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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From Publishers Weekly:
RUTH OZEKI is the popular and award-winning Japanese-American author of My Year of Meats and All Over Creation. She divides her time between New York and British Columbia.
The jacket art is a section of ID400 by TOMOKO SAWADA, an artist famous both in Japan and overseas for striking photographic images that question the identity of women.
This collection of eight stories offers a provocative introduction to notable contemporary literature by Japanese women. The savvy, modern protagonists in this volume are enmeshed in the recognizable dramas of women across the industrialized world—sexual awakenings, marriage, desire for children, trust and friendship with other women—but their tales unfold within the distinctive context of an emerging Japanese feminism. Many stories link sex and intimacy with feelings of powerlessness, as in Yuzuki Muroi's sexually explicit and tightly narrated "Piss," which chronicles the harsh working life of a Tokyo prostitute desperate not to slide into invisibility. In the piercing story "The Unfertilized Egg" by Junko Hasegawa, a 36-year-old single working woman crumbles under her family's expectation that she produce a fourth-generation B blood-type Year-of-the-Horse baby. The stories are peppered with adulterous, often lecherous and emotionally unavailable men, with the exception of the adolescent, geeky boyfriend who helps his girlfriend cope with her parents' divorce in Rio Shimamoto's title story, "Inside." Despite several underdeveloped narratives, this engaging collection well illustrates the complex history of social and sexual norms in Japan. (June)
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