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

Thursday, December 21, 2017

“The Gourmet Club” - A Short Story by Junichiro Tanizaki- 1920 - translated by Anthony Chambers

Junichiro Tanizaki (1886 to 1965) is one of my “read all I can” writers.  Were he writing now, his every new  novel would be a bestseller, made into an international movie.  I have been reading his work for years.  Among my favourite of his novels are Naomi, Some Prefer Nettles and his most now read book, The Makioka Sisters, about four upper Class Japanese sisters in search of a husband, Austen fans love this book.  (Viking Press has very recently published his The Maids, told from the point of views of the maids of the four sisters.  As soon as this is out on Kindle I will read it!). 

“The Gourmet Club”  gives us a fascinating look at high end dining by the rich in Tokyo during the 1920s.  The Gourmet Club has five members, all idol rich men bonded by their love of sybaritic dining, with an occasional exquisite prostitute as a side interest.  A man, known as “The Count” is the head of the group, which meets at his mansion.   They roam the city looking for Gourmet delights.  One day The Count is out scouting around alone.  He smells something wonderful cooking from a simple Chinese restaurant in a new to him part of Tokyo.  This turns out to be a wonderful source of traditional Chinese food, lovingly described by Tanizaki, who had a reputation as a gourmet himself.  It is a magic place.  The story is very worth reading just for the very detailed descriptions of the menus.  I will leave for your imagination the recipe for and the rituals associated with “Fried Korean Woman”.

As far as I know this story can only be read in the collection pictured above.  I was kindly given a copy of this book, which is a great edition to Japanese Literature in Translation.

Jun'ichirō Tanizaki

in Nihonbashi,Tokyo, Japan
July 24, 1886

July 30, 1965



Jun'ichiro Tanizaki (谷崎 潤一郎) was a Japanese author, one of the major writers of modern Japanese literature, and perhaps the most popular Japanese novelist after Natsume Sōseki. 

Some of his works present a rather shocking world of sexuality and destructive erotic obsessions; others, less sensational, subtly portray the dynamics of family life in the context of the rapid changes in 20th-century Japanese society. 

Frequently his stories are narrated in the context of a search for cultural identity in which constructions of "the West" and "Japanese tradition" are juxtaposed. The results are complex, ironic, demure, and provocative.  From Goodreads.

Mel u

No comments: