once you checked those 18+ words in the dictionary), I think it could even be passed to the intermediate book club.

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If it’s easy enough, it could potentially be a three week read then? 40 pages a week?

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Also, these are some other books I have on my shelf that I could nominate. If there’s any preliminary interest, I can make a proper nomination thread.

限りなく透明に近いブルー
Author: 村上龍
(Another Akutagawa Prize winner about sex and drugs, very short, 18+)
image

道草
Author: 夏目漱石
(Autobiographical tale of financial and romantic struggle from the famous author, long and probably difficult)
image

珍名ばかりが狙われる連続殺人鬼ヤマダの息子
Author: 黒川慈雨
(Long title, goofy premise, possibly a fun summer mystery?)
image

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Well I’m not very experienced in the usual pacing of the book club, but I read it in 4 days (next to work, etc.), and in the first post I see that 40 is within the aim, so I think 3 weeks is totally doable.

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