Soji Shimada: The Tokyo Zodiac Murders

The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada is an entertaining and brilliant example of the Honkaku genre in Japanese crime fiction where the mystery is solved using logical reasoning.

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Natsume Sōseki: Botchan

“I don’t care about my career. To do my duty by a friend is first and last.” ~ Botchan This statement exemplifies the righteousness and fierce loyalty of Botchan, the protagonist of the eponymous book by Natsume Sōseki. Botchan means “boy master”, an affectionate name given to him by his family’s elderly servant, Kiyo. He…

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Natsume Sōseki: Kokoro

Kokoro こころ: the heart of things Published in 1914 in Japanese, Kokoro is widely regarded as Natsume Sōseki’s masterpiece. Edwin McClellan, who translated the novel in 1957, wrote in the foreword that he found the above definition to be the most befitting. The novel starts on an unassuming tone – a young and unidentified student…

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Banana Yoshimoto: Goodbye Tsugumi

What if you were born frail, chronically ill and the doctors predicted that you would die young? What if death looms over you like a permanent ominous cloak without revealing when your time will finally be up? How would you live your life? How would you treat those around you? How would you like to be remembered? “Goodbye Tsugumi”…

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Banana Yoshimoto: Kitchen

“The place I like best in the world is the kitchen,” declares a youthful Mikage Sakurai at the beginning of “Kitchen“. Written by Banana Yoshimoto*, Kitchen quickly become a bestseller when it was published in 1988. Yoshimoto also received some of Japan’s top literary prizes with her first book, further fanning the “Bananamania” in the country. Having recently read Kitchen –…

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