Intermediate Japanese Book Club // Now Reading: TUGUMI

No.

No no no.

Absolutely not.

3 Likes

I think it’s only a metaphor? :slight_smile:
Not sure how claustrophobic it gets to be honest, possibly a lot.
According to this New York Times review of the English translation of the book, holes are very popular in Japanese literature as a whole (sorry for the pun):

She is part of a literary lineage, soon to find herself trapped with Abe’s character in the dunes, with Kenzaburo Oe’s in a pit, or with Haruki Murakami’s at the bottom of a well. There is also a dried-up well in Oyamada’s brief tale, a follow-up to her similarly enigmatic debut, “The Factory” but it’s only one of the many holes in this surreal and mesmerizing book.

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I feel you possibly didn’t spot the connection I was trying to make. Have you, perchance, ever read The Enigma of Amigara Fault by Junji Ito? :slightly_smiling_face:

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I hadn’t, but I just looked it up :flushed:

holes really are prevalent, aren’t they

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Just looked at it and it’s scary

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The beginner book club is currently voting on what to read next.

If you are interested head over and participate in the vote :writing_hand:

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人質の朗読会

Summary

Japanese

南米のある村で、日本人7人と添乗員が乗ったマイクロバスが、遺跡観光を終えて首都に向かう帰路、反政府ゲリラに襲撃され、身代金と仲間の釈放を求める犯行声明が発表された。拉致現場は標高2000メートル級の山々が連なる山岳地帯、目新しい情報がないまま日本国内でのニュースの扱いは次第に小さくなっていき、遠く離れた地で起きているらしい事件に人々の関心は薄れていった。

ゲリラと政府の交渉は水面下で続き、発生から100日が過ぎたある日、軍と警察の特殊部隊がアジトに強行突入し、銃撃戦が繰り広げられた末に犯人グループ5人が全員死亡、特殊部隊員2人が殉職、犯人が仕掛けていたダイナマイトにより人質となっていた8人全員が死亡した。この凄惨な結末は、ニュースを忘れかけ、どこか楽観視していた世間の人々に大きなショックを与えた。

事件から2年後、国際赤十字が差し入れた救急箱などに仕掛けられていた盗聴器で、人質たちの音声が録音されたテープの存在が明らかになる。テープには人質8人がそれぞれ心に残っている出来事を物語として書き起こし、各人が朗読する声が収められていた。事件後、遺族を取材していたラジオ局の記者はテープが被害者が確かに生きていた証になると重要性を説き、かくして遺族の許可を得てラジオ番組『人質の朗読会』が放送されることとなった。

(Source: Wikipedia)

English

人質の朗読会 (‘the recitals of the hostages’) is another work by Ogawa, like Revenge, that is only very loosely a novel and is composed of a series of essentially distinct stories – nine of them. The set-up, or framing device, is quite striking – bizarre even - and naturally colors the reading of the pieces themselves: a short prefatory section explains that a minibus with seven tourists, their guide, and the driver, travelling somewhere on the other side of the globe, was attacked by a group of local anti-government guerillas while on its way to visit some local ruins. The tourists and their guide were taken hostage; negotiations went nowhere, and after more than three months the government launched an attack against the rebels; the hostages were all killed in the rescue attempt. Two years later recordings from their time in captivity were made public, recording of each of the eight hostages recounting a story or memory they had written – a task they had been able to focus on in their otherwise so difficult situation.
The rest of the book then consists of these eight recitals by the hostages, one for each evening. […]

(Source: Complete-Review)

Availability

Amazon
BookWalker

Personal Opinion

I thought it’s about time to read another book by Ogawa Youko.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • Many book club participants liked 博士の愛した数式 by the same author
  • Not too long at 247 pages
  • Not just a random selection of short stories

Cons

  • The chapters might be pretty unrelated, though?
  • The overarching topic of hostages and guerilla might not be for everybody?

Pictures

First Three Pages of Chapter One

Additional Pages

First page of first story:

First page of second story:

First page of third story:

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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What’s a good wk level to join intermediate book club?

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To be honest, reading is much more about knowing grammar and vocab than about knowing kanji. Depending on the book (or the edition of the book you choose), you might even have full furigana, and then you technically don’t need to know any kanji at all. :woman_shrugging:
(Or if you read a digital book, you can usually look up the kanji without too much trouble.)

For grammar, this is also a mixed bag as we are reading native material which may use grammar from all levels, but usually if you know the N5-N4 grammar and have dived into N3 grammar for a bit, then you should be able to follow along (with a fair bit of grammar research and the like). If you have N3 under your belt, you should be pretty well-rounded for reading most of the picks here.

Vocab is much trickier as it very much depends on what words you already know. Also, each book tends to have a bunch of vocab words that are specific to that genre. In other words, the more you read, the easier it gets! But of course you gotta start somewhere, so it’s very common to need to look up a lot of words initially. If you learn the words as you read, the book will become easier over time as authors of course tend to use the same words in multiple places.

Having said all that, I think it would be best if you could have a look at the sample pages that you can find in each of the book nominations and judge for yourself how well you get along with them.
If you want to try out digital reading, you can always look at the Bookwalker links in each nomination as you can usually read a few pages of each book on their website.

Happy reading, and looking forward to seeing you in one of the reading clubs!

14 Likes

佐賀のがばいばあちゃん (Saga no Gabai Baachan)

Author: 島田洋七

Summary

Japanese

昭和三十三年、広島から佐賀の田舎に預けられた八歳の昭広。そこでは厳しい戦後を七人の子供を抱えて生き抜いたがばい(すごい)祖母との貧乏生活が待っていた。しかし家にはいつも笑いが溢れ…。黒柳徹子、ビートたけしも感動した超話題作。
(Source: Bookwalker)

English

In 1958, the 8-year-old Akihiro moves from Hiroshima to the Saga prefecture countryside. A poor life with his grandma and other family members awaits him. But there is always laughter…

Availability

Amazon
Bookwalker

Personal Opinion

In 2019, @KazeTachinu read this book and reviewed:

That’s enough for me :slight_smile:

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • Pretty short at 237 pages (in paperback) but Bookwalker reports only 174 pages, so I guess there is a little bit less text per page compared to normal books.
  • Sounds like an interesting slice-of-life story that shows us a bit of Japan in former times, and in the countryside

Cons

  • The story is set in Saga (Kyuushuu) and so there is a chance of Grandma and others having a thick dialect. - Maybe @KazeTachinu can shed some light on this?

Pictures

First Three Pages of Chapter One

Additional Pages

Start of chapter 2:

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

9 Likes

This is maybe my favorite Japanese book and I really want you all to read it! It’s really short, too – maybe half the length of the books we usually read here (~60,000 characters).

There’s a bit of dialect here, but it’s not too hard to figure out. Maybe takes a few pages to get used to it, but I think Shimada deliberately wrote it in a way that it’s not too hard to parse. I personally found it a lot easier than the old guy from ヨコハマ買い出し紀行, for example.

9 Likes

Thanks for the clarification! Now all we can do is entrust this matter to the next poll :wink:


Speaking of which, I will start the next poll some time this week (Wednesday, I guess) so if y’all could have a look at the nominations and rate them if you haven’t done so already, that would be amazing!

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You make it sound like its a funny story. But except for one part in the first 3 pages (the one where he probes into his “creation”) I found the (edit: start of the) story rather tragic than funny…

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Ah, I have no idea actually! I just tried to translate the Japanese summary. Sorry if that’s misleading in any case. What would be a good summary from your point of view? (a spoiler-free one, of course)

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Nah you made no mistake. Its just that the start is pretty bleak. But that is to be expected if we talk hiroshima shusshin in the 1950s i suppose.

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It’s Poll Time!!!

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 book club members voting, thus subjective) out of 5, where 1 means “no effort at all” and 5 means “impossible, even with everyone’s help”. 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 nomination posts if you haven’t already.

Expected reading pace: We aim to read 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.

Short book rule: If the first place ist taken by a book that will take us 6 weeks or less to read, we will read the book in second place directly after it, without running a poll in between. I haven’t checked in detail, but I’d assume that this basically applies in case one of the manga wins the poll.

Start of Book Club: We will start the next book on April 2nd (after a one-week break).

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

  • ifの悲劇 [2.62]
  • きらきらひかる [2.67]
  • 日本人の知らない日本語 (Manga) [2.4]
  • 山と食欲と私 (Manga) [2.5]
  • くま クマ 熊 ベアー [2.36]
  • 天気の子 [2.64]
  • ガイコツ書店員本田さん (Manga) [2.45]
  • リング [2.67]
  • City (Manga) [2.56]
  • TUGUMI [2]
  • Just Because! [2.17]
  • 笑顔のたえない職場です。(Manga) [2.83]
  • 穴 [2]
  • 人質の朗読会 [2.43]
  • 佐賀のがばいばあちゃん [2.5]

0 voters

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Struggling to limit my choices to 5 this time around, which is great because it means there’s so much I’d be excited to read! Anybody have any strong opinions or recommendations?

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There’s a 50% off deal on some Kindle books. It ends tomorrow, unfortunately. But it seems the current #1 pick is discounted (only 275 yen!). リング is also discounted (295 yen).

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Amazon lists this as ‘book 2 of 8’. Do you or @KazeTachinu happen to know what’s the deal with book 1?

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Amazon might be wrong? It appears to be the first in the series on Bookwalker, although there are no numbers as such.

1 Like