What better way to start a new year than to join a shared reading/blogging event to blow away the cobwebs of the festive season and begin the year with real purpose? With that in mind and having enjoyed German Literature Month in November, I signed up for January in Japan, hosted by Tony from Tony’s Reading List. He’s even created a dedicated blog for the event, so if you are interested in finding out who’s taking part and what they are reading here’s where to go: January in Japan. Tony has also added some very comprehensive write-ups on Japanese writers, all so helpful if you are embarking on your first major foray into Japanese literature!
The great thing about joining a shared reading event like this one is that the hosts don’t mind if you read one book or several. Lucky for me, because as much as I would love to read lots of Japanese books this month I am limiting myself to a more realistic two titles!
Strangers by Taichi Yamada
This is essentially a ghost story about a middle-aged, jaded and divorced, TV scriptwriter who returns one night to the rundown district of Tokyo where he grew up. He meets a man who looks exactly like his long-dead father. And so begins his ordeal, as he’s thrust into a reality where his parents appear to be alive at the exact age they had been when they had died many years before. Could be creepy. There is a huge following for this book. I first heard it mentioned by the publisher and blogger, Scott Pack. Since then I’ve heard lots of praise for it.
South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami
Hajime, an only child growing up in post-war Japan had a friend in Shimamoto, also an only child. Together they spent long afternoons listening to her father’s record collection. But when his family moved away, the two lost touch. Now he is in his thirties. After a decade of drifting he has found happiness with his wife and two daughters, and success running a jazz bar. Then Shimamoto reappears and Hajime is catapulted into the past, causing him all sorts of problems.
This book has been sat on our shelf for some time, so reading it not only adds to January in Japan, but also helps towards reading some of the neglected books in my house.
I will post the first review for January in Japan in the next few days and look forward to finding out what other contributors have chosen to read.