Hiromi Kawakami

Cover image for A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami

Five Japanese Novels I’ve Read

I’ve long been fascinated by Japan, partly because it’s so very different from my own country and partly because it seems to me to be a place of contradictions – on the one hand a set of very traditional, sometimes ancient values and beliefs, on the other an ultra-modern, throwaway urban culture. Or at least …

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Paperbacks to Look Out for in August 2020: Part Two

I’m beginning this second instalment of August paperbacks with one I’ve already read. Linda Grant’s A Stranger City looks at how we’re all both connected and unconnected, portraying a post-referendum London through a set of disparate characters brought together by their links with a woman whose body has been pulled from the Thames. Each character’s …

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Paperbacks to Look Out for in June 2017: Part One

There’s a fair old mix of attention-snagging titles published in paperback this June. I’ll start with one that was hotly anticipated in hardback: Peter Ho Davies’ The Fortunes, his first novel since the much-lauded The Welsh Girl back in 2007. Spanning 150 years, Davies’ novel explores the Chinese-American experience through the lens of four characters: …

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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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Books of the Year 2016: Part Four

This final books of the year post leapfrogs from August to October. Not sure what happened in September but I suspect it may have something to do with riding the Central European railways for several weeks. October’s reading made up for it starting with Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth, to which I had been looking forward a …

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Books of the Year 2016: Part Three

Just one July favourite this year although August brought an embarrassment of riches with five splendid novels. July’s title was Jane Rogers’ Conrad and Eleanor, a nuanced portrait of a marriage in which traditional male/female roles are upended. Eleanor is engaged in medical research as is Conrad but while she is a star in her …

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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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Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami (transl. Allison Markin Powell): Judging a book and its cover

This slim, beautifully written novel begins one evening when, ordering a meal at a bar, Tsukiko sits next to an elderly man who chooses exactly the same dish. She recognises him as her teacher from her secondary school days but cannot remember his name saying nothing until he notices her. To cover her embarrassment she …

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