The Nakano Thrift Shop

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Read 08/08/2019-12/08/2019

Rating 3 stars

Read for Women in Translation Month and the 20 Books of Summer readathon.

Hiromi Kawakami’s second novel was a change of pace from my previous read this month. Set in a thrift shop that definitely isn’t an antique shop, it follows the lives of shop owner Mr Nakano, his sister Masayo and his two employees Takeo and Hitomi. Hitomi narrates the day to day happenings around the shop. Continue reading

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Twenty Books of Summer readathon

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I have 149 books that I own on my to read list. 78 of those are physical books that teeter in a pair of piles in front of one of my bookcases. When I read that Sandra (A Corner of Cornwall) and Paula (Book Jotter) are doing the 20 Books of Summer readathon hosted at Cathy’s blog 746 Books (I thought my to read pile was bad!), I decided this was the thing that I needed to focus my mind and get 20 of those books read. Continue reading

Dendera

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Read 29/05/2019-02/06/2019

Rating 2 stars

I first found out about Dendera at an author event at my local Waterstone’s bookshop. I’d gone along with a friend to hear Sayaka Murata speak about her novel Convenience Store Woman. For me, the presence of Yūya Satō and discussion of his novel was incidental. The host of the event thought otherwise, talking more to Satō and with more interest in Satō’s book. Satō came across as an affable chap, pleased with his sort of morality tale, sort of horror story, and I thought I’d give Dendera a try. Continue reading

Kitchen (台所)

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Read 11/04/2019-16/04/2019

Rating 5 stars

Kitchen is the first novel by Banana Yoshimoto. She’s written a few more since then, but so far I’ve only read The Lake. I enjoyed that one well enough, but I enjoyed Kitchen a whole lot more. Continue reading

Convenience Store Woman

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Read 28/02/2019

Rating 4 stars

I went to a Japan Foundation event at my local Waterstone’s bookshop last week to hear Sayaka Murata interviewed about her novella Convenience Store Woman. Another author, Yuya Sato, was also interviewed about his novel Dendera.

Both are prize-winning authors in Japan with many titles to their names. As ever, though, few have been translated into English.

I found the event strange but enjoyable. The interviewer seemed more comfortable talking about Sato’s novel and his approach to writing and asking Sato more probing questions than he did engaging with Murata. There was an awkwardness about his interactions with her. Fortunately, the audience seemed more interested in her writing and ideas, so the Q&A made up for the interviewer’s deficiency.

There was also an inbuilt awkwardness about the interview being conducted through a translator, with all its attendant pauses and whispers. The translator did an incredible job, making me realise that my own Japanese skills are far from adequate, never mind good.

I came away wanting to read both books, but more intrigued by the premise of Murata’s.

As luck would have it, when I started to tell my husband about the event when I got home, he revealed that he owns a copy of Convenience Store Woman and it hopped straight to the top of my list of what to read next. Continue reading

Sweet Bean Paste

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Read 02/12/2018-06/12/2018

Rating: 3 stars

My best friend lent me this book. She knew that I would enjoy it, and she was right.

Within the first couple of pages, Durian Sukegawa’s description of the novel’s setting made me yearn for Japan and the holiday adventures my husband and I like to take exploring the side streets and everyday bits of Japan away from the tourist attractions. The description of the dorayaki shop where Sweet Bean Paste is set made me think of the Japanese drama series Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories. Continue reading