Digital Geishas and Talking Frogs: The Best 21st Century Short Stories from Japan
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These wildly imaginative and boundary-bursting stories reveal fascinating and unexpected personal responses to the changes raging through today's Japan. Along with some of the world's most renowned Japanese authors, Digital Geishas and Talking Frogs includes many writers making their English-language debut.
Introduction by Pico Iyer
1 The Floating Forest by Natsuo Kirino
—Struggling with her famous father's legacy as a writer, a daughter learns to put the past behind her.
2 The Bonfire by Toshiyuki Horie
—Collecting kerosene lamps during her travels allows a woman and her husband to perform a unique commemoration of their son's death.
3 Ikebukuro West Gate Park by Ira Ishida
—Slackers and freeters populate a Tokyo park and underground haunts where vigilante justice rules.
4 To Khabarovsk by Yoko Tawada
—A train trip becomes a fantastical journey and dreamscape full of discovery.
5 As Told by a Nocturnal Witness by Jungo Aoki
—Wry observations about women, cats, and relationships.
6 Super-Frog Saves Tokyo by Haruki Murakami
—A giant frog tries to save Tokyo from an impending earthquake.
7 The Diary of A Mummy by Masahiko Shimada
—Tired of society, a man keeps a diary while following his own path of escape.
8 The Female Novelist by Maki Kashimada
—A misanthropic novelist with permanent writer's block shares her discontent with the world.
9 The Sea by Yoko Ogawa
—Awoman brings her fiancé home to meet her unusual family who live by the sea.
10 The No Fathers Club by Tomoyuki Hoshino
—Participants in this club follow special rules when talking about their missing fathers.
11 Delilah by Hitomi Kanehara
—A depressed woman finds sex, drugs and liberation in a Tokyo bar room.
12 My Slightly Crooked Brooch by Noboru Tsujihara
—A woman gives her husband permission to live with his mistress for thirty years.
guessed, Aiko had gone with Akagi to “The Floating Forest” numerous times. You walk along a narrow bridge and cross over to the island. Once you step on the surface of the island, your feet sink and become stuck—something that had scared her. For Aiko, a “floating island” was synonymous with instability and uncertainty. Was Ishinabe saying that she was unstable, uncertain, or somehow unsteady? Aiko was flush with anger, and furiously thought she would write down all of her thoughts and send it
Shohei Prize and the Yomiuri Literary Prize. Since 2008 he has served as a member of the selection committee for the Noma Literary Prize for New Authors. The Bonfire I knew, you would bring, another one back, said Yōhei in his hoarse, methodical voice. He spoke to the rhythm of his own pulse. It was, he believed, the best way to express oneself. Though slender and frail, years of long-distance running as a young man had left his heart as fit as that of someone half his age. In his idle daily
they lack: it only makes sense that one protagonist is shown literally eliminating himself, and a fractured account of a tsunami emphasizes for us that everything that was here two minutes ago is now gone. And it’s no coincidence, I suspect, that one piece ends with a young tough beating up a friend’s abusive father—and replacing his “shiny black leather shoes” with Air Jordans. * * * As I write this, the quiet ancient capital where I live, Nara, is celebrating its 1300th anniversary all around
wearing the same polo shirt as the rest of the staff. “You wouldn’t happen to have Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, would you?” The salesman took me over to the “T” rack. There was tons of Tchaikovsky. “Karajan, Davis, Barenboim, Mravinsky, which conductor would you like?” When I told him I didn’t care which one, he handed me the Davis, saying that it was the best deal for my money. I paid for it at the register, went home, then popped it in my CD player. I then listened to the song six
just been living on sleeping pills. But since June I couldn’t even leave the house to get my prescription refilled. Three and a half years ago, this sudden spasm of depression that began plaguing me at the very end was more extreme than what I experienced previously, and certainly for that reason, when I overcame it, I was surrounded by a warm feeling of omnipotence. I had been soaring through life the past three years on the wings of this all-powerful feeling. However, my certain reality was, as