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New Writing from Japan, Part II

August 2012

The second part of our double issue of Japanese writing presents writing grounded in the everyday, with uncertainty and confusion roiling underneath. Guest editor Michael Emmerich has selected pieces about ordinary people in ordinary situations, struggling with discontent and longing for change. In two tales of plastic surgery, Aso Nonami shows a woman in the grip of obsession and deception, and Akutagawa Prize-winner Kawakami Mieko looks at breasts and implants. Young sensation Wataya Risa finds an alienated high-school girl trying to throw out her life, while Motoya Yukiko’s numb young woman drifts through her early twenties.  Sakurai Suzumo sets marital discord against the devastation of March 11; Tsushima Yūko sees a day at the beach turn dark; and Nomura Kiwao evokes the landscape of childhood. The issue is produced in partnership with the British Centre for Literary Translation. We thank the BCLT, and David Karashima and the Nippon Foundation, for their generous support. Elsewhere, the great Adonis introduces Egyptian poet Abdel-Moneim Ramadan.

The Real, the Familiar: An Introduction
By Michael Emmerich
Tokyo was unnervingly cool and pleasant early in July. The rainy season had only just begun, and yet, after a single, massive, unseasonal typhoon, there was no rain for at least a week. The peculiarity…
from “Face”
By Asa Nonami
Even if we were to remove the crow’s feet, there’s still the overall balance of your face to consider.
Translated from Japanese by Takami Nieda
My Wife and Me in March 2011
By Suzumo Sakurai
Someday, sometime in the distant future, I wonder how my wife and I will look back on the month of March 2011. Obviously we’ll remember it as the month of the massive earthquake, but I suspect we’ll…
Translated from Japanese by Chikako Kobayashi
from “Breasts and Eggs”
By Mieko Kawakami
I’ve long been aware of the many parallels between Mieko Kawakami’s home city of Osaka, Japan, and my own hometown, Manchester in the UK. The third largest cities in their respective countries,…
Translated from Japanese by Louise Heal Kawai
from “Install”
By Wataya Risa
I left school early that day and promptly became a truancy case. Conked out as soon as I got home and slept like the dead. I woke up in the evening after a bad dream, but struggled against a mild sleep…
Translated from Japanese by Katherine Lundy