Length: 877 pages Category: Long & suitable for “beachside leisure”
30,800 yen on Amazon.jp
While the author tends towards more old-fashioned language and often uses more complicated words than the reader may find necessary, helpful definitions and illustrations help the reader through this scintillating tale.
Clear breakup into different sections makes for stimulating reading with constant changes of topics and fast pacing. At times, the plot feels somewhat difficult to follow. However, careful reading is rewarded.
While I have not read any of this author’s other works, I can imagine that they would be equivalently verbose. The unnatural level of fascination with obscure words and the overall disinterest in character arcs or plot development provides the reader the glimpse of what a true post post post post post modern novel can achieve given true dedication to one’s vision. Overall, I think that this could be a very powerful group read.
lots of neat words
clear definitions neatly added in the book to aid the reader throught the story
provocative rethinking of literature in modern times
*Only 38,000 yen
Akutagawa wrote a series of short stories set in Heian period, Edo period or early Meiji period Japan. These stories reinterpreted classical works and historical incidents. He was a strong opponent of naturalism. Some of his short stories have more modern settings.
Length: 322 pages (but see reading suggestion below) Category: hard&slow
I watched the movie “Rashomon” by Akira Kurosawa which retells Akutagawa’s “In a Grove” (藪の中). (Interestingly, only the title and the frame scenes set in the Rashomon Gate are taken from his other short story “Rashomon”.) So I wanted to read 藪の中 and that’s how I ended up buying this book.
Also, the author is very renowned: He is regarded as the “Father of the Japanese short story” and Japan’s premier literary award, the Akutagawa Prize, is named after him.
For the reading club, I think the full book might be too long, but many of the short stories are less than 20 pages, which makes them ideal for a weekly reading assignment. It would be nice if we could pick a handful of the stories and read them together.
The stories in the book have been rewritten in modern Japanese; I did not research all of the Aozora stories though. The start of the first story in the book is identical on Aozora, but other Aozora stories use old Kana, so we’d need to check on a case-by-case basis.
Pros and Cons for the Book Club
Adjustable length (because short stories)
Some of the stories are translated to English (for those interested)
Stories from his later life are distinctly autobiographical (which might be depressing due to his deteriorating physical and mental health)
Some of his stories reinterpret classical works and historical incidents, which might be hard to fully understand without knowledge of these foundations.
I was thinking, we might even want to have a Read Aloud session for it! We could read it with distributed roles, e.g. one for the introductory keyword, one for the underpart of the grammar remarks, and one for the main part
This sounds super interesting, but it’d definitely be a tougher read for me judging by the bookwalker samples. Also between the Kiki re-read, 百人一首, my own reading, and everyday life stuff, I think I’m finally understanding the “being in too many book clubs” feeling
So many of these books sound like great reads, and I’m all about challenging myself, but I wonder about my ability to stay up to date if I add another
I am also slowly realizing I may need to start ‘picking’ my book clubs. But a lot of times what starts as a neutral “eh, I don’t have particularly strong feelings about this one, so why not” read ends up really enjoyable. And there’s a lot of really interesting nominations here, so I really don’t want to. xD
Maybe I can just further de-prioritize other things…
Why did these ordinary housewives scatter the dead body of their friend’s husband?
These housewives work the night shift at a bento factory. They hold an unknown anxiety and despair in their hearts. An unexpected case uncovers their lifestyles and their longing to break free from it. Why did they scatter the corpse of the husband of their friend? Find out in this crime novel!
Thank you for notifying me!! That’s so nice of you!
I think it’ll be difficult for me to get my hands on any Japanese books short-term, so I’m not sure whether I will be able to join (on time). I’ll keep an eye on this thread though, so I can at least try to purchase the book you all choose!
Ding ding ding, it is time! 17 nominations?! That’s insane. Although, I have to admit, it’s much easier to write nominations for this club than for any other. Also, there’s probably more books I want to read here than I have votes to spare, which is always a good problem to have.
Clock strikes 12, thread turns back into a POLLmpkin.
We’ll let it run for at least 2 days, planning to close the poll 2020-07-12T03:00:00Z. We might extend it one more day through the weekend for folks who only log on Saturday/Sunday. You may choose up to five books.