Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories

The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories Edited by Theodore Goossen (1997, 452 pages)

A Wonderful Collection of Short Stories

A Good Starter Book on Japanese Literature
I have already posted on several of the stories in this collection.    Most of the "big names" of Japanese literature are among the thirty- five stories included in the anthology.   The translators include Donald Keen and Jay Rubin.   The stories range from the beginnings of "Western style" short  stories in Japan up to works by Haruki Murakami and Banana Yoshimoto.

Two of the most famous short stories by Japan's two Nobel prize winners for literature are  included.     Perhaps the most famous of all Japanese short stories "The Grove" by Ryunosuke Akutagawa is part of the collection.    A wonderful story by Yukio Mishima, "Onnagata" takes us deeply into the life behind the stage at a Kobe theater.   There are also two excellent WWII stories.   There are good stories about the darker side of the Tokyo nightlife and a look at the life of an old geisha.   

Theodor Goossen has done a great job with this book.   His short introduction is very useful and helped me a lot.   He also includes a short biography of each author,  a list of films made on their works, and a publication history.   

I read all these stories and there is not a bad one in the book!    Some are funny, some are sexy, some are very dark and several are world class masterworks of the art of the short story.   You can learn a lot about Japanese culture and history from these stories.

This book is also very useful as it lets you "sample" the writings of thirty five different artists.   There were a lot of "new to me" writers in this anthology that I hope to read more of in the future.

If you like short stories and/or Japanese literature, you will love this book.     This book might be the perfect first Japanese literature book for those who do like short stories.   

In his introduction Goossen says in Japan prior to WWII the short story was considered a "purer" form than the novel (meaning less Westernized).

I also have The Oxford Book of Short Stories edited by William Trevor and, leaving aside the question of the quality of the stories, Goossen has done a better job with his book.   

Mel u


Meg @ A Bookish Affair said...

I don't have a whole lot of familiarity with any of the other writers besides Haruki Murakami, who is one of my favorite writers!

Carol said...

I've just recently started reading short stories regularly. This sounds like a good collection to pick up.

Mel u said...

Meg@a bookish affair-thanks for stopping by and Murakami is one of my favorite writers also

Carol-thanks for visiting-who are some of your favorite short story writers?

Suko said...

This sounds like an awesome book! Bellezza should know about this. :)

Brooke said...

I actually ordered a copy of this after you mentioned it a few days ago and I'm excited to start reading it soon. It looks great so far and I think it'll make a good jumping off point to study more authors.

Mel u said...

Suko, thanks for your comment as always

Brooke-I hope you will share some of your thoughts on the stories with us-thanks so much for your comment and visit

Rise said...

I know I'll love this book. Unfortunately I haven't found the time to read it yet. I read "The Grove" and "Onnagata" in other anthologies and they were indeed amazing. Happy to know that the editor also included a list of film adaptations of the writers' works.

Mel u said...

Risa-both of the two stories you mentioned were amazing-I do think you would love this book-