Japanese Literature Challenge 11: Welcome!

I can’t help but think of Japanese literature especially in the month of June, for that is when summer begins, and that is when I have always hosted the Japanese Literature Challenge. Mel U and I have been chatting on Twitter this morning, deciding that our stack of Japanese books calls our attention. I am looking forward to seeing what he has planned. (Here is a list of suggested titles from the Japanese Literature Challenge 9. Here is a post from Mel’s blog, The Reading Life, on getting started.)

I have received some lovely books as gifts, and for review, which are as follows:


Are You An Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko narrated and translated by a David Jacobson, Sally Ito and Michiko Tsuboi


The Gate by Natsume Soseki


Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami


Absolutely on Music by Haruki Murakami


The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon


The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide


The Amulet Series by Kazu Kibuishi (because my classes have loved them and I bought an autographed set when the author came to visit)

And, Europa Editions has just published The Nakano Gift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami this June.

So, I hope you will join us again this year, or perhaps for the first time. The challenge runs from June through January, “requiring” only one work (or more, if you choose) which has been originally written in Japanese. I have placed a challenge button on the bottom of my blog under which I will list the participants, as well as the titles and links to reviews you have read. I will also post updates every month highlighting the books we read. Please be sure to let me know in a comment below if you would like to participate, and/or when you have a book reviewed.

I’m looking forward to this time together!

78 thoughts on “Japanese Literature Challenge 11: Welcome!

    • So happy to have you, Melissa! I amended my post to say the challenge runs from June through January, so as to give us all enough time. Especially with the fun events in July such as Spanish Lit Month and Paris in July, not to mention German Lit Month in November and Women in Translation Month in August!) I’m looking forward to The Nakano Thrift Shop myself.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. M, I was wondering if you would host JLC again 🙂 I’m so happy you are. Japanese Literature is a favorite of mine and I so look forward to your event every year. I have several of the books you mention, so I’m definitely ready to begin JLC11. I was disappointed by the “new” Murakami book in that several of the short stories I’d already read (thanks to the New Yorker). Of course, I always love Murakami so I enjoyed re-reading them. I was actually thinking of re-reading WInd-Up or Kafka. I’ll definitely be joining in on the fun and enjoying reading everyone’s posts 🙂


    • Ah, my faithful friend, it is SO good to have your enthusiasm and participation. I would love to reread Kafka on The Shore or The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle! Perhaps we could co-host a read along in the fall? We’ll talk. xo


  2. Ah, thank you for reminding me of The Guest Cat. I own that one, and this will be the perfect reason to finally read it. What age group do you think The Amulet Series is appropriate for? Kid #2, who is going into 3rd grade, loves graphic novels, but I’m struggling to find ones that are appropriate for that age.


    • I have been meaning to read The Guest Cat for ages, and finally ordered it off of Amazon. This is the year for us!

      As for Amulet, I know that my third graders and fifth graders love it. But, the author spoke to sixth and seventh graders, and I even liked the first book. Other than a car crash in the beginning of the novel, which was a bit upsetting, there was no other violence.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Golly is it that time of the year already. Feels like I only just did the 2016 Japan lit challenge. But it just so happens I have a few titles on my shelves that would fit the bill this year so I’m in. First one I will be reading is  Goodbye Tsugumi by Banana Yoshimoto.


    • The books that participants read always stir up excitement, and there is much to choose from be it thriller or classical or somewhere in between. Perhaps you could peruse the suggested list linked in the post if you choose.


  4. This challenge was one of the first that I participated in when I started this blog, am so glad that it’s still running (and on it’s 11th edition too!). Will definitely be participating again this year. So looking forward to reading some Murakami, and perhaps Mishima too.


    • Michelle, I’m so glad you are participating again! I keep saving Murakami books to read, in case he quits writing new ones, but I have these two new ones added to my collection. Murakami and Mishima are wonderful choices.


  5. If it can wait till fall, I’d love to do this! I’m just a not busy with War and Peace at the moment. Perhaps ill read my first Murakami. I read that little secret library one, but I don’t think that counts…


    • No, I think the library one counts, but boy is that a weird book! Definitely not one of my favorites. Of course wait until you are ready, and since Nadia and Michelle and you have mentioned Murakami, I’m tossing around the idea of a read along in October. Perhaps Kafka on The Shore? Anyway, I’m so glad to have you along for the challenge!


      • Ooh! Kafka on the Shore is one of those Murakami books that I just haven’t been able to get to. Would love to have a read-along. Poke me when that happens? =)


    • It is at your prompting, Mel, that we are doing this again, and I’m glad you started the discussion on Twitter with me. I’m looking forward to your Tanazaki stories! I have only read the novel Naomi by him, but I do have a book of his entitled Seven Japanese Tales. Perhaps one of your stories will be in that collection, and I can read it, too!


  6. Bellezza! The new button, and this entire post, is so beautiful! And your selections are so tempting. Thank you for hosting this reading challenge again. It’s wonderful that Mel is also “on board”. I hope to post for it this year. 🙂


    • Love your enthusiasm, Susan, as always!! I’m adding you to the list of participants, as I’m sure you’ll find some enticing Japanese read before January. xoxo


  7. Great challenge, I appreciate. More difficult for me as in english – but – I hope to discover Japanese authors not translated into French !!
    Thanks to Emma for the link


  8. I am so looking forward to this! 🙂 My summer holiday is beginning this weekend and I am so thrilled I donot know what book to start or continue reading :)) Oh, I have read three of the books you have on your list, The Guest Cat (loved this one), the Thrift Shop (quite interesting) but I was not charmed by the Pillow Book… My post will be up in a few minutes 🙂 Happy reading!


    • I keep flipping through The Pillow Book, since I’ve begun the challenge in 2006, and haven’t yet read it! I am more willing to turn to more current literature, I think, when it comes to Japanese works. So very glad you are joining again, dear Ally. xo


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  10. Hi Meredith, I have no excuse not to join 😉 I have accumulated quite a big stack of Japanese literature & short stories. As you can see on my blog, I narrowed it down to a reasonable three, which does not mean I might not slip in a French language Yoko Ogawa, I have 4 which have never been translated into English.
    Yes, I love Haruki Murakami’s “Kafka on the Shore”, the lovely atmosphere stayed with me.
    I am reading an arc for Simon & Schuster “The Mountain” by Paul Yoon, he wrote two previous novels. He writes so beautifully, according to his bio, he was born in New York and I American, no mention of his Japanese heritage except in his writings.
    I hope you add me dear friend,
    Bon soir Meredith


    • Sylvia, hooray! How could there be a Japanese Literature Challenge without you?! I took a peek at the books in your sidebar, and they ALL look good. I’m off to leave a comment there, and of course I added you to the review site. xo

      Liked by 1 person

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  12. June’s gone, and I am sad I have missed it.

    I have read ‘The Guest Cat’, and it is one of the books I fully intend to reread. 🙂


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    • Juliana, I left a long comment on your beautiful post, but it didn’t seem to publish! I will try again…

      After trying many times, my comment would not stick to your post. So, here it is:
      I had left a rather long comment which did not take, and so I will try to recreate it here. As I was reading your beautiful review, I was thinking of the story of Ruth and Naomi from the Old Testament. This mother of a deceased son and her daughter in law have created an entirely different relationship than theirs, which was one of mutual support and the elk-being. It’s interesting to think about all ththe different kinds of relationships we read about.

      And also, I was thinking about the masks we wear as women in today’s culture. We put on masks of submission or power or even sexual identity; this novel seems so very applicable!

      Thank you for the excellent review, and the way that you always teach me something when I read about what you have read. I have added this to the review list. xo

      Perhaps you could paste it there if you wish, and I hope the problem resolves quickly!


  14. Hi Bellezza, I would love to join you all. I am starting with Natsuo Kirino’s ‘Out’. I will share the review as soon as I finish it. Thank you. 🙂


    • Wonderful, Deepika! I’m so glad to have you participate, and I remember well how fascinated I was with Out. It was one of the first books translated from Japanese that I ever read, and I was hooked! Hope you like it, too.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Deepika, you wrote a great review! I’m so glad you read it for th JLC 11 and hope that you will find other interesting reads along the way. Maybe it’s time for something not so bloody now, hm? 😮

      Liked by 1 person

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  18. This is wonderful! I have long intended to read this classic, but have not yet done so. I will link your review to the list of reviews; thank you for notifying me! There is no need to do anything more.


    • Henry, I have added all your links to the review site, and I thank you for leaving them. One small problem is that I can not figure out how to comment on your blog. I read your review of the first two, and would love to leave some thoughts, but can’t.


      • Hi Belleza, thank you for adding my reviews and for reading them! I’m sorry for my blog’s obtuse commenting system—to comment, you need a free Github account (https://github.com/). Opening a GitHub account just to leave a comment may be more trouble than it’s worth, so if it is not too much to ask, could you send your comments to henry@henryupton.com? With your permission, I can post them on the respective pages. I’m looking forward to reading your comments! Happy New Year 2018!


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