Author Archive

A Writer Between Worlds

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Culture shock is central to Tawada Yôko’s subject matter: her characters tend to be travelers of one kind or another—mail-order brides, bewildered exchange students—forced to wander in the gap between languages, where the meaning of ordinary daily experience turns slippery and weird.

The Artist as Writer

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In 1973, Kusama Yayoi returned to Japan from New York and began experimenting with poetry and fiction.

The Subtle Interrogation of Power in The Pillow Book

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Sei Shonagon’s book, completed in the year 1002, interrogates power and powerlessness through the use of formal hybridity, offering itself up as an unexpected progenitor of our current literary scene.

The Tale of Genji, Suspended Between East and West

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We in the English-speaking world are used to the idea that we apprehend Genji only dimly through translation, as if through a scrim, watching shadows. So why then have two Japanese sisters, both well-known poets, spent years retranslating an Edwardian English translation of the novel back into Japanese?

Kawabata Yasunari’s House of the Sleeping Beauties and the Male Gaze

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In his 1961 novella, Kawabata takes the idea of the male gaze and makes it concrete, a laboratory in which to test our preconceptions about masculinity and male privilege.