My very first experience in reading literary creations written by a Japanese-descent was Haruki Murakami’s ‘Kafka on the Shore’. And I must tell you the truth that it was not really a pleasant reading experience because previously my reads were dominated by realistic genre and surely, as you probably knew, ‘Kafka on the Shore’ is absolutely on the opposite site from what I usually read.
But after I read several of his works, such as ‘Norwegian Wood’ and ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage’, I noticed that magical realism and surrealistic tone in many of his works was maybe introduced to create a distinct environment and give a more impact to the readers. I am somewhat fascinated and deeply involved to his story not because of his plot or some bizarre events in his story, but because of his remarkable ability to describe every character’s emotional state, how he create a mysterious nuance just using the dialogues, and how he explains the significance of the seemingly insignificant aspects of human life. After realized this, Murakami become one of my favorite authors and I’m planning to read more of his works in the near future.
But of course, Japanese literature is not only Murakami, and in fact Murakami’s works were sometimes being criticized as un-Japan and too Western-ish. One thing that’s true for me, reading Murakami has increased my interest to read more Japanese literary (or J-Lit) works, both contemporary (like Murakami) and classics (such as Jun’ichiro Tanizaki, Kobo Abe, and Nobel Literature Laureates Kenzaburo Oe). So, coincides with my increasing interest to Japanese literature, I found a suitable reading challenge for me: Japanese Literature Reading Challenge which is hosted by Casual Book Reader. You may also join this challenge as well, the ground rules and point system can be seen at her master post (she also offers a giveaway which make you a little bit more interested to join this challenge).
I agreed to accompany her to read as many Japanese literature as we can in this year of 2016. I, as I previously mentioned, have read several Japanese literary works (unfortunately all of them are Murakami’s) and am planning to add some in this year. Here is my reading list for this challenge.
Contemporary Japanese literature:
- ‘Kafka on the Shore’ (Haruki Murakami)
- ‘Norwegian Wood’ (Haruki Murakami)
- ‘After Dark’ (Haruki Murakami)
- ‘1Q84’ (Haruki Murakami)
- ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage’ (Haruki Murakami)
- ‘The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle’ (Haruki Murakami)
- ‘Dance Dance Dance’ (Haruki Murakami)
- ‘Never Let Me Go’ (Kazuo Ishiguro)
- ‘An Artist of the Floating World’ (Kazuo Ishiguro)
Classic Japanese literature:
- ‘The Key‘ (Jun’ichiro Tanizaki)
- ‘The Face of Another’ (Kobo Abe)
- Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids’ (Kenzaburo Oe)
- ‘Snow Country’ (Yasunari Kawabata)
Well, of course the list might have changed following my reading progress. Currently I’m reading Murakami’s acclaimed novel ‘The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle’ which is around 600 pages thick and am expecting to give a review soon. I’ll regularly update this post and link it to the reviews that I will write.
Do join this challenge, I promise Japanese literature will give you a new (and an exciting) reading experience.