The Japanese Literature Challenge 14 (Coming January 2021)

I have been seeing posts of reading plans for 2021 on many of my friends’ blogs, and I hope that you will find time this coming year to join in the Japanese Literature Challenge now to begin its fourteenth year.

As in years past, it will run from January through March. We will read books in translation (unless you are able to read Japanese), and review them on our blogs. You may also choose to leave thoughts on social media with #JapaneseLitChallenge14. I have now set up a review site for you to leave links, as before.

Here are some of the titles, many coming in 2021, which I will review during the challenge:

Coming from Penguin Random House on April 6, 2021
Coming from Penguin Random House on March 2, 2021
Coming from Abrams Books on March 9, 2021
From Pan Macmillan on September 19, 2019
Breasts and Eggs took my breath away.” ~Haruki Murakami


Also, there will be a group read of Breasts and Eggs, by Mieko Kawakami who has been “hailed by Haruki Murakami as Japan’s most important contemporary novelist.” The novel also won the Akutagawa Prize.

I hope that you will join us this year, whether for the first time or the fourteenth. Please leave a comment if you’re interested in participating, so that I can add you to the review site.

96 thoughts on “The Japanese Literature Challenge 14 (Coming January 2021)”

  1. I’m so glad you’re doing this again! Although I wasn’t terribly active in posting last year, the Challenge was really instrumental in getting me to read works translated from Japanese for really the first time. It was a great experience, which I plan to continue for Challenge 14. And how exciting, to learn that Murakami and Ishiguro (one of my very favorite authors) have work coming out next year . . . . sign me up!

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    1. So glad you’re in for another round, Janakay! I remember having great talks with you about Japanese literature last year, so don’t say you weren’t terribly active. You always leave such insightful comments about what you’ve read.

      Isn’t it great to have a new Murakami collection, AND a new Ishiguro? Riches! I have the electronic copies now, but if I’m sent paper editions, I will offer them up as prizes.

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  2. I love that your selected books are Japanese, English, and Italian.

    I am joining in, but in that spirit possibly not with novels but with a couple of big art books I have been meaning to read for ages. The Hokusai book appears to be, by coincidence written, in Japanese, English, and Italian.

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    1. Japanese, English, and Italian… I know! Trust me, the host(ess) to bend the rules. I guess I should have written in the post that the book must have a vague connection to Japan. 😉

      I’m so glad you’re joining in, you know how I love reading with you, and what could be better than a couple of big art books?

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    1. It will be so fun to have you join in, Judy. It doesn’t have to be with a great, heavy volume…I can recommend something light, if you wish. Or, something with magical realism. Or, something avant-garde. Or, something mysterious. Just let me know.

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    1. I am eagerly looking forward to discussing Japanese literature with you, Deb! Thank you for inquiring about it yesterday; every year, I wonder if there is still interest, and it encouraged me to hear from you.

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  3. I would very much like to join this challenge. Despite their presence on my TBR, I have not read Murakami or Ishiguro. Thus is the perfect motivator for me.

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    1. I’m so glad you will join us this year. I do have a few favorite Murakami novels, if you would like any of my input, but of course, feel free to choose what appeals to you on your own.

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  4. M, you know I’m in. How could I not participate in your awesome JLC? I’ve had that Murakami on my list for some time, so I’m definitely reading it, along with a new one by Minae Mizumura called An I-Novel ( I think it’s a re-release, but I’m definitely looking forward to it.). I’ll have to see what else I want to dive into for the challenge. I’ve jotted down the Phone Booth title you mentioned. Thanks for this, M. I think we all need it and it will give us something fun to look forward to in 2021. Take care! xx

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    1. You are so encouraging, dear Nadia, with your enthusiasm. It IS nice to have something to look forward to in 2021, and it is especially nice to have your sweet presence year after year. Isn’t it fun to have three new titles, as well? I am not familiar with the Mizumura novel you mentioned, so I will be glad to hear your thoughts. As always. Xoxo

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    1. I know that Japanese literature is not a favorite of yours, dear Les, so thank you for commenting here! Perhaps The Phone Book at the Edge of The World will be especially appealing as it’s written by an Italian woman who has lived in Japan, and it is based on real life. I will let you know if I think you would like it. Xoxo

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    1. Yay that you’ll be joining in, Cathy! I’m so glad you were wondering about it, and are prepared to begin. When you and others say you have one or two books lined up, I’m just dying to know what they are!

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    1. I am happy that you will be joining in, Lizzy! German Literature Month, which you cohost with Caroline, has been a great enrichment to my reading life. I only hope that this “challenge” adds to yours.☺️

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  5. This sounds like a lot of fun – I have quite a few translations of Japanese mysteries and crime novels on my TBR pile and I know Pushkin are reissuing The Decagon House Murders which I have never reviewed on my blog so I am sure I will be able to participate.

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    1. I’m so glad you’ll join in, Aidan! I know Pushkin Press has published some wonderful Japanese mysteries, but I haven’t read the one you mentioned. I wonder if it is a locked-room mystery such as others I’ve read from them? It will be good to hear your thoughts.

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      1. Thanks! I am looking forward to taking part.
        It is a closed circle mystery that takes place on an isolated island where a group of young mystery novel enthusiasts go on a retreat. It was the first Japanese mystery novel I read back before I started blogging so I am looking forward to rereading it again now.

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        1. I looked for a blog to link to you, but WordPress says “nothing’s there.” Do you have a site you’d like connected to your name for reviews? Of course, it is not necessary at all, I just don’t want to neglect something you might want.

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  6. I considered joining last year, but instead just tried out a book by a Japanese author – Malice by Keigo Higashino. I enjoyed this mystery and find myself thinking of it often. So, I look forward to joining the challenge this year!

    I hope to read another mystery by Higashino and Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi. We will see how that goes and maybe I will add something else.

    Thanks for hosting!

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  7. Keigo Higashino is one of my favorite mystery/thriller writers of all. I’m so glad you liked Malice; Salvation of A Saint is another excellent one. I,too, have Before The Coffee Gets Cold on my kindle. It looks like a wonderful, quirky book, and the concept of time and making different choices (perhaps), given the choice,Malawi’s appeals to me. I’m so glad you’re in for this year!

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  8. I suspect I may get around to a book or ten during my January in Japan (and beyond!). By the way, have you got a copy of the Murakami already? If so, lucky you!

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    1. I suspect you will get around to reading many!! You and I are the most passionate readers for Japanese literature that I know. I was fortunate to receive Murakami’s newest, and Ishiguro’s newest, as well as The Last Joker and The Phonebook At The Edge of the World. They all look like treasures!

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          1. I’ve only ever received one Murakami as an ARC (‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki…’) in all my years of covering Japanese books 😦

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    1. I love how the Japanese write crime! And, thrillers! (And, magical realism!) One of my favorite writers is Keigo Higashino. I look forward to what you read and share with us.

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  9. So pleased to see that you will be hosting this terrific challenge again! Thank you, Bellezza! Although I haven’t been blogging much, I hope to participate again. My daughter has a copy of Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami, so perhaps I will read that for your challenge.

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    1. I have begun Breasts and Eggs, and while it is a little strange (did I expect it not to be?), I like the focus on women and our places in life. It will be interesting to talk about should you have a chance to read it, and I am so glad, Suko, that you’ll be reading with me again.

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    1. I’m glad you found out about the challenge, Sophie, and that you are joining in! I hope you like it as much as I do, as well as many of the other participants who come back year after year. It’s such a fascinating “genre”.

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  10. So excited to see this challenge back and please count me in. I’m really excited to see a new Ishiguro book coming out next year. I only read one Japanese book this year, Ms. Ice Sandwich, but I found it really sweet. Thank you for hosting!

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    1. So glad to have you, as always, Iliana. I believe Ms. Ice Cream Sandwich is written by the same author as Breasts and Eggs, Meiko Kawakami? I have begun the later, which is extremely interesting.

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    1. Thank you, dear Arti! My correspondence with blogging and commenting has been terrible; I have found myself staying off of social media with all the political garbage constantly in my face, even deactivating my Facebook account. But, Inso appreciate you coming by to wish me a Merry Christmas, and I will try to do a better job of staying in touch with you and your “ripples”. God’s blessing on your new year. xo

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    1. Mine is just an electronic book, but I am very much looking forward to reading it. Although I promised not to review Klara and the Sun until March 2 as Knopf requested. I probably shouldn’t read it before February, as it will be hard to be quiet!

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  11. I’m coming to this post very late, Meredith, but I’d love to participate again this year. Breasts and Eggs looks like a fascinating novel, so I hope to join the January group read if I have time. Thanks for organising JLC again!

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    1. It’s never too late, Andrew, and I’m really happy that you’ll participate again. Your reviews are always both enticing and fascinating; I love how you write and seeing what you bring forth that I neglected to notice. Hope you can make it for Breasts and Eggs, but if not, I look forward to sharing what you do read.

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