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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
I began to realize how disgracefully I was behaving.
Translated from Japanese by Chikako Kobayashi
from “Breasts and Eggs”
By Mieko Kawakami
Just as I’m thinking it’s about time to get out, she suddenly whips off her towel and shows me her own breasts.
Translated from Japanese by Louise Heal Kawai
from “Install”
By Wataya Risa
And if you ask what I was doing, I was lying in the garbage like this pretending to be a nonconformist.
Translated from Japanese by Katherine Lundy