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Hello Kitty, earthquakes, manga, samurai, robots and sushi. These are some of the things we think about when we think about Japan. This small island nation looms large in the popular imagination, in often contradictory ways: as the epitome of refinement and tradition, and as an embodiment of a shiny, soulless future. What is Japan to those who really know it? This issue in Hello Kitty, earthquakes, manga, samurai, robots and sushi. These are some of the things we think about when we think about Japan. This small island nation looms large in the popular imagination, in often contradictory ways: as the epitome of refinement and tradition, and as an embodiment of a shiny, soulless future. What is Japan to those who really know it? This issue includes translated work from the most exciting Japanese writers today, alongside work in English. There will be contributions from the Man Asia-shortlisted Hiromi Kawakami, the Booker-shortlisted Ruth Ozeki, David Mitchell, David Peace, Richard Lloyd Parry and more.


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Hello Kitty, earthquakes, manga, samurai, robots and sushi. These are some of the things we think about when we think about Japan. This small island nation looms large in the popular imagination, in often contradictory ways: as the epitome of refinement and tradition, and as an embodiment of a shiny, soulless future. What is Japan to those who really know it? This issue in Hello Kitty, earthquakes, manga, samurai, robots and sushi. These are some of the things we think about when we think about Japan. This small island nation looms large in the popular imagination, in often contradictory ways: as the epitome of refinement and tradition, and as an embodiment of a shiny, soulless future. What is Japan to those who really know it? This issue includes translated work from the most exciting Japanese writers today, alongside work in English. There will be contributions from the Man Asia-shortlisted Hiromi Kawakami, the Booker-shortlisted Ruth Ozeki, David Mitchell, David Peace, Richard Lloyd Parry and more.

30 review for Granta 127: Japan

  1. 5 out of 5

    Smiley

    3.75 stars This is my first encounter with Granta (2014) Issue 127, a 280-page book-like magazine, because it is a collection of 20 'new writing' stories by Japanese and Non-Japanese writers having focused on something Japanese. Some color and black-and-white illustrations are also included to support some stories. There are 11 stories written in Japanese, 1 in Spanish and 8 in English; therefore, the 12 stories needed 10 translators: 9 (Japanese) [Ivan Vartanian himself has translated 3 stories] 3.75 stars This is my first encounter with Granta (2014) Issue 127, a 280-page book-like magazine, because it is a collection of 20 'new writing' stories by Japanese and Non-Japanese writers having focused on something Japanese. Some color and black-and-white illustrations are also included to support some stories. There are 11 stories written in Japanese, 1 in Spanish and 8 in English; therefore, the 12 stories needed 10 translators: 9 (Japanese) [Ivan Vartanian himself has translated 3 stories] and 1 (Spanish). Arguably readable, all stories finely translated might have meant to portray contemporary Japan in terms of her culture, local wisdom, modernism, etc. as viewed by Japanese writers as well as other nationalities, for example: Tao Lin (American novelist), Pico Iyer (British-born essayist and novelist of Indian origin), David Peace (English writer), etc. (information from Wikipedia). In other words, these stories collected in a seemingly convenient paperback has smartly been designed as a sort of literary potpourri for any keen reader in the late 2010s to opt for any title he/she prefers to browse so the collection is of essential benefits to those enthusiasts who don't know Japanese or Spanish and reading its originals is out of the question. Reading an 18.5-page story entitled "Spider Lilies" (translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter) by Hiroko Oyamada was a surprising revelation to me since the writer has guided her readers into rural Japan quite remote (town, city or island not mentioned) as told in the story: . . . I took the train with my parents so the two sides could exchange formal greetings in advance of the wedding. We travelled over three hours by bullet train, then went a few stations more on the local line, then took a taxi. My husband-to-be had gone ahead the day before." (p. 118) The narrator named Yuki describes a trip to visit her husband-to-be's parents including an eighty six-year-old knowledgeable grandmother who tells her that some growing spider lilies (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hymenoc...) called 'shibitobana' in Japanese, especially the root, could be used as a medicinal plant. Reading the story and the dialogs would give you a feel for subtle relationships from two Japanese families soon united into one, that is, a typical scenario supported by family members involved, local wisdom, Japaneseness, etc. in which the narrator (wife-to-be) writes to reflect, for instance, the interaction between Grandma and Yuki herself, the two women who obviously belong to their different generations apart but lovingly share their intimacy, for instance: I smiled vaguely and looked away. 'So even though the root has healing power, it's poisonous, too,' I said, repeating the lesson. 'Oh, yes. But then that's true of all medicines. They're all poison, even the pills I take every day.' She pointed to a bag of medicines, overflowing, on the little table. 'If you take those, young and healthy as you are, they'd poison you for sure.' 'Did Hiroyuki's mother also use the spider lilies?' I asked. 'Yoko?' After a little pause, she smiled thinly. 'She used to be skin and bones, so delicate you'd have thought she's break in two if she fell over. Hips like so.' ... She smiled, leaning forward and bringing her face toward mine in a way that caused me to lean in toward her as well. I could smell the sweet scent of her face powder. Her eyebrows were filled in with grey eyebrow pencil, and she was wearing a touch of lipstick. 'You know,' She said, chuckling, 'there's something else that's both medicine and poison. It's mother's milk itself!' 'Really?' ... (pp. 123-4) In short, since it is a seemingly Sisypus-like toil to write on every story in this collection, it is best to leave such enticingly reading to those almost or in love with something Japanese including these pioneering literary works. I don't enjoy reading all of them but it is sheer wonder to appreciate various kinds of 'new writing' written in the original and other foreign languages then translated into English for the world to see and read to share their uniqueness for the sake of modernity, brilliance and globalism.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Patrick McCoy

    I went to the book launch party in Tokyo in March and was able to buy an advanced copy of Granta 127: Japan (2014) edited by Yuka Igarashi, which will be released in April of 2014. I started out reading essays by the authors I already knew best, then went back to the start and read the the rest of the entries in order. So I started with David Mitchell's short story, "Variations on a Theme by Mister Donut." I have to admit I was disappointed by his contribution, it was the story of an incident in I went to the book launch party in Tokyo in March and was able to buy an advanced copy of Granta 127: Japan (2014) edited by Yuka Igarashi, which will be released in April of 2014. I started out reading essays by the authors I already knew best, then went back to the start and read the the rest of the entries in order. So I started with David Mitchell's short story, "Variations on a Theme by Mister Donut." I have to admit I was disappointed by his contribution, it was the story of an incident in a coffee shop told from several different points of view most of which were terribly cliched and not very convincing (a demented old man escaped from an old folks home, a downsized salaryman, a parasite single, a 3.11 refugee, a foreigner, etc.). Mitchell hasn't lived in Japan for years, and it shows. Next I read David Peace's heavily researched short story, "After the War, Before the War," about Japanese writer Ryunosuke Akutagawa's visit to Shanghai in 1921. I felt he did a good job of recreating the event in fiction. I liked how he also provided a list of sources much like he did for the first two volumes of his Tokyo trilogy mystery series. Next, I read Pico Iyer's essay, "The Beauty of the Package," which was interesting since he wrote about his family and wife-whom he first wrote about in his uneven book, The Lady and the Monk. I can not say that I fully agree with his praise of the uniformly packaged weddings and events in Japanese society. I can, perhaps, get behind the excessive attention to detail given to packaging goods more so. The rest of the entries were new to me, and there were some very pleasant surprises among them. However, Sayaka Murata's short story "A Clean Marriage" was not one of them. A couple decided to marry and live sexless as a couple, but are allowed to satisfy their sexual needs outside the marriage. Then they decided to try and have a baby through artificial insemination. The content of the story was distasteful to me and indicative of several things I do not like about contemporary Japanese society-the lack of connectivity between people that, perhaps, has a cultural base in enryo-a sort of formality or restraint, that is present in even in close personal relationships. I was fascinated by Ruth Ozeki's essay, Linked" on the story behind her renka poem for her grandfather who lived a very interesting life: he was adopted by a family with no sons, then was disowned, then became an indentured servant in Hawaii, then became a successful photographer before being interned during WWII and losing his business before he decided to move back to Japan to live out his days. Kyoko Nakajima's "Things Remembered and Things Forgotten" was one of the real standouts and gems from this series. It is the story of a man's postwar remembrances that reveal certain uncouth truths like the establishment of brothels for American GIs by the Japanese government in order to keep women from being raped as a safeguard to keep the race pure. During the Q&A at the book release party I remember her saying that a lot of the problems of people today regarding Japan's past stem from their ignorance about what really happened during and after the war. The story has a heart wrenching twist at the end that I didn't see coming. Tao Lin's essay, "Final Fantasy III," is an irreverent look at Japan from a Taiwanese-American. He sort of sidesteps the assignment, by writing about his parents and their impressions of Japan. But his impressions do beg the question of why Taiwan has no qualms about the former the colonization? I cannot say that Yuji Hamada's photographs of aluminum mountains made much of an impression on me. However, I was intrigued by Hiromi Kawakami's essay about being diagnosed with a cancerous growth, "Blue Moon." Lucky to say this essay has a happy ending, but it does offer some interesting discourse on dealing with such a scenario. I also enjoyed Kimiko Han's Tale of Genji-inspired poem, "The Japanese Firefly Squid." There was yet another intriguing short story about home remedies and perceptions of reality, this one from Hiroko Oyamada, "Spider Lilies." Yumiko Utsu's photographs, "Out of Ark," also made very little of an impression on me as well. Andre Felipe Solano's "Pig Skin" was also an entertaining short hard-boiled story. I wasn't that interested in Toh EnJoe's story "Printable" that was philosophic prattle about time and authors of texts. Nor was I interested in Daisuke Yokota's black and white photos without clear images, "From Site." However, Adam Jonson's essay, "Scavengers," on the life of former Korean and Japanese wrestling star Rikidozan was fascinating. Yukiko Motoya's story, "The Dogs," about alienation and dogs didn't capture my interest much. There were some interesting bits in Rebcca Solnit's essay "Arrival Gates," but the use of the Fushimi Inari gates as a metaphor didn't work for me. The last story by Tomoyuki Hoshino, "Pink," was a SF story that overreached with too many elements such as cults, excessive weather, a new world order, and future war.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Liviu

    starts extraordinarily strong with three awesome stories: A Clean marriage by S. Murata (husband and wife marry but do not have sex with each other, only outside the marriage - so the title - but what happens when they want a child together?), Breakfast by T. Okada (a man waits for a visit from his wife who left him because she didn't want to live in Tokyo anymore) and Variations on a Theme by Mister Donut by D. Mitchell (excellent sample of David Mitchell's polyphonic voice and one of the best starts extraordinarily strong with three awesome stories: A Clean marriage by S. Murata (husband and wife marry but do not have sex with each other, only outside the marriage - so the title - but what happens when they want a child together?), Breakfast by T. Okada (a man waits for a visit from his wife who left him because she didn't want to live in Tokyo anymore) and Variations on a Theme by Mister Donut by D. Mitchell (excellent sample of David Mitchell's polyphonic voice and one of the best short stories I've ever read) followed by good to very good pieces from many others including R. Ozeki, H. Kawakami (both non-fiction i think), Toh EnJoe, while there is a series of Mt. Fuji photographs that is also very good, as well as other photos and drawings adding color to the issue; one of the best Granta issues and highly recomended

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    A very troubling mix of styles and stories, reinforcing for me the "otherness" of Japan and Japanese culture. The sexless marriage, the curative value of breast milk, mountains made of crumpled tin foil (ESPECIALLY the mountains) have stayed with me long after finishing the book. I read Granta because I want to try new authors and new styles, so I don't expect to always like everything. This collection gave me plenty to think about and I recommend it. A very troubling mix of styles and stories, reinforcing for me the "otherness" of Japan and Japanese culture. The sexless marriage, the curative value of breast milk, mountains made of crumpled tin foil (ESPECIALLY the mountains) have stayed with me long after finishing the book. I read Granta because I want to try new authors and new styles, so I don't expect to always like everything. This collection gave me plenty to think about and I recommend it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nadia King

    Some excellent reading in this collection of stories from Japan. Curious insight into Japanese culture. Like any anthology, there were stories included that less than delighted me. On the whole, glad I spent my weekend soaking this collection up.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Harrison

    this volume was great. new translations of japanese authors who have either barely or not at all been translated into english, whose names are not haruki murakami. shows the range of contemporary japanese fiction. my personal favorite is "breakfast" by toshiki okada. this volume was great. new translations of japanese authors who have either barely or not at all been translated into english, whose names are not haruki murakami. shows the range of contemporary japanese fiction. my personal favorite is "breakfast" by toshiki okada.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Chaikin

    This was a nice little taste of modern Japanese literature, even if my favorite story was by Chinese-America author Tao Lin, where asks his Chinese parents about Japanese people. There is a lot of good stuff here, much of it apparently non-fiction personal essays. Brief notes on each story or essay. My favorites have an asterisk. Sayaka Murata - A Clean Marriage, translated from Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori - short story Definitely odd. A couple in a sexless marriage decide to get pregnant, to This was a nice little taste of modern Japanese literature, even if my favorite story was by Chinese-America author Tao Lin, where asks his Chinese parents about Japanese people. There is a lot of good stuff here, much of it apparently non-fiction personal essays. Brief notes on each story or essay. My favorites have an asterisk. Sayaka Murata - A Clean Marriage, translated from Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori - short story Definitely odd. A couple in a sexless marriage decide to get pregnant, told by the wife. Toshiki Okada - Breakfast, translated from Japanese by Michael Emmerich - short story Odd applies again. This is about the break-up of a marriage. The narrator’s wife flies in to Tokyo for less than a day only to meet with her husband to end the relationship. David Mitchell - Variations on a Theme by Mister Donut – short story A simple story in a donut shop told from several different points of view. Mildly entertaining. *Ruth Ozeki – Linked – Personal essay Ozeki writes about her grandfather, who was born in Japan, emigrated to Hawaii, and then, after four years of incarceration during WWII, having lost everything, returned to Japan. Her grandfather was a serious poet who wrote haikus. After her essay, she includes several of his haikus along with her own responses, which I found it well done. *Kyoko Nakajima - Things Remembered and Things Forgotten, translated by Ian M. Macdonald - short story Probably my favorite short story. It’s a bit odd in style, but it’s a simple story. An older man goes with his wife to meet his senile older brother in his nursing home. Then nostalgia brings him back to the dark days after WWII, where memory doesn’t exactly match reality. *Tao Lin - Final Fantasy III – Personal Essay(?) The American-Chinese author asks his parents about what they like about Japan. Hiromi Kawakami - Blue Moon, translated from Japanese by Lucy North - personal essay(?) A haiku poet’s experiences after being diagnosed with possible terminal cancer *Hiroko Oyamada - Spider Lilies, translated from Japanese by Juliet Winters Carpenter - short story Good stuff. The narrator meets her fiance's very strange grandmother who tells her some very strange stuff about spider lilies and breast milk. It's almost believable. Pico Iyer - The Beauty of the Package - personal essay Iyer explores Japanese culture through the actions in a Japanese wedding he attends. He is interested in the relationship between acting out the expression of a feeling and the actually feeling. *Andrés Felipe Solano - Pig Skin, translated from Spanish by Nick Caistor - short story Odd and entertaining - but odd in what i would consider a non-Japanese way. A Columbian on a ferry between Korea and Japan befriends a Korean who asks for some unusual favors. Toh EnJoe – Printable, translated from Japanese by David G. Boyd - short story Philosophical essay of sorts that begins with the narrator translating a long, unwritten work *David Peace - After the War, Before the War: Ryūnosuke Akutagawa on The Bridge of Nine Turnings, in Shanghai, in 1921 - fictional biography Ryūnosuke Akutagawa was a real Japanese author and this is Peace’s fictional account of him from an incomplete novel. I found it fascinating to see a reflective Japanese point of view of Shanghai before the fighting started. Adam Johnson, Scavengers - personal essay About his experiences in North Korea and his curiosity in the story of a famous North Korean wrestler who was raised in and performed in Japan. *Yukiko Motoya - The Dogs - short story Wintering in self-chosen isolation, a woman gets attached to a pack of wild dogs, while only vaguely aware of the problems they are causing. Rebecca Solnit - Arrival Gates - personal essay After going to several disaster sights in Japan in some kind of work capacity, the author walks the orange gates of Fushimi Inari Taisha, a shrine in Kyoto. *Tomoyuki Hoshino – Pink - short story A young woman babysitting her niece during a heat wave gets caught up in communal spinning – as in spinning her body in circles. Enjoyed this, but the meaning is quite mysterious to me.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    Although reading several rather harsh reviews of the latest Granta issue which criticised many of the stories for being unrelated and on unnecessary tangents about 'Japan', I found that this solid issue contained a good mix of topics. Many stories were originally written in Japanese and translated into English, while others are written by foreigners familiar with Japan, resulting in both interesting insider and outsider perspectives. One of the most profound insights was by Pico Iyer in 'The Beau Although reading several rather harsh reviews of the latest Granta issue which criticised many of the stories for being unrelated and on unnecessary tangents about 'Japan', I found that this solid issue contained a good mix of topics. Many stories were originally written in Japanese and translated into English, while others are written by foreigners familiar with Japan, resulting in both interesting insider and outsider perspectives. One of the most profound insights was by Pico Iyer in 'The Beauty of the Package' where he observes and comments upon the perfected routines and rituals of the Japanese, often criticised for being superficial and heartless. But he asks: 'Does the fact we all say 'I love you' make it mean less every time?' Personal favourites: 'A Clean Marriage' (Sayaka Murata), 'Things Remembered and Things Forgotten' (Kyoko Nakajima), 'Spider Lilies' (Hiroko Oyamada), 'The Beauty of the Package' (Pico Iyer), 'Pink' (Tomoyuki Hoshino)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Liked David Mitchell's piece and the numerous perspectives on a single event. Toh Enjoe's "Printable" was an engaging contemplation of reproduction and simulacrum. I liked David Peace's work because it introduced me to the writer Ryunosuke and the legend of the Peach Boy. I haven't studied much Japanese literature or culture, so the entire Granta was engaging on some level. Scavengers by Adam Johnson was a great piece using a single individual's story to reveal a profound truth about an entire o Liked David Mitchell's piece and the numerous perspectives on a single event. Toh Enjoe's "Printable" was an engaging contemplation of reproduction and simulacrum. I liked David Peace's work because it introduced me to the writer Ryunosuke and the legend of the Peach Boy. I haven't studied much Japanese literature or culture, so the entire Granta was engaging on some level. Scavengers by Adam Johnson was a great piece using a single individual's story to reveal a profound truth about an entire official culture. Yukiko Motoya' "The Dogs" had a genuine authenticity of voice--The narrator describes himself as a recluse and speaks in precious, just-slightly-fantastical explanations of one who has spent too much time alone. The photography essays were interesting, particularly "Primal Mountain" by Yugi Hamada.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Natalie (CuriousReader)

    A few duds but overall an excellent selection, by editor Yuka Igarashi, of weird and wonderful stories, poetry, and essays! Some personal favourites include The Dogs by Yukiko Motoya, Pink by Tomoyuki Hoshino, and Blue Moon by Hiromi Kawakami (but really, most of the pieces in here are wonderful!). Full review: https://weneedhunny.wordpress.com/201... A few duds but overall an excellent selection, by editor Yuka Igarashi, of weird and wonderful stories, poetry, and essays! Some personal favourites include The Dogs by Yukiko Motoya, Pink by Tomoyuki Hoshino, and Blue Moon by Hiromi Kawakami (but really, most of the pieces in here are wonderful!). Full review: https://weneedhunny.wordpress.com/201...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Meg

    An interesting collection of short fiction and essays related, however loosely, to Japan.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nabilah Jamal

    There are some that I find very interesting, but some are otherwise. I can’t bring myself giving 3 stars, hence the 4 stars.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Paul Fulcher

    "It's not just that surface and depth are different here; but that you can't begin to infer one from the other." (Pico Iyer, The Beauty of the Package). Granta 127, from Spring 2014, is the first volume I've read and I have mixed feelings about the format. On the positive side, the Granta brandname is sufficiently powerful to line up an impressive array of authors - perhaps only The New Yorker has a better reach. From English-language writers, David Mitchell, Ruth Ozeki, David Peace and perhaps Ka "It's not just that surface and depth are different here; but that you can't begin to infer one from the other." (Pico Iyer, The Beauty of the Package). Granta 127, from Spring 2014, is the first volume I've read and I have mixed feelings about the format. On the positive side, the Granta brandname is sufficiently powerful to line up an impressive array of authors - perhaps only The New Yorker has a better reach. From English-language writers, David Mitchell, Ruth Ozeki, David Peace and perhaps Kazuo Ishiguro would be the first four names I'd think of for a Japan edition, and to Granta's credit they've solicited contributions from the first three of these. And while the Japanese authors featured exclude the really big names (e.g. Ryu or Haruki Murakami, Oe), everyone included seems to have won one or the other of the prestiguous Akutagawa or Kenzaburo Oe prizes - I counted 3 of each - and anyway part of the attraction of Granta is to be introduced to new authors. And commendably this issue of Granta was published simultaneously in Japanese and English. On the negative side, I'm no fan of short-story collections at the best of times, and even less so when written by a variety of authors with only the tenuous link of Japan as a theme, meaning the pieces fail to cohere. Also I didn't really feel I gained any great insights into Japanese culture, beyond the obvious cliches, or into Japanese literature. And as other reviewers have commented with some of the pieces feel dialled-in; one can almost imagine the conversation ("have you got anything on your pending/rejected spike that relates to Japan we could use?". And if no, "Anything you could somehow adapt to Japan?"). Adam Johnson (The Orphan Master's Son) is better known for writing about North Korea, so gives us a story about a Japanese man in that country. In Final Fantasy III by Tao Lin, the author makes a virtue of it's flaws - he writes about how he (or the narrator, who strongly resembles him, if this is viewed as fiction) has to write an piece on Japan, and collects random thoughts from his Taiwanese parents ("it was a good sign in Japan if your husband stayed out every night as that was a sign your business was doing well") which reveal more about their prejudices than about Japan. David Mitchell's Variations on a Theme by Mister Donut, which tells the story of a simple incident (old man suffering from dementia doesn't realise donut shop is self service) from perspectives of multiple characters. It's quite amusing and well structured, but the cast manages to cover almost almost ever cliche about Japanese people and indeed foreigners in Japan. On the stronger side, Ruth Ozeki has submitted a moving if brief tribute to her maternal grandfather. "I'm not a poet in English, never mind in Japanese, and the spare, concise haiku form continues to confound me. But I had an idea of translating some of his poems (loosely) and responding to them (roughly), in order to make a kind of renga, a linked verse, across time." And an amusing anecdote about how a "well-intentioned" US schoolteacher assumed "that being half-Japanese I would have a special aptitude" for haikus. I most enjoyed the Beauty of the Package, an essay on Japanese packaged-wedding culture (including the fascinating Narita Divorces), concludes. "Is that the Japanese secret? That the emotions we find when rehearsed may be at least as powerful - as real - as the ones we so cherish for their spontaneity and distinctness? That somebody's else's model, honed and perfected over centuries, may be better and wiser than the one we've come up with ourselves last month?". Disappointingly, the stories by Japanese authors appealed least, perhaps because they were even less coherent to the theme other than the nationality of the author, and I didn't go away particularly wanting to hunt down further works by any of the authors included, which means Granta 127 failed in one major respect. And the colourful art included added absolutely nothing for me - other than to the cover price (see below) - but that perhaps reflects my personal preferences. Overall, an enjoyable read but really something to dip-in-and-out of than read cover to cover, and, while I seldom comment on book prices, quite expensive (£13RRP) for what is ultimately the same length as a paperback novel.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Margaryta

    This was my first experience with Granta and it was such an overwhelming and interesting one. What I liked most about the anthology is perhaps what some reviewers complained was a downside – I liked how close and far the stories, and artwork/photography, were to the theme of Japan. But there was something immersive in each one, as they all created the very same twenty new Japans that I was promised from the back cover. Some stories, such as “Breakfast” and “Things Remembered and Things Forgotten This was my first experience with Granta and it was such an overwhelming and interesting one. What I liked most about the anthology is perhaps what some reviewers complained was a downside – I liked how close and far the stories, and artwork/photography, were to the theme of Japan. But there was something immersive in each one, as they all created the very same twenty new Japans that I was promised from the back cover. Some stories, such as “Breakfast” and “Things Remembered and Things Forgotten”, I didn’t like as much and had more difficulty getting into, as well wondering how exactly they wanted to present Japan or ‘Japan-ness’ to me. Other stories meanwhile, such as “Pig Skin” and “Printable”, were absolutely fascinating, leaving me with a strong impression and a lot of thoughts after I finished with them. I also loved the art features, namely the “Primal Mountain” series of photographs which from a distance looked so realistic that when I initially saw the cover on Goodreads I thought it was an actual mountain. A lovely collection that I enjoyed and will definitely enjoy rereading in the future. The foreignness and interesting strangeness of Japan really came through in this collection, and was a pleasure to read for someone like me who has always dreamed of visiting the country and experiencing it for myself.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Susan Emmet

    Forty plus years ago, I did my senior thesis work on Noh Drama and its (supposed) influence on William Butler Yeats. I think often of the measure, the movement, the poetry, the masks and kimonos and music - the sense of structure and lyricism. And now it's issue 127 of Granta. I was hooked and torn by virtually all the photographs, stories and non-fiction. What lingers is a sense of surreal. Such a thread of history and culture maybe squashed by "Tokyo-Tokyo." All the ads, all the bustle, all the c Forty plus years ago, I did my senior thesis work on Noh Drama and its (supposed) influence on William Butler Yeats. I think often of the measure, the movement, the poetry, the masks and kimonos and music - the sense of structure and lyricism. And now it's issue 127 of Granta. I was hooked and torn by virtually all the photographs, stories and non-fiction. What lingers is a sense of surreal. Such a thread of history and culture maybe squashed by "Tokyo-Tokyo." All the ads, all the bustle, all the connectivity through cells and such, all the sense of disconnectedness between and among couples, siblings and family. I was especially drawn to Oyamada's "Spider Lilies," Solnit's "Arrival Gates," Johnson's "Scavengers" - maybe because I just finished The Orphan Master's Son- and EnJoe's "Printable." I was puzzled by most of the photography although accompanying introductions by the artists helped clarify. I felt like I was on a strange magical mystery tour I had trouble understanding.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kristi

    I didn't like this book. At all. And maybe that's because I don't really get in to short stories type books; however, I have read some decent ones that I didn't hate. But this one, I hated. I still am trying to understand how this was in the travel section. I thought it was going to be short writeups of places and things Japanese authors like or hate or whatever. What I got was weird fiction with no real end. Only maybe three stories had anything to do with places in Japan. For gosh sakes, one o I didn't like this book. At all. And maybe that's because I don't really get in to short stories type books; however, I have read some decent ones that I didn't hate. But this one, I hated. I still am trying to understand how this was in the travel section. I thought it was going to be short writeups of places and things Japanese authors like or hate or whatever. What I got was weird fiction with no real end. Only maybe three stories had anything to do with places in Japan. For gosh sakes, one of the stories was set in China. Again, please tell me why this was in the travel section for Japan? Anyways. There was one story towards the end that I still have no idea what it was about or what it was trying to tell me. I did like the one about the sexless marriage and the spinning around during the heatwave, but I only minimally liked them. Lesson learned for me is to not get or read anymore short story compilation books.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    The latest offering from granta is an excellent collection of short pieces themed loosely round Japan. None of the authors were familiar to me, but I will defintely look out for more writing by Sayaka Murata, Andres Felipe Solano, Kyoko Nakajima, and Yukiko Motoya. If anythin links to pieces together other than a theme of Japan it would be a certain spareseness of writing - more is unsaid or shown and left to the reader's imagination than is tytpical in more Western writing. That's exactly what The latest offering from granta is an excellent collection of short pieces themed loosely round Japan. None of the authors were familiar to me, but I will defintely look out for more writing by Sayaka Murata, Andres Felipe Solano, Kyoko Nakajima, and Yukiko Motoya. If anythin links to pieces together other than a theme of Japan it would be a certain spareseness of writing - more is unsaid or shown and left to the reader's imagination than is tytpical in more Western writing. That's exactly what I like about Japanese writing. There's also a hint of supernatural or magic in many of the stories in the syle of many of Haruki Murakami's books.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    This is an uneven collection that includes (in my opinion) just a few standout pieces. It looks to me like a number of authors "mailed it in" for a check: I'm looking at you Tao Lin. By far the best submission was Hiromi Kawakami's Blue Moon, in which she ruminates on her mortality in connection with a trip to Russia. Other solid pieces include Things Remembered and Things Forgotten (Kyoko Nakajima), Pig Skin (Andres Felipe Solano) and Scavengers (Adam Johnson). Far too many pedestrian and banal This is an uneven collection that includes (in my opinion) just a few standout pieces. It looks to me like a number of authors "mailed it in" for a check: I'm looking at you Tao Lin. By far the best submission was Hiromi Kawakami's Blue Moon, in which she ruminates on her mortality in connection with a trip to Russia. Other solid pieces include Things Remembered and Things Forgotten (Kyoko Nakajima), Pig Skin (Andres Felipe Solano) and Scavengers (Adam Johnson). Far too many pedestrian and banal submissions.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    This particular issue of Granta has some pleasant stories, but they are all quite understated and for the most part, none stand out from the rest. But perhaps, for an issue dedicated to Japan, such deference and uniformity is not unexpected. "Variations on a theme" and "Pink", the final story, are the highlights here. This particular issue of Granta has some pleasant stories, but they are all quite understated and for the most part, none stand out from the rest. But perhaps, for an issue dedicated to Japan, such deference and uniformity is not unexpected. "Variations on a theme" and "Pink", the final story, are the highlights here.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lawrence

    Some favorites from this issue: Variations on a Theme by Mr Donut; Things Remembered and Things Forgotten; Blue Moon; The Beauty of the Package; Pig Skin; The Dogs and Pink. Interesting issue with Japan as the theme.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bristol Bookworm

    This is a normal Granta collection: some things that are beautiful, some things that are sad, an done or two that are downright weird. I'll look up a couple of authors in the future to read more of their work This is a normal Granta collection: some things that are beautiful, some things that are sad, an done or two that are downright weird. I'll look up a couple of authors in the future to read more of their work

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mateus

    A wonderful collection of writing about or from (mostly) contemporary Japan. The stories encompass a range of styles that allows you to glimpse the scope of a culture many of us know of but don't truly know! A wonderful collection of writing about or from (mostly) contemporary Japan. The stories encompass a range of styles that allows you to glimpse the scope of a culture many of us know of but don't truly know!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Overall an excellent collection of stories, interspersed with some decent photography and illustrations. A wide variety of perspectives, all with some connection to Japan.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Not so into all the stories in this book. The tinfoil mountains are cool though.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rafael

    It seems impossible to accurately review a collection of stories from such diverse writers. Some were good, some not so much... Some were amazing discoveries.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Smith

    Intriguing and unusual writing by some well known authors as well as some new names (for me at least). I will be reading more from quite a few of these authors.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Uneven. Those that stick with me are Rebecca Solnit's description of the orange gates and Ruth Ozeki's translations of her grandfather's poems. Uneven. Those that stick with me are Rebecca Solnit's description of the orange gates and Ruth Ozeki's translations of her grandfather's poems.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    I liked this so much I'm thinking about subscribing! I liked this so much I'm thinking about subscribing!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Parvathy

    Disappointing. A very uneven mix of pieces with hardly any standouts. Nakajima's Things Remembered and Things Forgotten and Kawakami's Blue Moon were the ones I liked best. Disappointing. A very uneven mix of pieces with hardly any standouts. Nakajima's Things Remembered and Things Forgotten and Kawakami's Blue Moon were the ones I liked best.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Another great selection of short stories, essays, photojournalism and points on which to ponder. This time with a Japanese theme.

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