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New Writing from Japan

July 2012

This month and next we’re showcasing writing from Japan. In the wake of the events of March 11, 2011, the boundaries between real and unreal, solid and fluid, seem to have shifted; guest editor Michael Emmerich has selected pieces that resonate with the country’s new mood. The pieces in this first part have the texture of a dream, unstable, fleeting, fantastic. In tales of shape-shifting, Jin Keita finds new life in a different form, and Kawakami Hiromi pursues a girl who turns into a pearl. Kurahashi Yumiko takes flower arranging to a new level. Akutagawa Prize winner EnJoe Toh spins a yarn about an oddly familiar galaxy. Nakai Hideo follows an illusionist and finds himself part of the act.  Medoruma Shun receives voice mail from the beyond. Poet Yotsumoto Yasuhiro plays with rhyme and rhythm. And Furukawa Hideo’s young office worker stumbles upon a new world only steps away. 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, we present three views of the current Greek crisis from Amanda Michalopoulou, Petros Markaris, and Auguste Corteau.

By Nomura Kiwao
For now I’ll just give it that name, repelling all water, still
Translated from Japanese by Angus Turvill
The Reality of Dreams: An Introduction
By Michael Emmerich
A little more than a year has passed since a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck forty-two miles off the coast of northeastern Japan, raising a tsunami that swelled as high as 131 feet in places and left…
By Jin Keita
It required a certain focus and concentration in order to vaporize.
Translated from Japanese by Alison Watts
Apollo’s Head
By Kurahashi Yumiko
For the time being I set the head in a shallow porcelain bowl, the kind used for flower arrangements.
Translated from Japanese by Ian MacDonald
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Galactic Empire
By EnJoe Toh
Galactic Empire, you’re my only hope.
Translated from Japanese by Jocelyne Allen