There are many things you can do to celebrate International Sushi Day, such as eating sushi, but at Bookstr, we chose to go on a different route. We love books, so why not celebrate International Sushi Day in a way that not only celebrates one of the most well-known Japanese traditions (sushi) but also makes us aware of some Japanese authors and their books worth reading? Here’s a list of 5 authors and their books that you should check out!
- Yoko Ogawa’s The Memory Police
On an unnamed island off an unnamed coast, objects are disappearing: first hats, then ribbons, birds, roses—until things become much more serious. Most of the island’s inhabitants are oblivious to these changes, while those few imbued with the power to recall the lost objects live in fear of the draconian Memory Police, who are committed to ensuring that what has disappeared remains forgotten.
When a young woman who is struggling to maintain her career as a novelist discovers that her editor is in danger from the Memory Police, she concocts a plan to hide him beneath her floorboards. As fear and loss close in around them, they cling to her writing as the last way of preserving the past.
A surreal, provocative fable about the power of memory and the trauma of loss, The Memory Police is a stunning new work from one of the most exciting contemporary authors writing in any language.
2. Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood
Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.
A magnificent blending of the music, the mood, and the ethos that was the sixties with the story of one college student’s romantic coming of age, Norwegian Wood brilliantly recaptures a young man’s first, hopeless, and heroic love.
3. Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen
Banana Yoshimoto’s novels have made her a sensation in Japan and all over the world, and Kitchen, the dazzling English-language debut that is still her most-loved book, is an enchantingly original and deeply affecting book about mothers, love, tragedy, and the power of the kitchen and home in the lives of a pair of free-spirited young women in contemporary Japan. Mikage, the heroine of Kitchen, is an orphan raised by her grandmother, who has passed away. Grieving, she is taken in by her friend Yoichi and his mother (who was once his father), Eriko. As the three of them form an improvised family that soon weathers its own tragic losses, Yoshimoto spins a lovely, evocative tale that recalls early Marguerite Duras. Kitchen and its companion story, “Moonlight Shadow,” are elegant tales whose seeming simplicity is the ruse of a writer whose voice echoes in the mind and the soul.
4. Natsume Sōseki’s Kokoro
Hailed by The New Yorker as “rich in understanding and insight,” Kokoro — “the heart of things” — is the work of one of Japan’s most popular authors. This thought-provoking trilogy of stories explores the very essence of loneliness and stands as a stirring introduction to modern Japanese literature.
5. Shūsaku Endō’s Silence
Shusaku Endo is Japan’s foremost novelist, and Silence is generally regarded to be his masterpiece. In a perfect fusion of treatment and theme, this powerful novel tells the story of a seventeenth-century Portuguese priest in Japan at the height of the fearful persecution of the small Christian community.
Feature image by Vinicius Benedit on Unsplash