New Japanese Voices: The Best Contemporary Fiction from Japan

Helen Mitsios, Other Atlantic Monthly Press $18.95 (175p) ISBN 978-0-87113-426-4
Refuting the popular belief that literature in Japan is ``dead,'' novelist McInerney states that current fiction there shows ``the hybrid vigor of the traditional and the modern.'' While certainly vigorous, these 12 stories, all by prizewinning writers, are less ``hybrid'' than cutting-edge cosmopolitan: although primarily set in Japan, they seem products of a pure universe in which Kafka and the Divine Comedy are common points of reference; in which Helen Keller is so well known that an anecdote describing her progress need identify her only by first name. Mitsios, a professor of English, assembles an impressive range of literary ambassadors, from Sei Takekawa's sophisticated horror tale ``On a Moonless Night'' to Genichiro Takahashi's baseball story ``The Imitation of Leibniz'' and Eimi Yamada's erotic ``X-Rated Blanket.'' Among the more poignant entries is Shiina Makoto's ``Swallowtails,'' in which a teacher tells a struggling young couple that a classmate has accused their son of stealing, while perhaps the most comic is ``The Unsinkable Molly Brown,'' by Tamio Kageyama, about an obese student at a scuba-diving school. This anthology should firmly resolve debates about the vitality of Japanese fiction. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-87113-522-3
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-1-55584-588-9
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