One Japanese novel I loved and one I did not really…
Reading Japanese literature has become a very regular thing for me and I’m proud to say that I have read at least 7 authors till now, including of course Haruki Murakami, Yukio Mishima, and Yasunari Kawabata among others. These are two books by relatively newer and more contemporary Japanese writers, one of them I adored and the other one, not so much.
Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami- This was my introduction to Kawakami and I have loved her writing style so very much in this book that I will be reading more of her work in the future. It’s a matter of personal preference of course but I don’t particularly enjoy a very verbose style of writing. It feels cluttered and sometimes if a writer is skilled enough to use subtext in dialogue, that works way better. As I said, this is my personal opinion and you can disagree. I love imagery and rich descriptions as much as the next person but if given an alternative, I’ll pick up sparse prose over it. That’s why I like Kawabata and Japanese writers in general. In this book Kawakami spins a tale of modern love in Tokyo between a young woman and her former school teacher, in a very poignant, warm, and funny way. The story is lovely and the dream-like prose is nothing short of magic.
Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi- There are four stories in this book connected by a strange, little basement coffee shop and the special service provided there. The only connection between the stories is the cafe so this can actually be called a little anthology of sorts with a connecting factor. I have of course read the English translation so I can’t comment much on the writing. But the translation is very simple, sometimes too simple actually and the prose almost reads like a young adult novel. I expected much more from this but was underwhelmed at best.