Contemporary Japanese fiction

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There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura (transl. Polly Barton): Giving it your all

I’ve often wondered why more fiction isn’t about work given how much of our lives most of us spend doing it which is what drew me to Kikuko Tsumura’s There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job, her first novel to be published here in the UK. Having experienced harassment in her first job, Tsumura …

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Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa (transl. Alison Watts): More than just a simple confection

I seem to have been on a bit of a Oneworld roll recently: first They Know Not What They Do – not without its faults but worth reading – then The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao, which looks set fair to be one of my books of 2017, and now Durian Sukegawa’s Sweet Bean Paste. …

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Record of a Night Too Brief by Hiromi Kawakami (transl. Lucy North): Three strange stories

Hiromi Kawakami’s quietly charming tale of a young, slightly awkward woman and her eccentric colleagues, The Nakano Thrift Shop, was one of my books of last year. It’s written in the same understated style as the rather more melancholic Strange Weather in Tokyo, a style of which I’m particularly fond. Unsurprisingly, I was hoping for …

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The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami (transl. Allison Markin Powell): An endearing little gem

Three years ago I reviewed Hiromi Kawakami’s Strange Weather in Tokyo, praising the publishers for its splendid jacket and I’m delighted to see that they’ve used the same designer for The Nakano Thrift Shop. It’s not the only thing this quietly charming novel has in common with Kawakami’s previous book: it’s also narrated by an …

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