The Japanese Literature Challenge 3!

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I have been looking forward to the start of Dolce Bellezza’s Japanese Literature Challenge for a while. I have loved every Japanese book that I have read and this challenge is a great way to discover new books, which are otherwise quite hard to find reviews for.

I have saved up a few Japanese books ready for the start of this challenge, so in the next 6 months I plan to read as many of these as possible:


The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

I love Murakami, but have somehow managed to miss his most popular book.


The Love We Share Without Knowing by Christopher Barzak

Nymeth’s review was so powerful, that I ordered a copy straight away.  I’ll probably read this one first.

The Tale of Murasaki by Liza Dalby

I’m currently reading The Tale of Genji, so plan to read this biography of it’s author before finishing this marathon read.

The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu

I have been reading this classic for a few weeks now. I hope to finish it at some point during this challenge.

Tokyo Year Zero by David Peace

I love the sound of this book, but don’t know whether the repetitive noises in this book will wind me up too much!

There are a few other Japanese books that I really want to read including The Housekeeper and the Professor and Grotesque, but as I don’t own copies of these they’ll have to wait!

Do you love Japanese literature?

Are you planning to take part in this challenge?

What is your favourite Japanese book?


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  1. kimbofo says:

    I don’t “do” challenges, so I won’t be taking part, but good luck: you’ve got some great selections there. I have the David Peace in my reading queue.

    If you’re looking for further recommendations, I loved ‘Strangers’ by Taichi Yamada, when I read it a couple of years ago.

    Not sure if non-fiction books are on your list, but ‘Autobiography of a Geisha’ by Sayo Masuda is a must-read.

    Both are reviewed on my blog… I’m too lazy to hunt out the hyperlinks for you!

    1. Jackie says:

      Thank you for the recommendations – I’ve added both to my wishlist and will keep an eye out for them.

  2. Claire says:

    Great selection, Jackie! I’m intrigued by a number of them and looking forward to finding out more about them once you’ve read and reviewed them.

    The only one I have read is the top one, which I thoroughly enjoyed although it is very Murakami in its surrealism.

    1. Jackie says:

      I love Murakami’s surrealism – strange as I’m not normally a fan of it, but somehow he manages to make it work.

  3. Carl V. says:

    I’m so glad you are joining in. Great list of books! So far my favorite Japanese book is After Dark by Haruki Murakami, and I look forward to expanding my experience with Japanese fiction so that After Dark will have more competition!

    1. Jackie says:

      I haven’t read After Dark yet, but I’m sure I will do soon – I love Murakami!

  4. bellezza says:

    One of these days, I may get to The Tale of Genji in it’s full length, original version. I was so disappointed to order a copy once, and find it had been truncated! Anyway, your list looks great (especially The Tale of Murasaki). Does everyone have a tale but me? :) I’m so glad you’re joining in. Welcome!

    1. Jackie says:

      I’m not sure – sometimes I wish my version was truncated!!!!
      The Tale of Genji isn’t the easiest book to read!

  5. Teresa says:

    I’ve hardly read any Japanese literature, but one of my favorite books of all time is Silence by Shusaku Endo. I haven’t reviewed it myself, but Rob Around Books was praising it to the skies a couple of weeks ago. And I’ve heard Martin Scorsese is working on a movie version, so it should become very hot, very soon.

    1. Jackie says:

      I hadn’t heard of that book before – it looks really good. I’ve just added it to my wish list, so I will read it one day – thank you for the recommendation.

  6. Melody says:

    I’ve a few books by Murakami which I haven’t read! I’m still thinking if I should join in though… considering I’m behind on my other reading challenges! :P

    1. Jackie says:

      You only have to read one book for this challenge – I’m sure you can fit that in!

      I’ve only read 2 books from my TBR challenge list, but I love Japanese literature so much that I can squeeze in quite a few without any problem!

  7. Sandy says:

    I’m with you on this one. I may not get past one or two books, but I’m still in!

    1. Jackie says:

      I’m not sure how many books I’ll manage to read, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy them all anyway.

  8. claire says:

    I adore Japanese lit and glad to be reading along with you! I might get to Wind-Up Bird, too, but not very sure as I did make a long list he he. I especially am interested in the Tale of Murasaki, will keep an eye out for you review on that. I haven’t started Genji for Matt’s read-along. I might just read it after you all are done, also not sure. I have another Proust looming on the horizon, haha, and it’s the longest one by far. Also the 2666, so.

    1. Jackie says:

      I know how you feel – the list of books just grows and grows! I still haven’t read this month’s 2666 – I really need to start that this weekend.

      I hope to read Murasaki soon. I hope it will help to make Genji come to life a bit more. Good luck with the Proust!

  9. Sarah says:

    I’d second Teresa’s recommendation of Silence by Shusaku Endo- an absolutely brilliant book.

    1. Jackie says:

      Great – hopefully someone will put a copy on bookmooch soon!

  10. mee says:

    The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is one of my favorite books! (though I think Norwegian Wood still beats it) I hope you’ll enjoy it! I tried Tale of Murasaki many years ago but found it a bit dull. Maybe it was the timing. The Housekeeper and the Professor is one that I’d like to read too. Also the couple of books recommended by kimbofo.

    1. Jackie says:

      You’re the first person to say that Murasaki was dull – the few reviews I’ve read have raved about it. I hope I enjoy it, but at least if I don’t I’ll know I’m not alone!

  11. Simon S says:

    I don’t think with the Man Booker Lonlist keeping me busy I could do another challenge although I love Japenese literature (Grotesque is good but I have heard Out is better the latter I havent read but is on my TBR) and that almost tempted me to join but I think my next challenge is no more challenges until 2010. I think I need some time to just read random books. Maybe I could call it ‘The Random Challenge’ lol.

    1. Jackie says:

      The random challenge already exists!!:
      I didn’t realise you’d read Grotesque – have you reviewed it on your blog? I’ll have to go and search for it.

  12. Violet says:

    This challenge sounds interesting. I have been wating to read Murakami for a long time now. I would have joined the challenge but that would mean buying more books and adding to the TBR. And I don’t have books fitting this challenge already.

    But I will enjoy reading others reviews :)

    1. Jackie says:

      I don’t think I’d want to buy more books to fit a challenge – it is a good job I have so many here already.

      I’m looking forward to reading everyones reviews – although I think that will be dangerous for my wishlist too!

  13. Nadia says:

    This challenge sounds awesome and I will most definitely be joining it. I love Murakami’s work and am looking forward to discovering some new Japanese writers. I want to read something by Yoko Ogawa and Banana Yoshimoto; I hear that they are wonderful writers and I am looking forward to their works.

    1. Jackie says:

      I have read quite a few books written by Yoshimoto. They are very good, but quite short.

  14. Annnoe says:

    The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is probably my favorite of Murakami’s books, though I recently read After Dark and really enjoyed that as well.

    I didn’t really care for Kirino’s Grotesque, but Out was impossible to put down.

  15. Mel says:

    I just joined the challenge. “After Dark” by Murakami will be my first Japanese novel. If i like it as I am sure I will I will also read “Wind Up Bird Chronicles”.
    I hope to read one Japanese novel per month and I am sure I will get some very good ideas from others in the Challenge

  16. coffeegrl says:

    I haven’t read much Japanese literature, but I did read Shusako Endo’s “The Girl I Left Behind” and found it poetic and haunting. I picked it up purely by chance and it’s one of those books that just stays with you.

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