Tag: Japanese literature

The Travelling Cat Chronicles

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa, trans. Philip Gabriel (Doubleday, 2017); audiobook read by George Blagden (Transworld, 2018) A simple, at times wistful exploration of life in Japan, told by way of old friendships revisited and the devoted owner/pet relationship the protagonist shares with his cat. While Arikawa captures the power of childhood memories, the cat’s direct observations add…

Pinball, 1973

Pinball, 1973 by Haruki Murakami (Kodansha International, 1980); trans. Ted Goossen; audiobook read by Kirby Heyborne (Random House Audio, 2015) In volume two of the Rat tetralogy, Murakami renews his commitment to dressing up shallow student nihilism as intellectual profundity. The contemplative simplicity of prose, the bleakness of the narrator’s mindset and the banality of subject matter combine alluringly, only…

The Cat Who Saved Books

The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa (2017); trans. Louise Heal Kawai; audiobook read by Kevin Shen (Picador, 2021) The cat gives off Alice in Wonderland vibes and there’s a dark, almost elegiac edge to the book-rescuing missions it cajoles teenage shut-in Rintaro Natsuki into undertaking. Through Rintaro’s coming of age, Natsukawa expresses love for and extols the virtues…

Hear the Wind Sing

Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami (Kodansha International, 1979); trans. Ted Goossen; audiobook read by Kirby Heyborne (Random House Audio, 2015) The narrator looks back on when he was a 21-year-old student of little interest to anyone. Murakami, rather like Vonnegut, writes what may or may not be deadpan literary satire. Narrator Kirby Heyborne does his best to make…