Advanced Japanese Book Club // Now reading: 薬屋のひとりごと - Next: 海辺のカフカ

Forgot to say: you need to have the Regular status to do that. Otherwise, you’ll need a mod to make it a wiki for you.

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That’s only if you guys plan to do a read aloud though, which could be challenging at 30-45 pages per week. 獣の奏者 takes us 1.5-2 hours and that’s when the chapter is 15-20 pages. Granted we’re just chatting for 10-15 minutes at the start and we’re stopping to ask questions, which may not happen much in an advanced club.

The 本好き book or something else?

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That’s what the Re: zero club is doing, though? Also I’m not saying we need to read out loud, but if we do, we should use the same server.

Yes.

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Oh yeah, that’s impressive!

Hopefully I can keep up if you pick that one!

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Sounds good!

In the other clubs we sometimes have polls when to start a new book. We could do this here as well to check back with members when they are ready to tackle the next one or whether they need a longer break. Other than that, I’d lean towards Naphthalene 's suggestion of a one week break.

(Copying my thoughts from the previous discussion:)

For the discord channel, I’m not sure about this. We will not be able to read a whole book aloud if we go at that pace, plus we (in the Kemono no Souja read aloud club) have discovered that we hardly post any questions in the threads any more because we discuss them all in the read aloud session… And while I definitely prefer having a quick chat over writing a lenghty post, it kinda dries out the reading threads, which is a pity for those who are not in the live discussion. So, I would actually lean towards not having a discord channel in order to force me to have more discussions in the forums.


For reach, it might be interesting to announce this book club in the Extensive Reading thread and to ping some of the participants from the previous Advanced Book Club discussion thread?

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OK, let’s get cracking :slightly_smiling_face:

雪国 - Snow Country

by 川端 康成 (かわばたやすなり)

Summary

Japanese

雪国 』(ゆきぐに)は、川端康成の長編小説で、名作として国内外で名高い。雪国を訪れた男が、温泉町でひたむきに生きる女たちの諸相、ゆらめき、定めない命の各瞬間の純粋を見つめる物語。愛し生きる女の情熱の美しく哀しい徒労が、男の虚無に研ぎ澄まされた鏡のような心理の抒情に映されながら、美的に抽出されて描かれている。

English

Snow Country is a stark tale of a love affair between a Tokyo dilettante and a provincial geisha that takes place in the remote onsen town of Yuzawa.

Trivia:
“Snow country” is a literal translation of the Japanese title " Yukiguni ". The name comes from the place where the story takes place, where Shimamura arrives in a train coming through a long tunnel under the border mountains between the Gunma (Kozuke no kuni) and Niigata (Echigo no kuni) Prefectures. Sitting at the foot of mountains, on the north side, this region receives a huge amount of snow in winter because of the northern winds coming across the Sea of Japan. The winds accumulate moisture over the sea and deposit it as snow while running up against the mountains. The snow reaches four to five meters in depth, sometimes isolating the region’s towns and villages from others. The lonely atmosphere suggested by the title is infused throughout the book.

Availability

Amazon
Bookwalker

Personal Opinion

This book is a classic of Japanese literature. The author was the first Japanese person to receive the Noble prize for literature, and this book (together with two others) was mentioned by the committee.

Whenever I mentioned this book, (Japanese) people kept telling me that it is hard, so we might want to pick a slower pace. I don’t really know the exact reason for this, though, as the Japanese does not seem to be especially hard or old (where I looked at it).
Wikipedia might give a hint as why it has this reputation:
" Edward Seidensticker, noted scholar of Japanese literature whose English translation of the novel was published in 1956, described the work as “perhaps Kawabata’s masterpiece.” According to him, the novel reminds of haiku, both for its many delicate contrapuntal touches and its use of brief scenes to tell a larger story."
So probably it is more the contents that makes it hard to understand than the language.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • Japanese classic
  • Not too long (224 pages) so we can take our time with it
  • Author received Noble price

Cons

  • Probably not much action
  • Probably very philosophical and therefore hard to digest

Pictures

Note: page numbers are from an ebook and do not correspond to the real pages.

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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checks text

御機嫌よろしゅうございます

:thinking:

I mean, I’m not against it though. 苦しゅうない!

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Heeey! I said

right after what you quoted :joy_cat:

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I already have this book, so I would be a vote for it. I’ve been wanting to read something more literary, it seemed interesting, and I had to add some books to an order to make shipping worth it. :wink:

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Coming in swinging, @NicoleRauch. I would love to.

Also, @Naphthalene proposed waiting until there are at least 5 nominations, then we can set a firm deadline––probably a week later––for any other nominations to come in and for votes to be cast. That seems like a good idea unless anyone objects.

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I’m planning to propose a book per day until somebody tells me to stop :laughing:

But I do hope that some others step up as well and propose something!

By the way, would it be a showstopper for a nomination if there were no ebook? In the other bookclubs we have no fixed rule for this, but I cannot recall that we actually had a nomination without ebook.
I’m asking because my bookshelf (and my list of recommendations) contains a bunch of books that are only available in printed form, so I’m wondering whether I should rather not nominate those?

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Great idea. I’ll go make an announcement post. When you say ping… I @ them in this thread?

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Yep, that’s what I was thinking.

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Because this book club will have dual harder+slower / easier+faster books to vote on, the book selection poll should probably indicate if it’ll follow the slower or faster pace.

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*licks lips* Two categories: slow and hard, or quick and easy. Say no more.

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I’m probably not going to nominate anything, but could I just ask what makes a book ‘advanced’? Perhaps I’m not advanced enough to be asking, but I feel like even books like Re:Zero (I’m bringing it up since it’s on the forums) might give some advanced learners trouble, and there are definitely light novels that are even harder than that. However, I take it that Re:Zero and other light novels are considered intermediate? Honestly, my current impression is that, classical/old Japanese aside, light novels are pretty close to being as hard as it gets in terms of kanji and grammar. Most of them are harder than NHK news articles. So uh, pardon my ignorance, but what sorts of books would these be?

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The Master List of Book Clubs labels the Re:Zero and DanMachi book clubs as “advanced”.
But it’s not only the difficulty of the material as such, but also the reading pace which determines the difficulty. So for “not technically hard” books we will set up a schedule that goes much faster than the standard 15 pages per week that’s often applied for Intermediate book club books.

The nice side-effect of this faster pace is that we can read much thicker books; the Intermediate book club limits its proposals to something around 300 pages to avoid endlessly chewing on the same book.

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You are so powerful. Do it! I’ll nominate a couple too after the initial 5 are in.

Not a show stopper. We might want to give extra time before we start reading it, in case anybody wants to make a long-distance order. I, for one, do not live in Japan anymore. I do live in Seattle, and we have a Kinokuniya, but its selection is limited. Would be curious to hear where everyone is coming from. Might make a pole.

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You already have the nomination in the other book club (which is how this all started by the way, so thanks a lot!) - I hope you will transfer it to this one instead?

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Might as well, hadn’t I.

容疑者Xの献身

The Devotion of Suspect X

Summary

Japanese

運命の数式。命がけの純愛が生んだ犯罪。 東野圭吾作品読者人気ランキング第1位。累計220万部突破、直木賞受賞の大ベストセラー。 天才数学者でありながら不遇な日々を送っていた高校教師の石神は、一人娘の美里と暮らす隣人の花岡靖子に秘かな想いを寄せていた。 ある日、靖子の前夫・富樫が母娘の居場所を突き止めて訪ねてきた。金を無心し、暴力をふるう富樫を、靖子と美里は殺してしまう。 呆然とする二人を救うために、石神は完全犯罪を企てる。 だが皮肉にも、石神と帝都大学の同期であり、親友である物理学者の湯川学がその謎に挑むことになる。 ガリレオシリーズ初の長編。第134回直木賞受賞作。第6回本格ミステリ大賞受賞。2005年度の国内の主要ミステリランキング「本格ミステリ・ベスト10」「このミステリーがすごい! 」「週刊文春ミステリベスト10」すべてにおいて1位獲得、エドガー賞(MWA主催)候補作にもなった。

English

Yasuko lives a quiet life, working in a Tokyo bento shop, a good mother to her only child. But when her ex-husband appears at her door without warning one day, her comfortable world is shattered.

When Detective Kusanagi of the Tokyo Police tries to piece together the events of that day, he finds himself confronted by the most puzzling, mysterious circumstances he has ever investigated. Nothing quite makes sense, and it will take a genius to understand the genius behind this particular crime…

One of the biggest-selling Japanese thrillers ever, and the inspiration for a cult film, The Devotion of Suspect X is now being discovered across the world. Its blend of a page-turning story, evocative Tokyo setting and utterly surprising ending make it a must-read for anyone interested in international fiction.

Availability

Amazon link here.
eBook available.

Personal Opinion

This guy is one of the titans of Japanese mystery/crime fiction, and this is probably his best known book. Still, it’s not gruesome crime. This is from a review on Amazon.jp for the current selection, 「夜市」, and I think it applies well here too: ホラー系が苦手な方でも安心して読める作品です。

Come for the noir streets of Tokyo, the thrill of the chase, and a penetrating look, I think, into the Japanese psychology.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • A mature read
  • No super specialized vocabulary
  • English language version exists
  • Internationally popular
  • It has a movie
  • Realistic fiction

Cons

  • A bit on the longer side of the page limit
  • Realistic fiction

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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