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

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.

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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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This book is certainly something! If anyone’s interested, I can give some more details about the cw. :slight_smile:

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Just a quick heads up that I will start the poll probably around 2022-04-14T16:00:00Z so if anybody wants to get another nomination in :upside_down_face:

@Jfredel78 I‘d definitely be up for reading the first book (have it sitting on my shelf actually ^^). Not sure about the second one as I‘m still struggling with older texts (but that shouldn’t keep you from nominating it!) and the third one indeed sounds like a silly funny mystery :smiley:

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I couldn’t manage to set up the poll yesterday evening (I’m just sooo busy holidaying right now :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:) but here it is:

It’s a Poll!!

Have a look at the List of Proposed Books section in the first post for details on each book. Every book has a difficulty associated with it (based on the book club members’ votes, thus subjective) out of 5, where 1 means “no effort at all” and 5 means “so much effort my head might explode”. The difficulty is annotated in the poll in square brackets after the book’s name.

Do not rely solely on difficulty when making a choice. Please have a look at the nomination posts and text samples if you haven’t already.

Expected reading pace: The proposals fall into two categories, Fast and Hard. We aim to read fast books at 30-50 pages per week and hard books at ~15 pages per week (that number might vary a bit throughout, depending on the book’s breaks and chapters). For manga, depending on difficulty and chapter length, we will probably read one to several chapters per week. The pick’s exact reading schedule will be negotiated before the book club kicks off.

Start of Book Club: We will start the next book on May 28th (after a one-week break).

Poll duration: The poll will be closed within a week (and most likely before that), whenever it looks like voting has dried up. You can choose up to 5 options.

  • Fast: 86―エイティシックス― [2.67]
  • Fast: クォンタムデビルサーガ アバタールチューナーⅠ [3.29]
  • Fast: 狼と香辛料 [2.67]
  • Fast: マスカレード・ホテル [1.89]
  • Fast: 風の谷のナウシカ [3.13]
  • Fast: 海辺のカフカ (上) [2.36]
  • Fast: 化物語(上) [2.8]
  • Fast: 虐殺器官 - Genocidal Organ [3]
  • Fast: ユージニア [2.25]
  • Fast: 蛇にピアス [2.33]
  • Hard: 檸檬 [3.6]
  • Hard: 風立ちぬ [3]
  • Hard: 午後の曳航 [3]
  • Hard: 文字渦 [3.86]

0 voters

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I’m a bit torn if I should remove my vote for Masquerade Hotel, since there is no e-book, and haven’t really found an affordable way to get it :melting_face:. Probably going to read it at some point, and been reading a lot of Keigo anyway lately…

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Thanks for pointing it out, I had missed it. I removed my vote for the same reason.
The lack of an ebook version is a problem for me. :neutral_face:

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I was actually a bit hesitant on that one just because I’m about 2/3 of the way through the movie version (I’ll finish it eventually :sweat_smile: ) and was worried about not being able to discuss as much since I might know some spoilers.

On the note of no ebook though I went to check what books he does have in ebook form and oh man - プラチナデータ was a fun movie adaptation. But honestly for how prolific of an author he is, he has so few in ebook form.

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Yeah, that’s really annoying, sorry for that :frowning: Some authors just don’t seem to like ebooks.

Luckily Murakami made up his mind about 18 months ago or something and released all of his books as ebooks. Therefore you can find the current poll leader here:
海辺のカフカ @ Bookwalker
(I’d like to update the nomination post but unfortunately Discourse won’t let me, grrr :rage:)

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There has not been much movement in the poll any more (and nothing that would change the result, on top of that) so I’m calling it a day.

The winner is 海辺のカフカ !

Will set up a home thread and schedule soon.

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