Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata

A novel that is also a haiku. Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata takes place on the western coast of northern Japan where geography and climate conspire to create a mountainous landscape that gets more snow than any other place on earth.  The small townships along the railway tracks that cut through the mountains survive on income from the few tourists who visit the local hot springs … Continue reading Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata

The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide

I realize my sample size is basically two, but what is it about Japanese writers and cats? If you’re a fan of Haruki Murakami, then you know his interest in cats. They are such a strong presence in his novel The Wind-up Bird that they cast something of a shadow on the rest of his writing.  Do all his books feature a cat? No? The Guest … Continue reading The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide

Deep River by Shusako Endo

This books was one of the strangest reading experiences I’ve had in a while. The story concerns a group of Japanese tourists, visiting Buddhist holy sites on a tour of India.  It’s a bit like one of those 1970’s movies that featured a disparate cast of characters thrown together and then forced to confront each other through facing a common hardship. Their tour is not … Continue reading Deep River by Shusako Endo

The Devil’s Disciple by Shiro Hamao

Two very entertaining thriller/mysteries by an author you’ve probably never heard of translated here by J. Keith Vincent. Both stories, “The Devil’s Disciple” and the novella length “Did He Kill Them” are really psychological studies as much as noir detective thrillers. In both, the “killer” has already been caught so there’s not that much of investigating to be done.  However, in each the confession is … Continue reading The Devil’s Disciple by Shiro Hamao

Tournament of Short Stories II–Murakami vs. Hardwick or “Goodbye, Haruki!”

I never thought it would come to this. It’s not like I don’t still love Haruki Murakami.  I do. Maybe not like I once did– maybe the honeymoon is finally over, though it lasted many years. Many, many terrific writers essentially write the same story over and over again.  Some put the same narrator into slightly different situations but basically repeat themselves each time they … Continue reading Tournament of Short Stories II–Murakami vs. Hardwick or “Goodbye, Haruki!”

The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura

This is one of the hardest types of books to review.  I liked it.  I think it’s basically good.  But I’m not crazy about it–to be honest I just liked it. It’s not bad.  It’s pretty good really.  Interesting enough story.  Well done characterization.  Themes that typically interest me.  Good writing, in translation by Satoko Izumo and Stephen Coates.  Thrilling enough to keep me reading … Continue reading The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura

Murakami for Beginners: After the Quake by Haruki Murakami

If you’re one of the many people out there hesitating before you try a Haruki Murakami novel, After the Quake may be just the book for you. Every so often, I read a comment from someone wondering where to start with Haruki Murakami.  Wind-up Bird Chronicle or Kafka on the Shore?  Both are fairly hefty novels which can intimidate people nervous about magical realism. The six stories weighing in … Continue reading Murakami for Beginners: After the Quake by Haruki Murakami

A Short Story Omnibus Edition

I’ve reviewed short stories here and at my old blog for many years now.  Not quite on a weekly basis, not all the time anyway, but pretty close.  These are some of the reviews I ran at Ready When You Are, C.B. in the years 2009 to 2011.  I’m slowly migrating all of my old posts over to this new site.  I just can’t bare … Continue reading A Short Story Omnibus Edition

Henry James vs. Haruki Murakami: A Deal Me In Short Story Challenge.

This post concludes my first round of the Deal Me In Short Story Reading Challenge. While I expected to finish back in August, I have enjoyed the challenge so much that I’ve already set up, and started on, a second set of stories and essays.  I’ve added essays to the challenge for  Non-fiction November. For this final round in my first deck I had only … Continue reading Henry James vs. Haruki Murakami: A Deal Me In Short Story Challenge.

John Hersey vs. Haruki Murakami

For this round of the Deal-Me-In Short Story Challenge I drew John Hersey’s “To the End of the American Dream” and Haruki Murakami’s  “Man-Eating Cats.”  At the risk of making this a Haruki Murakami week I decided to go with what the cards dealt and give him another go, even though I just finished his new book.  Scroll down for the review. The title held out the … Continue reading John Hersey vs. Haruki Murakami

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

I’m please to say that Haruki is back!  Most of us were less than fully satisfied with Haruki Murakami’s last novel, 1Q84, most of us didn’t even  make it through to the end, so I suspect we were all a little nervous about this new one. But I’m pleased to say that Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, translated from the Japanese by … Continue reading Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami vs. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

For the Deal Me In Short Story Challenge this week I drew two of my favorite novelists. Novelists. As far as short stories go, well, one of them is pretty good. The thing is both of the stories I read this time around,  The Arrangers of Marriage by Adichie and The Year of Spaghetti by Murakami both feel like sketches done in preparation for a larger … Continue reading Haruki Murakami vs. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie