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The Book of Tokyo: A City in Short Fiction

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A shape-shifter arrives at Tokyo harbour in human form, set to embark on an unstoppable rampage through the city’s train network… A young woman is accompanied home one night by a reclusive student, and finds herself lured into a flat full of eerie Egyptian artefacts… A man suspects his young wife’s obsession with picnicking every weekend in the city’s parks hides a darker mo A shape-shifter arrives at Tokyo harbour in human form, set to embark on an unstoppable rampage through the city’s train network… A young woman is accompanied home one night by a reclusive student, and finds herself lured into a flat full of eerie Egyptian artefacts… A man suspects his young wife’s obsession with picnicking every weekend in the city’s parks hides a darker motive… At first, Tokyo appears in these stories as it does to many outsiders: a city of bewildering scale, awe-inspiring modernity, peculiar rules, unknowable secrets and, to some extent, danger. Characters observe their fellow citizens from afar, hesitant to stray from their daily routines to engage with them. But Tokyo being the city it is, random encounters inevitably take place – a naïve book collector, mistaken for a French speaker, is drawn into a world he never knew existed; a woman seeking psychiatric help finds herself in a taxi with an older man wanting to share his own peculiar revelations; a depressed divorcee accepts an unexpected lunch invitation to try Thai food for the very first time… The result in each story is a small but crucial change in perspective, a sampling of the unexpected yet simple pleasure of other people’s company. As one character puts it, ‘The world is full of delicious things, you know.’


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A shape-shifter arrives at Tokyo harbour in human form, set to embark on an unstoppable rampage through the city’s train network… A young woman is accompanied home one night by a reclusive student, and finds herself lured into a flat full of eerie Egyptian artefacts… A man suspects his young wife’s obsession with picnicking every weekend in the city’s parks hides a darker mo A shape-shifter arrives at Tokyo harbour in human form, set to embark on an unstoppable rampage through the city’s train network… A young woman is accompanied home one night by a reclusive student, and finds herself lured into a flat full of eerie Egyptian artefacts… A man suspects his young wife’s obsession with picnicking every weekend in the city’s parks hides a darker motive… At first, Tokyo appears in these stories as it does to many outsiders: a city of bewildering scale, awe-inspiring modernity, peculiar rules, unknowable secrets and, to some extent, danger. Characters observe their fellow citizens from afar, hesitant to stray from their daily routines to engage with them. But Tokyo being the city it is, random encounters inevitably take place – a naïve book collector, mistaken for a French speaker, is drawn into a world he never knew existed; a woman seeking psychiatric help finds herself in a taxi with an older man wanting to share his own peculiar revelations; a depressed divorcee accepts an unexpected lunch invitation to try Thai food for the very first time… The result in each story is a small but crucial change in perspective, a sampling of the unexpected yet simple pleasure of other people’s company. As one character puts it, ‘The world is full of delicious things, you know.’

30 review for The Book of Tokyo: A City in Short Fiction

  1. 5 out of 5

    Smiley

    3.75 stars Reading this 10-story paperback, I think, is contemporarily explorational as the imagining glimpses of interesting Tokyo-based narrations by ten writers who were born between 1948-1983, in other words, aged between 34-69 years old. Their years of birth listed with the number of writers in the brackets are the following: 1983 (1), 1978 (1), 1968 (1), 1967 (1), 1966 (1), 1964 (3), 1958 (1), and 1948 (1). So we can see that one is elderly (69, born in 1948), seven are middle-aged (49-59, 3.75 stars Reading this 10-story paperback, I think, is contemporarily explorational as the imagining glimpses of interesting Tokyo-based narrations by ten writers who were born between 1948-1983, in other words, aged between 34-69 years old. Their years of birth listed with the number of writers in the brackets are the following: 1983 (1), 1978 (1), 1968 (1), 1967 (1), 1966 (1), 1964 (3), 1958 (1), and 1948 (1). So we can see that one is elderly (69, born in 1948), seven are middle-aged (49-59, born between 1958-1968), and two are young (34, 39 born in 1978, 1983); therefore, we can read this collected stories that expose three sets of narrative short stories written by an old Japanese writer (A), a group of the seven middle-aged ones (B), and a group of the two young ones (C). My idea is that there should be something different in terms of their ways of looking at things, people, society, etc. between the three sets of writers and I would leave this task at that for those interested readers themselves to try reading and find some trends characteristic of each set. As for me, I've finished reading its stories and had two outstanding ones in mind and would divulge what I found and hoped to share with my GR friends. At present I just wonder if the two stories will belong to which set, in the same set or in a different set, and why. First, I liked "Dad, I Love You" (scribbled nearby as 'remarkably outstanding') by Nao-Cola Yamazaki (set C), that is, she is a young writer who has masterly written to reveal a seemingly typical working man's life in Tokyo. I didn't know why this sentence "a depressed divorcee accepts a lunch invitation from a co-worker to try Thai food for the very first time ..." (back cover) rang a bell when I first read it. Arguably, our Thai food in many countries has long been uniquely famous and deliciously tasted. I think the writer having her own experience on Thai food might have tried and liked it which she includes in this story, for instance, the three Thai popular dishes: tom yum kung [a red soup, not as spicy as it looks, but sour instead. (p. 82)], khao man gai [chicken with rice. The rice is sticky. (p. 82)], and som tam [green papaya salad. It had dried shrimp and peanuts on top. It is tremendously spicy. (p. 83)]. At the end, I think, we couldn't help admiring the man, the narrator who remains anonymous, as one of the great fathers who in fact first met his adopted daughter, Yukari, when she was five years old and still takes care of her like his biological daughter till she is now eighteen studying first year at university, this is a golden-hearted man deservedly respected and honored; that's one of the reasons why the sweet sentence is uttered and wisely placed as the story's title. Second, I found reading the six-part "Vortex" by Osamu Hashimoto (set A) delightfully entertaining due to his plot depicting a typical complex relationships of a family in metropolitan Tokyo. The protagonist is a wife named Masako, having a 25-year-old just-married daughter, who enters the scene with her worryingly reflective thinking due to her indecisive husband and her family backgrounds as we can see from these extracts. For example, It was obvious her husband didn't want to let his daughter go. He was trying to abstain from decision, and leave everything up to his wife. He would hardly want to say something that would turn her against him. 'Masako? What do you think?' he asked, addressing her much more politely than usual. When Masako said, 'If that's what she wants, there's nothing I can do,' her daughter said 'Cheers!' and left the table. ...(p. 115) Once the eldest son had married and set up his own household, and the second son had left the same way, too, it was only natural that the youngest daughter should marry and move out as well. Masako thought of her parents being left alone in the house, and wondered aloud to the man she was going to marry: 'I hope they'll be all right.' The man she was going to marry was called Nakazawa, and was originally from the provinces. His parents back home already lived alone with their elderly parents. ... (p. 127) Especially touched by this paragraph, I admired the writer's literary stature since it suggested his in-depth understanding on the elderly people, perhaps from having his own grandpa or papa. I hope you'd like it and imagine with fond memories. Her father liked to read. He seemed to enjoy it even more in his old age, and carried on frequenting bookshops, despite his habit of saying, 'They don't write them like they used to.' He didn't mind his married daughter coming to see him, but he seemed to be fine on his own. He might even have preferred it. When she said, 'But you must be a little lonely,' to her father, who seemed to get used to being alone, he said, 'Well.' He does feel it, after all, thought Masako, but when she said, 'Dad, why don't you come and live with us?' he held out one hand, and waved it from side to side. It's not that he doesn't want to live with us, thought Masako. He just doesn't want to have to change the way he lives. ... (p. 129) To continue . . .

  2. 5 out of 5

    Liviu

    An excellent collection of contemporary Japanese short stories with a Tokyo thematic, stories that introduced me to many authors and made me look for their translated novels and try them - I got the book originally since two of my favorite authors had stories in (Banana Yoshimoto and Hiromi Kawakami), but after reading their stories from the collection I decided to check out pretty much all the authors there - sadly not all are translated at longer lengths, though some appear also in the Monkey An excellent collection of contemporary Japanese short stories with a Tokyo thematic, stories that introduced me to many authors and made me look for their translated novels and try them - I got the book originally since two of my favorite authors had stories in (Banana Yoshimoto and Hiromi Kawakami), but after reading their stories from the collection I decided to check out pretty much all the authors there - sadly not all are translated at longer lengths, though some appear also in the Monkey Business annual Japanese fiction magazine which became another favorite due to this book In order the stories are: Model T Frankestein by H. Furukawa - the only one I didn't really get as it is a sort of sfnal allegory more than anything and it kinda seemed pointless, but I liked the writing well enough Picnic - E Kaori - one of the big favorites of the book; about a married couple having a picnic and recounting how they met; God's Boat by the same author is among my current reads and I expect to like it a lot when done A House for Two - M. Kakuta - a 38 year old woman prefers living with her mother to having a boyfriend; very good story and another favorite first person narration; Woman on the Other Shore by the author, will be one of my next tries when i get my copy from the library these days Mummy - Banana Yoshimoto - short and in her usual style about a girl who meets a strange boy and stays with him for a few days; a good introduction to the author's style The Owl's Estate T. Horie - another excellent story about a young Japanese man who loves French literature and uses his meager savings to order packages with books from France; when carrying one such, he is approached by a French girl who is visiting Japan and doing odd jobs (translation, club companionship, teaching French/English) on the side (and not quite legally as a tourist) while living in a house with other (mostly) young Western women doing same; excellent stuff though has an unfinished/part of a novel feel; would love to read more from the author but only French translations available and I plan to look into getting that at some point Dad, I love you - N. Yamazaki - a company man lives with only his student girl; another very good story making me wish more translations from the author would be available Mambo - H. Kanehara - the usual style of the superb (but brutal) Snake and Earrings novel; also plan to read Autofiction from the authorwhich just arrived in the mail Vortex - O Hashimoto - a woman recounting her somewhat lonely life; ok though not one of favorites here, but definitely readable The Hut on the roof - H. Kawakami - another good introduction to a favorite author's work, but with a feel of incompleteness, more as part of a larger work An Elevator on Sunday - S. Yoshida - another of the favorites here, about a young man with no steady work whose girlfriend trains to be a doctor; excellent stuff and Parade from the author is among my current reads too Overall, excellent panoramic view of contemporary Japanese authors and a must for anyone interested in Japanese literature

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lyn Elliott

    I need to finish reading more about traditional Japan before I can write about this collection of stories, all about social displacement, all fragmentary in form, perhaps reflecting fragmenting identities, as modern Japan moves into new modes of existence while traditional structures and mores remain part of the deeper, older culture.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Milky Mixer

    I mostly wanted this book for the Banana Yoshimoto story, "Mummy," which I don't believe is available in any other English collections. It's probably the shortest story in this set and is pretty strange, even for Banana. In it, a college student's one night stand with an archaeology grad takes a dark turn. Although the stories are quirky, nothing much happens in most of them - a middle aged woman who lives with her mother ponders her situation; a collector of French books forms a tentative friend I mostly wanted this book for the Banana Yoshimoto story, "Mummy," which I don't believe is available in any other English collections. It's probably the shortest story in this set and is pretty strange, even for Banana. In it, a college student's one night stand with an archaeology grad takes a dark turn. Although the stories are quirky, nothing much happens in most of them - a middle aged woman who lives with her mother ponders her situation; a collector of French books forms a tentative friendship with a foreign woman; an awkward businessman adapts to life after his wife leaves him; a fortysomething teacher can't sleep next to her lover; and so on... Nothing overly remarkable, but they make good reading for a daydreamy weekend.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Phee

    This was a bit of a bust for me. I didn't feel invested in the stories and I only truly liked the second story, Picnic. Such a shame because generally, shorter Japanese works are more my cup of tea than longer ones. I think I will give Banana Yoshimoto's books a go though. Mummy was an interesting story but it was too short to really have much of an impact.

  6. 5 out of 5

    L.S. Popovich

    What I thought would be a finger-licking good anthology turned out to be at times just what I wanted and occasionally almost seppuku-inducing. Hideo Furukawa continues to perplex me in uncomfortable ways. Hitomi Kanehara and Osamu Hashimoto and several other authors nearly unknown outside of Japan offer an uneven and rather concerning series of gritty episodes. But the shining lights of this edition are Banana Yoshimoto, Hiromi Kawakami and Shuichi Yoshida. These are some of their best stories in E What I thought would be a finger-licking good anthology turned out to be at times just what I wanted and occasionally almost seppuku-inducing. Hideo Furukawa continues to perplex me in uncomfortable ways. Hitomi Kanehara and Osamu Hashimoto and several other authors nearly unknown outside of Japan offer an uneven and rather concerning series of gritty episodes. But the shining lights of this edition are Banana Yoshimoto, Hiromi Kawakami and Shuichi Yoshida. These are some of their best stories in English to date and the whole reason I picked up this book. Yoshida in particular is uncannily good and at this point criminally under-translated.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Paul Ataua

    Exactly what you would expect from a collection of short stories; some gems, some fairly good reads, and others that seem to be pretty much makeweight. Got to read some of my favorite modern Japanese writers, like Banana Yoshimoto and Hiromi Kawakami, and got introduced to never read befores, like Mitsuyo Kakuta. Money well spent.

  8. 5 out of 5

    G.G.

    The perfect book for dipping into, either as you move around Tokyo on the trains, or virtually, from a distance. The selection of stories is eclectic. The first, "Model T Frankenstein" by Hideo Furukawa, begins with the narrator contemplating the goats on Hachijōjima, an island far out in the Pacific Ocean but--administratively at least--part of the Tokyo Metropolis. Yoshimoto Banana's "Mummy" is rather darker than other work of hers I'm familiar with. Yoshiyuki Horie's wonderful "The Owl's Esta The perfect book for dipping into, either as you move around Tokyo on the trains, or virtually, from a distance. The selection of stories is eclectic. The first, "Model T Frankenstein" by Hideo Furukawa, begins with the narrator contemplating the goats on Hachijōjima, an island far out in the Pacific Ocean but--administratively at least--part of the Tokyo Metropolis. Yoshimoto Banana's "Mummy" is rather darker than other work of hers I'm familiar with. Yoshiyuki Horie's wonderful "The Owl's Estate" is set during the bubble years in the area between Waseda University, where Horie studied and is now a professor, and Ikebukuro, and I'd guess the "I" narrator is based on Horie himself: accosted in the street one day by a French woman who recognizes the owl carry bag he has as that of a big French publisher, the two become friends, or at least she comes to depend on his coming to her linguistic aid from time to time, and he--nice guy that he is--doesn't mind helping out. The story ends with "I" finding himself at a party surrounded by drunk foreign women. It's a scene that could easily have been done differently and come out sounding if not exactly racist then at least anti-foreign, but Horie manages to make it hilarious and touching at the same time. I also thought Osamu Hashimoto's "Vortex" was beautifully done. The middle-aged Masako, "a woman without distinguishing features," contemplates a life that has coincided with the postwar "period of rapid growth." What she didn't realise was that she'd never in her life done something because she wanted to. The things she needed to concern herself with had always presented themselves to her at the appropriate time. But there was no more to come. The future wasn't arriving.The future is always arriving, of course; perhaps Hashimoto means to suggest that it may not be the future we--oblivious like Masako--have been hoping for.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Femke

    There's something really comforting about Japanese literature. I mean, the first story was kinda weird and another one was just pure porn... but the other stories were so pure and sweet and I loved the mentionings of the places in Tokyo and the food. It made me feel like a was Back in Japan. So I really liked this collection and I made me want to read more of these authors.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Aurora Shele

    Didn't really like this book. I was pretty disappointed, especially after reading short stories from Murakami 'Men without women' that I rated 5 stars. I didn't have that Tokyo feelings, except for maybe a few stories. Most of them seemed pretty unfinished and some of them I did not quite understand at all.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Zizeloni

    Short stories from various Japanese authors, technically set in Tokyo (most of the times the city is irrelevant to the story). I liked some a lot, they had this japanese atmosphere and style that I like. Some others I didn't like at all. But in general they were all very different from each other, you meet different authors, so maybe it was worth it in the end.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Renae Lucas-Hall

    I love reading and writing Japan-related short stories and I’m a big fan of Japanese writers so when I came across this book I couldn’t wait to start reading it. There are contributions in this book from a few famous writers like Banana Yoshimoto, Mitsuyo Kakuta, Hiromi Kawakami and Hitomi Kanehara who left school at fifteen to start a writing career and won the Akutagawa Prize at just twenty-one years of age. I’ve been to Tokyo many times and I love the city and the Tokyoites who live there so I love reading and writing Japan-related short stories and I’m a big fan of Japanese writers so when I came across this book I couldn’t wait to start reading it. There are contributions in this book from a few famous writers like Banana Yoshimoto, Mitsuyo Kakuta, Hiromi Kawakami and Hitomi Kanehara who left school at fifteen to start a writing career and won the Akutagawa Prize at just twenty-one years of age. I’ve been to Tokyo many times and I love the city and the Tokyoites who live there so it was great to explore the interesting characters in this book and many of them reminded me of some of the people I’ve met when I’ve lived in or passed through Japan’s capital. I really enjoyed all the stories. Each story was unique and easy to read. I never felt bored or disappointed with any of the stories so I do highly recommend this book. I’d read Kanehara’s award-winning book ‘Snakes and Earrings’ so I knew what to expect from this young writer and I thought her short story ‘Mambo’ was consistent with her style of writing. Her colourful yet shocking characters really do lead you into some bizarre situations. One of my favourite stories was ‘A House for Two’ by Mitsuyo Kakuta. The protagonist Ku-chan is convinced her life is exactly as it should be but it’s so clear to the reader she’s being manipulated by her mother and unable to make life choices without her. I also enjoyed ‘Vortex’ by Osamu Hashimoto. The Japan Times said this story was too long but I could have read so much more about Masako, her family and the life she was predestined to lead. If you’ve ever stayed with a family in Japan then Masako might remind you of the mother in the household and how she has to adapt her life to fit in with others and how she has to fulfill the role of what it means to be Japanese in a world which is now becoming more global. I also loved the story ‘An Elevator on Sunday’ by Shūichi Yoshida and the fact it was written in the third person. Mr. Watanabe, the lead character, is a man whose home and lifestyle has “taken on a decidedly domestic air”. Watanabe gradually gives up going to work and looking for jobs. Once he was a hard worker with no time for cooking or meaningful relationships but now his days blur into each other and everything has become almost pointless, and this applies to his relationship with the girl he’s seeing called Keiko who turns out not to be Japanese at all. This story reminded me of the hard-working Japanese salarymen who were famous for working so hard before the economic bubble burst. Now that the Japanese economy is not so shiny and successful, Japanese businessmen and the Japanese economy have become a bit deflated yet everyone still lives in hope for success in the future, just like Watanabe in this story.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    It's me, not you. Typical short stories. I thought I'd might like them and feel like back in Tokyo. I didn't feel like back in Tokyo.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Model T Frankenstein by Hideo Furukawa -- over abstract to the point of seeming shallow Picnic by Ekuni Kaori -- good story of a relationship that was never right and is quickly getting worse A House for Two by Mitsuyo Kakuta -- a story of a woman who is perhaps too attached to her mother. Well-developed narrator. Mummy by Banana Yoshimoto -- Pointlessly shocking. And I originally picked up this collection to read her! The Owl's Estate by Toshiyuki Horie -- an interesting story of how a certain gro Model T Frankenstein by Hideo Furukawa -- over abstract to the point of seeming shallow Picnic by Ekuni Kaori -- good story of a relationship that was never right and is quickly getting worse A House for Two by Mitsuyo Kakuta -- a story of a woman who is perhaps too attached to her mother. Well-developed narrator. Mummy by Banana Yoshimoto -- Pointlessly shocking. And I originally picked up this collection to read her! The Owl's Estate by Toshiyuki Horie -- an interesting story of how a certain group of foreigners relate to Japan, but the narrator has that unexamined 'male lit prof describes women as though he is herpetologist' thing going on that is so often a turn-off for me. Dad, I love You by Nao-Cola Yamazaki -- about 'giving it your all' despite, well, everything. Fine, didn't make a huge impression on me. Dreamy atmosphere. Mambo by Hitomi Kanehara -- Avoid confusion and disconnection and sexuality. Can't put my finger on this one. Vortex by Osamu Hashimoto -- on reliving your childhood. Very melancholic. Liked this a lot. The Hut on the Roof -- A working-class neighbourhood becomes too interested in the narrator's life, and in return, she gets too interested in the man who lives in a hut on the roof of the fishmonger's. Quite liked this! An Elevator on Sunday by Shuichi Yoshida -- about a sort of good-for-nothing who is reflecting on a lost relationship. Solid.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Istvan Zoltan

    I liked the volume overall. There were three great names whom I've already known since I've read books by Banana Yoshimoto, Kaori Ekuni, and Hiromi Kawakami. Interestingly, their stories were the least interesting for me. This gave me the feeling that their stories were less popular and known ones, and they were partly selected for having to do something with Tokyo (vaguely) and for being popular names. Overall the stories could almost be set in any bigger Japanese city - Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Gifu I liked the volume overall. There were three great names whom I've already known since I've read books by Banana Yoshimoto, Kaori Ekuni, and Hiromi Kawakami. Interestingly, their stories were the least interesting for me. This gave me the feeling that their stories were less popular and known ones, and they were partly selected for having to do something with Tokyo (vaguely) and for being popular names. Overall the stories could almost be set in any bigger Japanese city - Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Gifu, Fukuoka, etc. would all do just as well as the setting. The fact that the stories are set in Tokyo itself plays little role in the narratives. However overall about Japan and life in Japan the stories are reflexive and revealing. Especially the pieces by Mitsuyo Kakuta dealing with life with parents and without a partner (A house for two), Osamu Hashimoto's story about an older woman facing the task of reinventing herself after her children have left home (Vortex), and a narrative capturing the growing divide between the educated and the working class (An elevator on Sunday) are remarkable. Altogether, I would say the volume was worth reading and interesting. To someone interested in current Japanese literature I would maybe rather recommend one of Hiromi Kawakami's novels, or Yoko Ogawa's stories, and shorter, very entertaining novels by others.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tamsien West (Babbling Books)

    Solid 3.5 stars. Rating a short story collection is always difficult but given there were only a few stand-out stories for me amongst them middle-of-the-road is where I am at right now. The Book of Tokyo is a collection of stories by Japanese authors of varying recognition in the English speaking world, though many of them appear to have had successful careers in Japan but little in translation to date. Banana Yoshimoto is the name most English speaking readers will recognise, but despite my love Solid 3.5 stars. Rating a short story collection is always difficult but given there were only a few stand-out stories for me amongst them middle-of-the-road is where I am at right now. The Book of Tokyo is a collection of stories by Japanese authors of varying recognition in the English speaking world, though many of them appear to have had successful careers in Japan but little in translation to date. Banana Yoshimoto is the name most English speaking readers will recognise, but despite my love of her other work hers was not my favourite story. All the tales are set in and around Tokyo, some with more emphasis on the location and some merely alluding to it. Because the collection is centered around a place there is a huge variety in terms of genre, style and approach, with even less continuity than other themed collections I have read. I have found a couple of authors whose work I will look out for, so I think overall this was a success. I would recommend it for those interested in dipping their toe into contemporary Japanese literature but are not quite sure where to start. I was going to include a brief wrap-up of each of the stories, but Goodreads has somehow lost all my notes. So unfortunately this review ends here.

  17. 4 out of 5

    World Literature Today

    "In his introduction, Michael Emmerich (see WLT, May 2010, 15–17) describes the collection as drawing what may be a more conceptual than physical vision of Tokyo, so it isn’t any surprise that each story doesn’t devote its greatest attention to physical descriptions of the city. But Tokyo is more than present enough to justify the book’s title and, in some instances, is rendered vividly, as are the interior worlds of the characters." - Michelle Johnson, Managing Editor. To read this review in its "In his introduction, Michael Emmerich (see WLT, May 2010, 15–17) describes the collection as drawing what may be a more conceptual than physical vision of Tokyo, so it isn’t any surprise that each story doesn’t devote its greatest attention to physical descriptions of the city. But Tokyo is more than present enough to justify the book’s title and, in some instances, is rendered vividly, as are the interior worlds of the characters." - Michelle Johnson, Managing Editor. To read this review in its entirety, visit World Literature Today online at http://www.worldliteraturetoday.org/2...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Teo

    A collection of quirky, weird, sometimes very weird, but also somehow sensible short stories by various writers that doesn't necessarily make you feel like you're strolling through Tokyo, but does feel very Japanese, intriguing and captivating. Banana Yashimoto's "Mummy" is a well written, thriller- short story, and the last three stories of the book, "Vortex", "The hut on the roof" and "An elevator on Sunday" also stayed with me.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    This was a nice little collection of stories, all set in Tokyo. I particularly liked A House for Two, Vortex, and The Hut on the Roof. I'm a little disappointed that it looks like tracking down English translations of Osamu Hashimoto's other writings is going to be difficult.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katsuro Ricksand

    This was a delightful collection of stories. Highly recommended for anybody who's interested in contemporary Japanese fiction.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Laurel

    These quirky short stories made some good light reading. That said, none of them are so memorable as I expected from some of the most well-known contemporary Japanese authors.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ro

    I think this collection of short stories is somewhat missold as "The Book of Tokyo" - I didn't get much of a sense of the city in most of them, it's usually just there as an unassuming backdrop. I'm only giving this 3 stars as most of the short stories in the collection haven't left an impression on me, to the extent that I had to struggle to remember what they were about when going back over the titles a day or two later. However, I liked getting exposed to more Japanese authors, and there were I think this collection of short stories is somewhat missold as "The Book of Tokyo" - I didn't get much of a sense of the city in most of them, it's usually just there as an unassuming backdrop. I'm only giving this 3 stars as most of the short stories in the collection haven't left an impression on me, to the extent that I had to struggle to remember what they were about when going back over the titles a day or two later. However, I liked getting exposed to more Japanese authors, and there were a couple I really liked and have introduced me to new authors: 'Dad, I love you' and 'Mamba.' 'Dad, I love you' by Nao-Cola Yamazaki is simple tale about not too much, conducted on the surface of things, with references to weightier matters but no excavation, e.g. why did his wife leave him? why is his step-daughter with him rather that her mum? (why does the moon seem to have different diameters different nights?), and with undramatised confrontation of suicidal thoughts. I like how this is baldly done, with no attempt to mine under the surface. I really enjoyed the writing style and mix of images and the old couple's conversation in the cafe. 'Mamba' by Hitomi Kanehara is narrated by an extremely unreliable narrator, and is a direct, bizarre and sexually explicit meditation on her predicament (sexual obsession in the main), as well as an exchange of philosophies on masculinity with a divorcee in a taxi cab. I love how direct and absurd this is. I also found 'Delira' online, another short story by Kanehara published in Granta. This is a related story, featuring the same main character before the episode in Mamba. It's not as good though, so I recommend reading 'Mamba'! https://granta.com/delira/

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jake_reads_books

    So I was in Waterstones in Manchester, the biggest one I've been in. It has a whole shop-sized room dedicated to sci-fi/fantasy/all the books I like. I was about to leave and saw it's Japan section. I'd read most of them that weren't about manga so I picked up this beautiful book. I love this cover. I'm a sucker for this sort of graphic design and the prospect of reading some short fiction from leading Japanese authors really intrigued me. ⁣ ⁣ I've experienced some Japanese fiction that is not lik So I was in Waterstones in Manchester, the biggest one I've been in. It has a whole shop-sized room dedicated to sci-fi/fantasy/all the books I like. I was about to leave and saw it's Japan section. I'd read most of them that weren't about manga so I picked up this beautiful book. I love this cover. I'm a sucker for this sort of graphic design and the prospect of reading some short fiction from leading Japanese authors really intrigued me. ⁣ ⁣ I've experienced some Japanese fiction that is not like Western fiction at all; there's no beginning, middle and end, just a snapshot of a bigger story. Each of the stories in this anthology fell decidedly into that category and it made me angry. ⁣ There was one story that was reminiscent of The Convenience Store Woman and I liked that one, but even the story by Banana Yoshimoto left me unsatisfied.⁣ ⁣ There's a reason why we've been telling stories like we do since the ancient Greeks - it works. These stories are ok, the settings are all in and around Tokyo and each is very different. They all have one thing in common: there's no payoff. The stories just end. That works for horror short stories like the Books of Blood because you're left wondering if the protagonist is safe, but it doesn't work here. ⁣ I was just left feeling very confused and very empty after reading these stories. No a great way to finish a book. ⁣

  24. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I picked up this book while I was in Japan Center at Kinokuniya Books. I am deeply interested in Japan and her culture, so I thought it would be a good read for me. To be honest, I didn't really enjoy most of the stories, with the exception of Dad I Love You (my favorite of the book) and A House for Two (which was enjoyable enough). The other stories were lacking, or just plain confusing(looking at you Model T. Frankenstein!), and I totally skipped over Mambo after reading the first line of the I picked up this book while I was in Japan Center at Kinokuniya Books. I am deeply interested in Japan and her culture, so I thought it would be a good read for me. To be honest, I didn't really enjoy most of the stories, with the exception of Dad I Love You (my favorite of the book) and A House for Two (which was enjoyable enough). The other stories were lacking, or just plain confusing(looking at you Model T. Frankenstein!), and I totally skipped over Mambo after reading the first line of the story, knowing it wasn't a story for me. Ultimately, I don't think I would reread any of these stories with the exception of Dad I Love You and maybe A House For Two. I was a little disappointed, as this was my first experience with Japanese literature, and sadly I'm not very optimistic about reading more in the future.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Pablo

    A collection of short stories by different Japanese authors. For me the style of the stories follows what I have experienced with other books from Japanese authors. You are reading a slice in time through the stream of consciousness of one of the characters. Which makes it for me a type of reading you need to immerse yourself into, you are sitting inside the head of the character, you in a way are sort of a spirit inside the body or the room, living in the story. It has a oneiric feeling. If you A collection of short stories by different Japanese authors. For me the style of the stories follows what I have experienced with other books from Japanese authors. You are reading a slice in time through the stream of consciousness of one of the characters. Which makes it for me a type of reading you need to immerse yourself into, you are sitting inside the head of the character, you in a way are sort of a spirit inside the body or the room, living in the story. It has a oneiric feeling. If you are used to reading American writers you may feel the story lacks a definitive ending or it is extremely descriptive, and funny thing, food is almost a character of its own in the stories. If you pass that, it is a quite enjoyable reading.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Madonna Stephens

    A great collection of short stories. A few ideas that transcend cultures. The story of the Japanese French-book lover being sought out by the French woman was brilliant and relatable in terms of the love of books and the love of the language and culture. Was my favourite short story. Although the life changing moment in this book for me was reading about one of the translators - who works at the local university. A lecturer in Japanese who has a PhD in fairy tale transformations... I am utterly A great collection of short stories. A few ideas that transcend cultures. The story of the Japanese French-book lover being sought out by the French woman was brilliant and relatable in terms of the love of books and the love of the language and culture. Was my favourite short story. Although the life changing moment in this book for me was reading about one of the translators - who works at the local university. A lecturer in Japanese who has a PhD in fairy tale transformations... I am utterly intrigued and I feel this requires further investigation into how I can further my own studies in Japanese.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I do struggle to keep momentum up with short story compilations and this one was no exception. But I picked it up again recently after reading the first few stories a while back. I really enjoy the slightly distant feeling I get from reading Japanese translations, whilst at the same time each story gives an often intimate insight into the life of an individual (with little human details and observations that strike familiar chords). And once I got into the swing of it, I started to enjoy the see I do struggle to keep momentum up with short story compilations and this one was no exception. But I picked it up again recently after reading the first few stories a while back. I really enjoy the slightly distant feeling I get from reading Japanese translations, whilst at the same time each story gives an often intimate insight into the life of an individual (with little human details and observations that strike familiar chords). And once I got into the swing of it, I started to enjoy the seemingly random end point of several of these stories, leaving me pondering... what happened next? An enjoyable collection for any Tokyo lovers and Japanophiles.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Robert Gebhardt

    I just discovered this "City in Short Fiction" series, so I'm curious about some of the other books in the series. Anyway, this was a collection of short stories, some better than others, as is to be expected. My favorites were: Dad, I love you Vortex The Hut on the Roof (by Hiromi Kawakami) My opinions (without spoilers) Model T Frankenstein was odd but cool I think Picnic was over my head, and there was probably more to it than I gathered A House for Two weirded me out Mummy (by Banana Yoshimoto) als I just discovered this "City in Short Fiction" series, so I'm curious about some of the other books in the series. Anyway, this was a collection of short stories, some better than others, as is to be expected. My favorites were: Dad, I love you Vortex The Hut on the Roof (by Hiromi Kawakami) My opinions (without spoilers) Model T Frankenstein was odd but cool I think Picnic was over my head, and there was probably more to it than I gathered A House for Two weirded me out Mummy (by Banana Yoshimoto) also weirded me out The Owl's Estate was ok Mambo was odd. Didn't really enjoy it frankly An Elevator on Sunday was good. I might almost include amongst my favorites

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rabelo

    This book is a mixed bag of stories as any anthology will inevitably be. However, the first stories, be it for editorial choice or mere providence, are the best it has to offer. With my favorite being Mummy, Model T Frankenstein, the Owls state and Dad I love you which have crazy developments you’ll go back and read that particular sentence again so you’re sure of what you read, they’re truly peak Japanese literature. The last 4 or 3 stories In the chronological sequence are much weaker than the This book is a mixed bag of stories as any anthology will inevitably be. However, the first stories, be it for editorial choice or mere providence, are the best it has to offer. With my favorite being Mummy, Model T Frankenstein, the Owls state and Dad I love you which have crazy developments you’ll go back and read that particular sentence again so you’re sure of what you read, they’re truly peak Japanese literature. The last 4 or 3 stories In the chronological sequence are much weaker than the rest and missable. But this book is very much worth the read for those five initial stories.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kaycie Hall

    I bought this at the branch of Kinokuniya near Bryant Park the week that I got back from Japan. I felt homesick for Tokyo, have already read all of Murakami’s work and was looking for something to ease it. I loved this collection and would recommend it. I found all of the stories to be enjoyable and didn’t skip over any of them but my favorites were: A House for Two, Mummy, The Owl’s Estate, and Dad, I Love You.

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