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

Friday, December 2, 2016

"Delilah" By Hitomi Kanehara (2011, included in Digital Geishas and Talking Frogs, Best Japanese Short Stories of the 21th Century )

                                                                                      Hitomi Kanehara

When I first participated in Dolce Bellezza's Japanese Literature Challenge  in July of 2009 I had just begun my blog.  After Dark by Haruki  Murakami was  my first Japanese authored work.  From this start I went on to read numerous works by Japanese authors, participating in Japanese Literature Challenge  for eight years.  I have come to see the post World War Two Japanese novel as one of the great cultural treasures of literary history.  After a while I came to see much of Japanese literature as involved with an attempt to depict the cultural  consequence of Japan's loss.  They did not just lose a war, as the Germans did, the very foundation of their belief system, their culture and religion was destroyed when the Emperor told his subjects he was not a god.  This is very clear in the works of the two giants of the genre, Kenzaburo Oe and Yokio Mishima.  This year's challenge runs until at least the end of the year.  The challenge web page has lot of great reading ideas.

Pico Iyer in his very elegant and erudite introduction to Digital Gieshas and Talking Frogs Best 21th  Century Japanese Short Stories sees the stories as evolving from the destruction of the authority of Japanese father figures, from the Emperor who is a false god to the grandfathers who came home defeated, to the youths raised with no foundation of values.  Samurais were just figures in magna and cartoons, women in Geisha attire worked at car shows. The young lived in a semi tribal style,reveling in western music, video games and sex,   Hitomi Kanehara is one of the greatest chroniclers of the lives of the disaffected young, especially that of women,focusing on their sexual activity and relationships.

My main purpose here is to let those interested in Japanese literature know about the collection below.  (your first venture in this genre should be The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories).

Table of Contents:

  • The floating forest / Natsuo Kirino
  • The bonfire / Toshiyuki Horie
  • Ikebukuro West Gate Park / Ira Ishida
  • To Khabarovsk / Yoko Tawada
  • As told by a nocturnal witness / Jungo Aoki
  • Super-frog saves Tokyo / Haruki Murakami
  • The diary of a mummy / Masahiko Shimada
  • The female novelist / Maki Kashimada
  • Tsunami / Keichiiro Hirano
  • The sea / Yoko Ogawa
  • The no fathers club / Tomoyuki Hoshino
  • Delila / Hitomi Kanehara
  • My slightly crooked brooch / Noboru Tsujihara.

"Delila" by Hitomi Kanehara centers on a young  rootless Tokyo woman who has just gotten a job in a small bar.  She ends up having sex with the two men working there, there is no pretension of emotional connection.

Hitomi Kanehara was born in Tokyo in 1983. She dropped out of high school at the age of 15 to pursue her passion for writing, with the support of her father, Mizuhito Kanehara, a literary professor and translator of children’s literature. She wrote her first novel Hebi ni Piasu (‘Snakes and Earrings’) at the age of 21. The novel won the prestigious Akutagawa Prize and the Subaru Literary Prize. Her other works include Autofiction (Shueisha Publishing Co., 2006), and Hydra (Shincho Publishing Co., 2007).
from Comma Press

Mel u


Fred said...

Mel u,

Thanks for the information and references. I didn't know about either of the two collections, so there's two more for my search list. I've read a number of Japanese novels, but I've never looked too deeply into shorter works. Time to rectify that.

Bellezza said...

First, let me say how honored I am that you have read with me for eight years! The reading of Japanese literature has greatly enriched my life, as has the novels we have shared. I, too, began my venture with Murakami's After Dark! And I have the Oxford Collection of stories which Tony first pointed out to me (of Tony'a Reading List). The cover you pictured here is infinitely better than the one I have! I need to dig my edition out and finish reading it; a most worthy suggestion.

Bellezza said...

I realize you are pointing us to a new collection, to read after one has read the Oxford Collection. I meant to say I want to buy this one. And, I will add your link to my review list tonight.