Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction, Yiddish Culture, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality historical novels are some of my Literary Interests





Friday, February 1, 2019

The Reading Life Review- January 2019


January Authors 




Row 1. Left to right 

  1. Banana Yoshimoto.  Japan.  Author Kitchen, Lake, and numerous works 
  2. Masako Togawa. Japan. Author The Master Key, The Lady Killer
  3. Seirai Yuchi. Japan. Author of short stories about atomic bomb aftermath 
  4. Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn - Poland. Immigrated to Canada.Prolific Yiddish language writer, renown Yiddish theater actress 

Row 2.

  1. Avrom Rezyan.  Russia.  Immigrated to NYC. Prolific Yiddish language writer 
  2. Lucia Berlin.  USA.  
  3. Hurakami Murakami.  Japan
  4. Akil Kumarasamy.  USA. Author Half Gods

Row 3.

  1. Mavis Gallant.   Canada, immigrated to Paris
  2. John Duffy.  Ireland. Immigrated to Canada. Very Talented short story writer
  3. Yoko Owaga.  Japan.  Hotel Iris, The Housekeeper and The Professor 
  4. Shion Miura. Japan.  The Great Passage.  I loved this book
  5. Yoko Tawada-Japan. Writes in German and Japanese.author The Emissary. 

Row 4

  1. Ayikuki Nosaka. Japan.  Amazing WW Two Stories 
  2. James Clark.  USA. The Hidden History of Florida 
  3. Chaya Bhuvaneswar.  USA. White Elephants Dance.  I will feature her work numerous times going forward 
  4. Isaiah Spiegel. Poland, immigrated to Israel, Holocaust Survivor, Yiddish writer.  His short stories on the Lotz Ghetto are Master works

Birth Countries of January Authors

  1. Japan. 8
  2. USA. 4
  3. Poland. 3
  4. Canada. 1
  5. Russia. 1

I posted on the work of seven men and ten women in January, seven deceased authors and ten living.  Ten authors were featured for the first time, seven are old friends.

Blog Stats

Since inception The Reading Life has received 5,561,129 page views

In January The five most read posts included four Short stories by authors from The Phillipines and one from Indonesia 

Top home countries of Blog visitors 

  1. U.S.A
  2. The Philippines 
  3. India
  4. Russia 
  5. UK
  6. France
  7. Canada 
  8. Germany
  9. Ukraine

Works I read but did not post upon

  1. Night by Elie Weisel.  Essential Holocaust text. 
  2. The Color of Light by Helen Mayles Shankman 
  3. Ordinary Men Reserve Police Battalion 101 and The Final Solution by Christopher R. Brown.  An important Holocaust Study
  4. Nothing Remains The Same: Reading and Rereading by Wendy Lesser.  Very illuminating essays.  Highly recommended

Japanese Literature Challenge 12

I am once again participating in The Japanese Literature Challenge hosted by Dolce Bellezza.  


Works Read in January for The Japanese Literature Challenge 12



  1. “Insects” - a Short Story by Yuchi Seirai, a post Atomic Bomb work,2012
  2. The Great Passage by Shion Miura, 2011, a deeply moving work centered on the creation of a Japanese Language Dictionary 
  3. "The Whale That Fell in Love with a Submarine" A Short Story by  Akiyuki Nosaka- 2003- translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori - 2015
  4. “Bee Honey” - A Short Story by Banana Yoshimoto- 2000 - set in Argentina during the annual Mother’s March for Disappeared Children.
  5. Killing Commendatore: A Novel by Huruki Murakami- 2017
  6. The Master Key by Masako Togawa - 1962 - translated by Simon Grove
  7. "The Elephant and its Keeper" - A Short Story by Akiyuki Nasaka- 2003. translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemari
  8. The Emissary by Yoko Tawada - 2014 - translated by Margaret Mitsutani
  9. “The Prisoner of War and the Little Girl” - A Short Story by Akiyuki Nasaka- 2003. translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemari. I did not post on this story.
  10. “The Soldier and the Horse” - A Short Story by Akiyuki Nasaka- 2003. translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemari. I did not post on this story.

I posted an original short story by the very talented John Duffy.  My great thanks to John for this.

February Plans

I will read more Japanese fiction and more Yiddish works including brand new translations of late 19th century works showing life in Poland.  I will continue reading more Jewish history and Holocaust studies.  William Blake spoke of seeing the world in a grain of sand, I am increasingly seeing the world in the Yiddish experience.  Once I gain more confidence I will try to explain this.

For the third time I observed on January 27 World Holocaust Remberance Day.

My great thanks to Max u for Amazon Gift cards

To those who leave comments, you help keep me going.

Mel u








The Emissary by Yōko Tawada, translated from The Japanese by Margaret Mitsutani, won The 2018 National Book Award for Best Translated Literature.  It potrays a Japan after some sort of tremendous ecological decay which causes children to be born weak, deformed with little capacity for positive development.  The older citizens, sixty plus or so, keep getting stronger as they age.  People are triving at 120.  Japan has become completely isolationist.  Using foreign words is illegal. Every thing is just totally weird.  The story centers on a deformed boy and his great  grandfather.  The older man has great strength of character trying to cope.  

The very real pleasure to be found in The Emissary is in learning about the super imaginative dexriptions of the bizzare transformations in Japanese society.  


Called “magnificently strange” by The New Yorker and frequently compared to Kafka, Pynchon, and Murakami, Yoko Tawada (b. 1960) is one of the most creative, theoretically provocative, and unflinchingly original writers in the world. Her work often deals with the ways that nationhood, languages, gender, and other types of identities affect people in contemporary society, especially in our postmodern world of shifting, fluid boundaries.  She is one of the rare writers who has achieved critical success writing in two languages, both in her native Japanese and in German, the language of the country where she has lived since 1982. Five volumes of her work in English translation have been published by New Directions and Kodansha, and her work has been translated into many other languages. Her numerous literary prizes in both Japan and Europe include the Gunzo Prize for New Writers for "Missing Heels,” the Akutagawa Prize (Japan's most important prize for young writers) for "The Bridegroom Was a Dog," the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize for her contributions to German-language literature, the Izumi Kyōka Prize, and the Goethe Medal. 

From Words Without Borders

Mel u





















1 comment:

Buried In Print said...

You've done a remarkable job of reading Japanese writers this month (in January, I mean - I am late reading your posts). What a terrific event! I saw the new Murakami at the library the other day, but I managed to resist (I am on hold for it, but the copies on the "new shelves" are not part of the collection which circulates, so sometimes you can "find" a book which you are also still waiting for through the proper channels). It still feels like Norwegian Wood was a recent read for me (from December).