The Guardian’s “World Literature Tour” has now hit Japan, and while the comments are just getting started, one can’t help but feel a bit disappointed that most of the tried and true names are really all that’s being trotted out for recommendation: Oe, Mishima, Tanizaki, Murakami (Haruki), Kawabata. Obviously there is a problem in that we’re limited to works available in (English) translation, but still. No Osamu Dazai, Ryotaru Shiba, or Ogai Mori just to name a few of the “classic” variety, all of whom are available in translation. (Alright, someone has now added Dazai since I first wrote this up, though with no comment as to why one should read him).

And what of contemporary authors, which is where you would think an open call for recommendations such as this one would have the most worth? Of course the two Murakami’s are mentioned several times (the aforementioned Haruki, and the no-relation Ryu), as is Banana Yoshimoto, but what about Koji Suzuki (of Ring fame), Natsuki Ikezawa, Jun’ichi Watanabe (who’s apparently popular in China as well), or Kaori Ekuni.


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