It’s time to begin thinking about the Japanese Literature Challenge 13

One of the greatest joys of blogging, for me, is the opportunity to share Japanese literature with one another. Judging by the inquiries I begin receiving in November and December, it appears that many bloggers who remember it, as well as some who have heard of it, are also eager to begin again.

The idea began in 2006, when ‘challenges’ were quite common in the blogging world. They gave an opportunity to meet like-minded readers and to participate in reading endeavors that thrilled us all. To make this event less of a challenge, and more of a pleasure, I decided that all we needed to do was read at least one work of literature, originally written in Japanese, and review it on our blogs. Now there is the broader impact of social media with Twitter and Instagram, and so those platforms are welcome, too. The idea is, take January through March to read as much Japanese literature as you would like, and tell us about what you read.

When I put up an official welcome post, I will specify the hashtags we should use (how about #JapaneseLitChallenge13?) on social media, and a place where you can leave a link to your reviews.

Some of the books that I plan on reading are:

An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro (Vintage International). This novel was sent to my by dear Silvia a few months ago, and it is one of the few by Ishiguro I have not yet read.

Another novel I plan to read was just sent to me yesterday: The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda (Bitter Lemon Press). It won the 59th Mystery Writers of Japan Award for Best Novel, and it will be published on January 16, 2020 in the UK (February 15, 2020 in the US).

I also have hopes to read The Makioka Sisters by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, and The Hunting Gun by Yasushi Inoue.

If you are looking for titles, here is a list of books read from years past: suggested titles for Japanese literature. It is, of course, only a jumping off place and by no means complete. And, as this is simply a “begin thinking about it” post, I welcome any ideas you have to incorporate this time around. A read-along title? A favorite work of yours? A dedicated place for reviews such as I used to use in 2013? Please feel free to let me know what you’re thinking in the comments below, and know that I welcome your participation in January.

67 thoughts on “It’s time to begin thinking about the Japanese Literature Challenge 13”

  1. Bellezza, thank you for this wonderful post. Your books look tempting. I have been thinking about this challenge as well, although I have not been posting much. I should like to get a copy of Convenience Store Woman, if it’s available in paperback, to read and review for this challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Suko, you are a faithful friend! I loved Convenience Store Woman. It is one of the few best sellers that deserves to be (in my opinion), so I highly recommend it.

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        1. Although I have read (and loved!) Banana Yoshimoto And Shusaku Endo, I have read neither title you mentioned here,

          Of Endo, I have only read Wonderful Fool and Silence.of Banana Yoshimoto, I have only read Kitchen, N.P., and something else I can’t remember.

          It’s exciting for me to learn of new titles I haven’t heard of before. Thank you.

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  2. I was so looking forward to this challenge 🙂 I read the Aosawa Murders a couple of weeks ago, and I’m really curious to see what others think of it. I’ll definitely start thinking of my challenge reading list sooner rather than later.

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    1. I’m so glad you’ve already read the Aosawa Murders! Looking forward to talking about it with you, as well as seeing the rest of your list. It’s really nice to have you in for another round again, Akylina.

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  3. I would love to participate in your challenge this year – great poster for it, too! At some point I would love to read The Makioka Sisters and The Hunting Gun, but maybe not for the next three months. I’ll probably start with Yukio Mishima and his Thirst for Love.

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  4. I’m one of those looking forward to this challenge. I’ll try to read as many Japanese titles as possible, and blog and post about them using the suggested tag.

    I hope you get to read The Artist and also The Makioka Sisters. But anything you read, I’m always looking forward to reading your thoughts on it. The cover of The Aosawa Murders is arrestingly beautiful. I love the pictures you take of your books.

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    1. Silvia, you are one of the main reasons I have decided to carry on with the Japanese Literature Challenge 13. I have almost dropped the ball with blogging, and I have not even finished Moby Dick yet. (!) I’m not sure what happened to my interest in reading in general, but I suspect this will renew much of my passion for literature. It was so wonderful to “meet” you and discuss Melville together.

      I will begin with An Artist From A Floating World, and then the Aosawa Murders…hopefully, I will get to The Makioka Sisters, too, as I recall we were going to have a chat about that.

      I’m looking forward to the books you will choose, and the discussions we will have.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Trust me, my reading life has shrank this second half of 2019 and I don’t know why. I too am taking your challenge as a motivation. I’m going to love the conversation on all we have read and will read.

        I will do a post soon once I look at your blog, my shelves, etc.

        Anytime I see your posts pop up I love it.

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  5. I always look forward to this part of the year in the blogging world. I love translated Japanese literature, and I love that there are so many of us out there in the world!

    Another thing I look forward to is your poster for the challenge. Always so beautiful.

    I’ve got plans for a Murakami this time. I’ve spent many years saving his work, and maybe this is the perfect opportunity to get to know his work again. I’m thinking maybe “Kafka on the Shore”. And maybe even “Kokoro”, it’s been on my TBR for ages.

    I’m glad you’ll be reading “An Artist of the Floating World”. I read that a while ago, and will be keen to know what you think about it, too.

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    1. Michelle, you are so sweet to revisit Japanese literature with me via the Challenge. Thank you for your faithfulness, and the compliment on the button. Japanese art is as beautiful as their writing!

      How I love Murakami. I have read Kafka on the Shore many times, and yet I am always eager to read it again. It is, perhaps, my favorite of all of his novels. And, it is so enigmatic, I never tire of finding some new insight (even if I’ve made it up myself).

      I gather many of us will have a chance to comment on An Artist of the Floating World, as so many of “you” have already read it.

      xo

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      1. I’ve never actually reread any of Murakami’s books so far. Except his running book, which, like you, I found new insight during my second reading. Maybe it’s a thing with Murakami, and maybe that’s why we love him so much.

        I’ve come to realise over the years that sometimes our taste in books change as we go through stuff in life, and I’m just curious if my appetite for Murakami has changed since. Am excited!

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    1. I was so glad to see you doing this challenge. This time is the first time I think I’m minding the tags, thanks to Bellezza’s explanation, and your post with them. I’m working on mine now, and I’m very excited to read and converse about all the Japanese gems we’ll be reading.

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  6. My day off work today & I can’t wait to trawl my bookshelves to see which books I’d like to fit into this challenge 🙂

    On an admin level, I’ve been thinking about my AusReadingMonth and how exhausted it leaves me by the end of Nov. Spotting your challenge again has prompted me to think about extending it into a 3 mnth event. Why did you choose 3 mnths as the length? And how do you feel at the end of each challenge? Just wondering…..

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    1. Brona! I’m so glad you’re going to join in!

      And, I have a question for you on an admin level. But first let me answer yours. I understand being exhausted after hosting a Challenge; I was especially so when I gave away prizes in the early years. Just keeping track of everyone’s links can be tricky.

      I did a 3 month challenge because I wanted it to be long enough to suit people’s needs. (Maybe the one month I hosted wouldn’t fit their schedule.) I also “required” one book because I didn’t want the challenge to be onerous, but doable. Usually, of course, people read many more than one.

      I used to have a dedicated site for the challenge when I was on the Blogspot platform. But, when I switched to WordPress, I thought it would be easier to keep everything connected to my blog. I’m not sure that it is (easier). Which leads me to ask about InLinkz which I see you use for the Moby Dick read-along.

      I signed up for a “link party”, got the URL, HTML, etc, but is that what you use for people to leave links? I’d value any input, and please know I would answer any questions if I didn’t above.

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  7. I love this challenge but never participate. I just don’t do well with challenges of any kind. I hope you all read some really good books for this.

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  8. This is exciting! I found this challenge (and your blog) via Instagram. I will probably join in. 🙂 (Also…An Artist of the Floating is really good, so glad to see others reading it!)

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    1. Welcome, Marian! I have a very small presence on Instagram, so I’m glad this Challenge came to your attention. An Artist in the Floating World will be my first novel in January, and it seems many people have already read it, so I look forward to the discussion which may occur. Thank you for visiting here and considering joining.

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  9. I found out about your Japanese Lit Challenge from Silvia’s blog and so I hopped on over here to visit. I love this idea and would like to participate! I’m thinking over titles, but right now two have risen to the top: The Makioka Sisters (which I haven’t read) and re-reading The Remains of the Day. I was also considering A Pale View of Hills by Ishiguro but I’m thinking I will opt to re-read The Remains of the Day. For now, I think I will just focus on one title. Which makes me lean heavily towards The Makioka Sisters as my first read. I think a read-along for it would be great! Another title that has grabbed my interest that Silvia mentioned in her post is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami.

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    1. Hi, Karen! Trust our Silvia to be a good sharer of books, and I’m so glad you hoped over from her blog. Even better, that you will join us! Every year The Makioka Sisters is brought to my attention, and I have yet to read it. Perhaps 2020 will be the year I do. I think focusing on just one book is a good idea for you; we don’t want to turn joy into a job. And then, I do love The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles….that would be a lovely read, especially to discuss, as Murakami can be so ambiguous. At any rate, welcome!

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  10. I’ve to think about this one. I want to do something different… maybe a Japanese novel which is turned into a film. Any suggestions? Speaking of which, I’ve a recommendation for you on my current post: A Hidden Life.

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    1. I will have to look for a Japanese novel turned into film…Silence is the only one I know of! Something tells me The Woman In The Dunes was made a film, or Roshomon, but I will have to research.

      Loved the power of your post.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks. I know Makioka Sisters is also, and some of Murakami’s books. Think I’ll research some more too. Thanks for hosting JLC all these years, Bellezza.

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        1. I need to find Makioka Sisters movie. I’d love watching it. And while at it, after I read Roshomon, maybe that one too. Aww, so many Japanese lit, and movies, so little time! LOL

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          1. Arti, you are so welcome. It is a great joy to me to share Japanese literature together.

            Silvia, and others, I’m wondering if we should have a read-along of The Makioka Sisters in March? What do you think?

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            1. March through April I am co-hosting a read along of 100 years of solitude. But oh my, if I only read a handful of books in 2020, I am considering Makioka Sisters very seriously. It’s calling me back.

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            2. Would May be a good month? And I may very well be able to do just those two if we can protract Makioka from March through May. It’s so arrestingly beautiful. Some parts I remember reading them twice in that very moment, to savor them again. It has a plot, things happen, but not at novels speed but at the speed of life. And much of it is the happenings of another day. I want to read it right now.

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              1. Bellezza, would February work for a read-along of The Makioka Sisters by any chance? If not, I’m still planning on March. But February would be great if that could work. 🙂

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    2. You May Try :
      Durian Sekugawa with sweet bean Paste
      Kanae Minato with penance
      Murakami : Norwegian Wood (la ballade de l’impossible ) , Tony Takitani
      Hirokazu Kore-eda : Une affaire de famille ( Cannes 2018 )

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    1. I hope you do read one, an who knows? This could open a whole new passion for Japanese literature as it did with me when I began reading it years and years ago. It is great fun to share with others, too, as I find there can be many interpretations for just one book. The open quality ( no clear cut ending) is probably what appeals to me the most.

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  11. I’ll join you this year, Meredith. i have a surprising number of Japanese titles in the TBR. No idea where they came from! 🥺

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  12. Count me in, again, Meredith! I have two books on my list that I want to get to. They’ll fit this challenge perfectly! Thank you for hosting it again!

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  13. I will join this year. I read The Hunting Gun by Yasushi Inoue around November last year and it was a very memorable experience that I blogged about it and started hoarding books by Japanese writers. I hope to read at least three books during the challenge. Happy New Year!

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    1. Nancy, so glad you heard about the JLC13 and will be participating. How easy it is to hoard Japanese books (for me, too)! I’m looking forward to discussing The Hunting Gun with you when I’ve read it.

      Liked by 1 person

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