Osamu Dazai, No Longer Human

No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai My rating: 3 of 5 stars Back in the 1950s, Donald Keene thought he had to apologize to his Anglophone readers, in his "Translator's Introduction," for this classic 1947 Japanese novel's not being "Japanese" enough—for dealing in urban alienation, radical politics, and existential despair rather than cherry blossoms and … Continue reading Osamu Dazai, No Longer Human

Katsuhiro Otomo, Akira

Akira, Vol. 1 by Katsuhiro Otomo My rating: 3 of 5 stars The 1980s—the latest, the last golden age. The length and breadth of our politics, our pop culture, even our high culture, was laid down in that decade. Everyone now is either trying to overthrow it or recapture it or some incoherent combination of … Continue reading Katsuhiro Otomo, Akira

Riyoko Ikeda, Claudine

Claudine by Riyoko Ikeda My rating: 4 of 5 stars This 2018 English translation of Riyoko Ikeda's 1978 shōjo manga about the brief life and tragic loves of the eponymous protagonist is being hailed, to quote Wikipedia, as "one of the earliest manga to feature a transgender protagonist." While I'm sure this is literally true, it … Continue reading Riyoko Ikeda, Claudine

Moto Hagio, The Heart of Thomas

The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio My rating: 4 of 5 stars Consider two articles published within the last week. In one, Marie Doezema explains the role played by the philosophers of 1968, who tutored several generations of intellectuals (including my own), in legitimizing pedophilia in late-twentieth-century France: After May 1968, French intellectuals would … Continue reading Moto Hagio, The Heart of Thomas

Yukio Mishima, Patriotism

Patriotism by Yukio Mishima My rating: 5 of 5 stars One of the twentieth century's most renowned stories or novellas, Mishima's Patriotism of 1960 narrates the ritual suicide of Lieutenant Takeyama and his wife Reiko following a mutiny in the Japanese Imperial Army in 1936. The lieutenant's friends are the rebellion's leaders, though they have … Continue reading Yukio Mishima, Patriotism

Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami My rating: 3 of 5 stars Murakami is a polarizing figure; I like polarizing figures, because the lack of consensus about their merits deprives my adolescent contrarianism, which resists all consensus indiscriminately, of its fuel, and, in consequence, I have to make up my mind freely. To my … Continue reading Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, In Praise of Shadows

In Praise of Shadows by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki My rating: 4 of 5 stars This is Japanese novelist Tanizaki's important essay on aesthetics, one of the great twentieth-century manifestos, though that term suggests a brawling and list-making modernity that Tanizaki is at pains to eschew. In fact, In Praise of Shadows belongs, roughly, to the anti-modern … Continue reading Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, In Praise of Shadows