Item description for Inside and Other Short Fiction--Japanese Women by Japanese Women by Ruth Ozeki & Cathy Layne...
Inside and other short fiction showcases the very best of recent writing by Japanese women writers today-including prize-winning novelists and authors never before published in English-as they explore the issue of female identity in a rapidly changing society. AMY YAMADA ("Fiesta"), widely published overseas and with many fans among Western readers, offers us a sophisticated psychological portrait of a sexually repressed woman. TAMAKI DAIDO ("Milk"), winner of the Akutagawa Prize in 2002, and talented young newcomer RIO SHIMAMOTO ("Inside"), paint two very different pictures of teenage life. The trials of a busy working mother are depicted by SHUNGIKU UCHIDA ("My Son's Lips"), who shocked Japan in 1993 with the publication of her novel, Father Fucker. YUZUKI MUROI ("Piss"), a prolific, popular and outspoken essayist, novelist and TV commentator, tells the sexually explicit and very moving story of a young Tokyo prostitute. Winner of the 1999 Akutagawa Prize, CHIYA FUJINO ("Her Room"), delves into the relationship between two women, one divorced and one single, with a subtle and powerful tale. Well-known essayist, JUNKO HASEGAWA ("The Unfertilized Egg") , makes a first foray into fiction with a hard-hitting portrait of the single thirty-something lifestyle. NOBUKO TAKAGI ("The Shadow of the Orchid") is a highly respected member of the Japanese literary establishment, and winner of many prizes, including the Akutagawa Prize in 1984. Her short story is a sensitive depiction of a moment of crisis in the life of a fifty-year-old housewife.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1" Width: 6.25" Height: 9.25" Weight: 1.35 lbs.
Release Date Apr 7, 2006
Publisher Kodansha International
ISBN 4770030061 ISBN13 9784770030061
Availability 0 units.
More About Ruth Ozeki & Cathy Layne
Ruth Ozeki is a novelist, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist priest. She is the award-winning author of three novels, "My Year of Meats", "All Over Creation", and "A Tale for the Time Being". Her critically acclaimed independent films, including "Halving the Bones", have been screened at Sundance and aired on PBS. She is affiliated with the Brooklyn Zen Center and the Everyday Zen Foundation. She lives in British Columbia and New York City. Visit www.ruthozeki.com and follow @ozekiland on Twitter.
Reviews - What do customers think about Inside and Other Short Fiction--Japanese Women by Japanese Women?
wonderful Dec 29, 2007
I really enjoyed this book but I think to appreciate it you need some prior knowledge of Japanese culture and society.
white, milky eggs Jun 8, 2007
Of recent a handful of Japanese writers have come to the attention of the English reading world. Primarily among these is Haruki Murakami whose stories of magical realism and fantasy have grabbed the imaginations of thousands who would not have been able to read his books in his native tongue. However, there are those who lament the popularity of Murakami's works because they lack "Japaneseness" or an "exoticness" that would distinguish his works from the Western writers whom he was influenced by. This cosmopolitan flavor of Murakami's works is shared by Banana Yoshimoto, probably Japan's most famous writer in the West, whose works have been called "Murakami-light" because of the same magical realistic qualities and the non-Japaneseness that can be found within her body of work. However, it is unfair to lump these writers together because of the Western-ness of their works, because if one reads a number of recent Japanese stories one can see that a number of these stories are not "Japanese" or "Western," but more of a cosmopolitan nature and suffused with issues pertinent to all modern--post modern?--societies of the world.
This volume of short stories opens with an introduction written by Ruth L. Ozeki, the author of My Year of Meats, who challenges both the postwar stereotype of Japanese women held primarily by Westerners, as submissive "geesha" (sic) and the present day representation as presented in anime and horror films. For her, literature is the way to truly understand a people and she begins with mentioning classics such as Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji and The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon. However, for a modern representation of Japanese women, the number of works for an English reader are, unfortunately quite limited, and she hopes that this book can fill some of that gap. However, is this book a true representation of Japanese women writers as a whole? Probably not considering that this book only contains eight stories.
Another issue that some reviewers have with this book is supposedly over sexualized nature. However, this is not really the case, because only five of the stories deal directly with sex. "Milk" written by Tamaki Daido concerns the life of a young girl in high school on the verge of her first sexual experience with her boyfriend. The title story "Inside" penned by the then twenty-year-old writer Rio Shimamoto deals with another young girl and her sexual awakening during high school. Yuzuki Muroi's story "Piss" deals with a nineteen-year-old prostitute who is dumped by her boyfriend after he steals 2 million yen from her, and Junko Hasegawa's "The Unfertilized Egg" concerns a former party girl turned business woman who is desperate to become pregnant during her thirty-sixth year of life. None of the sex scenes within these stories are graphic. They are not meant as much to titillate as they are to allow one to feel trepidation, "Milk," warmth, "Inside," despair, "Piss," and desperation, "The Unfertilized Egg. Amy Yamada's story "Fiesta" is the only one that takes sexual desire and puts a darkly comic aspect to it when she gives voice to a woman's unbridled desire for her boss.
Besides sexuality, the stories also tackle such issues as sexism, urban malaise, and the like. While the book might not entirely be a completely pleasant read, it is one that does provoke thoughts. A good book for those who want to read Japanese writers outside of those readily available in English, Inside and Other short fiction makes for a good quick read.
Expertly engaging short stories Apr 24, 2007
Eudora Welty said that the task of a fiction writer was "to enter into the heart and skin of a human being who is not oneself".
All eight of the stories that make up "Inside and Other Short Fiction" are triumphs in terms of the writers' abilities to chart the inner topographies of characters. One story ("Fiesta") even goes so far as to inhabit the very emotions of one woman, written out as separate characters in her inner drama.
I found three of these stories to have a brilliance that outshines the others. "Milk", by Tamaiko Daido may remind readers of the wonderful Japanese girl character in the movie "Babel", because it captures the interplay of adolescents in contemporary Japan so unerringly.
"Shadow of the Orchid" by Nobuko Takagi is a wonderful examination of the uncertainties of a middle-aged relationship, at the same time as it flirts with the haunting traditions of the Japanese ghost story.
Finally, there is "Inside", by Rio Shimamoto, a staggeringly poised writer who is only 23 years old. This is one of the most flawlessly written stories concerning familial conflicts that I have had the pleasure of reading. Expect to hear from this writer in a big way, in the future.
All in all, "Inside and Other Short Fiction" is a marvelous volume, and is worthy of comparison to the earlier "This Kind of Woman", another volume of writing by Japanese women which is definitely worth sinking your literary teeth into...(if you can find it.)
Hopelessness in Japan Nov 11, 2006
Inside is surely an inside look at the young Japanese female state of mind. The culture of young women, as represented by Amy Yamada, is structured to the whims and expectations of men, and not very uplifting. Victims of benign neglect by the objects of their affection, disinterested and fearful men, the women move along in education and living without any apparent goals or realization of self-actualizaton. They want the most society will allow them, without the expectation of plenty. Some plenty bright, each featured personality seemed walking under a plexiglass ceiling that would not allow them even to stand upright, much less climb a few steps toward the height of potential and self satisfaction, facing a tide of hopelessness through which hooking up with the right man (not a loved man) seemed the only outlet. Sex appeared to have little to do with affection, but was rather an experience to have. Romance appeared out of the question.
Without more exposure to the Japanese culture, this writer cannot tell if this sample of Japanese female life is a cross section, or the creature of an editor's choices. If the former, Japanese women have a long way to go, baby.
Good writing for the most part, the book is probably best understood by women. Thick paper means fewer pages in the softbound binding. Probably more to the story than met this eye.
a great collection Aug 17, 2006
First of all, I should start by saying that I am one of the translators of this anthology, but I'd like to let people know what a great collection of stories this is: certainly fascinating for anyone interested in Japan, but also very accessible to anyone with an interest in world fiction and women's issues in particular. My favorite story, which I didn't translate but wish I had, is Yuzuki Muroi's Piss - shocking, perhaps, but also very sad and moving. If you want to discover the reality of Japanese women's lives today, in all their complexity, I would really recommend this book.