Japanese Literature Challenge 8

I’m so excited for the Japanese Literature Challenge 8 to begin! Like the Woman Waiting For The Moon above, I’m waiting for the thrill that reading Japanese literature brings to me, especially when shared with others.
Eight years ago, when I hosted the first Japanese Literature Challenge, I hadn’t read many of the most famous authors, and now I feel compelled to introduce some of them to you. Probably you know of Haruki Murakami, Yukio Mishima, and Banana Yoshimoto. But, how about Kaikō Takeshi, Taishi Yamada, or Keigo Higashino? Or, the delightful Japanese/American children’s author, Cynthia Kadohata, whose books have won a John Newbery medal and the National Book Award?
I have set up the Japanese Literature Challenge Review Site here, where you will see in the sidebar a list of authors I’m going to highlight for each month of the challenge:
June: Kaikō Takeshi (a prominent post WWII writer who won the Akutagawa prize in 1957)
July: Ryunosuke Akutagawa (known as the father of the Japanese short story)
August: Keigo Higashino (known primarily for his mystery novels; Naoko was one of my favorite books last year)
September: Haruki Murakami (a contemporary Japanese writer whose books have been translated in 50 languages and sold in the millions)
October: Yukio Mishima ( a 20th century writer nominated three times for the Nobel prize)
November: Yasunari Kawabata (first Japanese author to win the Nobel prize “for his narrative mastery, which with great sensibility expresses the essence of the Japanese mind”. Nobel prize 
December: Natsume Sōseki (a novelist of the Meiji period (September 1868 through July 1912) whose writing has had a profound impact on almost all Japanese writers)
January: Banana Yoshimoto (a writer who claims that her two themes are “the exhaustion of young Japanese in contemporary Japan” and “the way in which terrible experiences shape a person’s life.”)
I will highlight a novel from each author for each month, which I invite you to read with me if you choose. Or, you could choose another book by the same author so we can compare. Or, you can read none of the books by the author of the month and venture out on your on course. Click here for a list of suggested titles in case you’d like a few.
During the month of September, I propose a group read-along of Haruki Murakami’s latest book Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Year of Pilgrimage. The book will be released in English on August 12, 2014, and I’d love for anyone to join me in reading it during September. 

There are also some wonderful prizes to be given away through the course of the challenge. Naxos Audio is giving away two audio books. One is The Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of The World by Haruki Murakami. The other is a book of poems entitled Narrow Road to The Interior & Hojoki. Tuttle publishers have sent me several books which I will review and give away. One is Natsume Soseki’s famous book, Botchan, another is Kaiko Takeshi’s book, Darkness of Summer which I will begin to start off this challenge.
Updates will occur on this blog as the Japanese Literature Challenge progresses. Links to the books you’ve read may be left on the review site for us to enjoy. Please join in with me as we explore more of what Japanese literature has to offer. All that is required is to read one work of Japanese literature from now until January, 2015. Simply leave your name below and I will sign you up.
(p.s. Don’t be deterred if you are participating in the Paris in July challenge, and/or the Spanish Lit Month challenge, as am I. They are both in July, and the Japanese Literature Challenge lasts all the way through January, 2015. There’s plenty of time to read Japanese literature from August on. Also, mark your calendars now for Tony’s January in Japan.)
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59 comments

  1. This looks really exciting. I don't really know much about Japanese Literature. Murakami and Yoshimoto are the only Japanese authors I've ever read. I'm looking forward to your upcoming posts.

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  2. I am so excited about this! I have taken a break from reading Japanese literature in February, after Tony's challenge and I definitely miss going back to a different type of writing that seems to suit me more and more each year. What will you be reading from Kawabata? I have “Beauty and Sadness” waiting to be read…

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  3. Thank you, Rise, for joining in again with me. I wonder, in it's eighth year, how much interest there will be. But, as you said in your comment it's good for us “constants” to continue on together.

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  4. Ally , I'm so glad to have your enthusiasm! I'm not certain yet what I will read of Kawabata's, but I'm glad to hear you have Beauty and Sadness. It's so good to be reading Japanese with you again!

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  5. I don't remember if I've ever officially taken part, but I definitely am this year. I have some Japanese titles on my TBR and a goal to read more diversely in 2014, so it's a magical combo.

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  6. Great – I'm certainly signing up for it this year, as I was eyeing it with envy last year! I may not always be reading the same authors though, as I have a pile of books I've just ordered to get through, but you can be pretty sure that Murakami, Keigo Higashino, Natsume Soseki and Mishima will be on my list. I used to worship Mishima when I was 19/20 – have calmed down a little now!

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  7. That sounds like a pretty hefty list, Marina Sofia! So glad we'll have the chance to read Japanese literature together. (I've never been quite so passionate about Mishima, although I like him quite a bit. Haruki Murakami is the one who first stole my heart.)

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  8. Bellezza, this is a favorite annual reading challenge of mine. You are so organized, and the new JLC sounds absolutely wonderful. Not sure yet what I'll choose to read, but I am nearly certain that I will participate.

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  9. Suko, glad to have you join in again! I'm trying to be organized, trying to be efficient in the course of the challenge. We'll see how that works out. 😉

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  10. I'm definitely in, and I'm excited to be starting at the beginning of this iteration of the challenge. Thanks for hosting!

    I have a number of Japanese titles planned for the year that I've been saving since the end of the last challenge, so I'm ready to go. I am going to try to read and review one title a month so I don't get behind on my other challenges. (Luckily, I am able to cross-count most of the titles I'm planning, so double yay!) 🙂

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  11. Emma, thanks so much for joining again. I plan to do it very seriously as well; last year, I somehow became rather distracted. This year I think I can manage at least one book a month. 😉

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  12. I tend to save up the titles I want to read for the challenge as well. Cross counting the titles is a wonderful serendipity! Welcome to another year of Japanese literature together.

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  13. I just checked that the last Japanese novel that I read was in 2008 (!) when I was still in Asia, so I feel that it's about time to dust off the Japanese books on my shelves. This year will be the year I rejoin your lovely Japanese lit challenge, yay! 🙂

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  14. I haven't read The Elephant Vanishes, though I've read most of what Murakami has written. I can't wait to get Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage in my hands! Anyway, so glad to have you join us, Jacqui, for your first Japanese literature challenge experience. I hope you find it wonderful.

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  15. Bellezza, you know I'm in! How exciting 🙂 I'm sorry I didn't respond sooner to this post, but I've been ill and haven't been up to much of anything these past few days. Reading this post has definitely cheered me up and I love your idea of focusing on a specific author each month. Can't wait to join in on all of the fun!

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  16. I will be joining in again. Last year I only read one book, this year I hope I will read more. And I hope to include one from the list of authors you are featuring. It will probably be July before I get a book read for the challenge.

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  17. Nadia, I'm sorry you haven't been feeling well. Can't wait to join in together, either, and I'm hoping we can read Murakami's latest together in August/September. xo

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  18. Welcome to another round, Tracy. “Only” one book is still more than many people do in one year (of this genre), and all that is required. If you get to more, great. 🙂

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  19. Yes, I'm in Bellezza! My first reading challenge in a long time 😀 I also plan on reading along with Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Year of Pilgrimage — I actually already own a copy in Dutch! But I'll wait for you 😉

    I haven't done a sign-up post yet on Graasland; will reply here once I have. I'm starting today with The Teacher's Briefcase by Hiromi Kawakami (in Dutch).

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  20. This is an interesting event. I would quite like to challenge myself to reading a couple of books – particularly if there are no really hard and fast deadlines. Plus I'm interested in the readalong so I'll make a note of that for September.
    Thanks
    Lynn 😀

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  21. I'm so happy you're participating again, Robin, after all these years! I think you were a part of the very first one. Thanks for writing a post about it, too. Here's to reading lots of good Japanese literature together!

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  22. I know what you mean about being busy! There's much going on this summer (so I'm glad this challenge goes on into the Winter). Still, it's so fun to read together. I'm glad you're joining in.

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  23. Absolutely, A Tale for The Time Being qualifies.it is a work I've been meaning to read myself,since the last Japanese Literature Challenge. Hope this means you'll join in, Edgar. 🙂

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  24. Love this challenge & will follow from the sidelines at the moment reading Rui Murakami's Coin Locker Babies. Would heartily recommend In Praise of Shadows by Junichero Tanizaki a wonderful little book on aesthetics & philosophy.

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  25. I sorely miss your presence, and am so glad to see your comment here. It will be good to have you participate even from the sidelines as a viewer. :). I was quite touched by Coin Locker Babies, and gave my only copy away as a prize one year. But I remember feeling quite an affinity for those boys, the reason for which I can tell you later. Thanks for the recommendation of In Praise of Shadows.

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  26. I would love to join the Challenge again and especially the Colorless Tsukuru read-a-long. I've just finished it but will gladly go over it again and write my thoughts. I'd also love to discuss it with those participating. Please count me in!

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  27. I just spotted this on Tamara's webpage & I'd like to jump on board if it's not too late.

    I bought my book on the 12th, but only started reading it on Monday night, after drooling over the stickers for days!

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