All posts filed under: book review

Book review: 『駐在日記』 by Yukiya Shoji

Introduction Title: 『駐在日記』 (ちゅうざいにっき)Author: Yukiya SHOJI (小路 幸也)Published by 中公文庫253 pages Yukiya Shoji is a prolific author of fiction who wrote several mystery novels including the series “Tokyo Bandwagon” (東京バンドワゴン). 『駐在日記』 was first published in 2017 and got its first pocket edition this year (2020). There is a second volume entitled 『あの日にかえりたい』(published in 2019), which seems to be the direct following of 『駐在日記』. It is certainly better to read 『駐在日記』 first, as it introduces the characters and the setting. Review 『駐在日記』 is a short novel divided into four chapters. We follow the young couple Hana and Shuhei as they settle in the small and rural Kijiyama in 1975. Shuhei has been posted here as policeman and the couple moves in the police substation (駐在所). Hana decides to write a journal about their life there. Each chapter is devoted to a different case, but the story follows a chronological order and the book cannot be read as a collection of short stories. I bought this book because I love mystery novels and I also enjoy reading …

Book review: 『運転者』by Yasushi Kitagawa

Introduction Title: 『運転者』 (うんてんしゃ)Author: Yasushi KITAGAWA (喜多川 泰)Published by Discover (ディスカヴァー)239 pages Yasushi Kitagawa is a popular writer of fiction. His works are translated in several Asian countries and all his books have amazing reviews on Amazon. He also has a beautiful website that includes a blog updated every day and even an online shop where you can buy Kitagawa coffee… Review 『運転者』 is a light philosophical book that is likely to help you change your perception of life. Our protagonist, Shuichi, works for an assurance company, a stressful job where the number of sales determines next month’s salary. With his aging mother living alone and his daughter refusing to go to school, Shuichi is on the verge of a breakdown when he meets a mysterious taxi driver. I loved the book right from the beginning, because I liked the protagonist and found it easy to identify with him. However, 『運転者』 is not as much a great fictional story as a philosophical reflection on our life and how much our attitude alone can change things. …

Book review: 『ぼくはイエローでホワイトで、ちょっとブルー』by Mikako Brady

Introduction Title: 『ぼくはイエローでホワイトで、ちょっとブルー』Subtitle: The Real British Secondary School DaysAuthor Mikako Brady (ブレイディみかこ)Published by 新潮社 『ぼくはイエローでホワイトで、ちょっとブルー』is a nonfiction book published in 2019 (only available in soft cover but bigger format than pocket books). It is divided in 16 short chapters (around 15 pages each). Review I bought 『ぼくはイエローでホワイトで、ちょっとブルー』because it had amazing reviews on Amazon, it won prizes for nonfiction, and most of all, because I was interested in (what I thought would be) the main topic of the book. The author is Japanese, she lives in Brighton with her husband (who is Irish) and talks about the first year of middle school of her son in her book. Her son, who is half Japanese half Irish, is going to a school where the majority of students are coming from white working class families. When I chose this book, I thought it would be mainly about ethnic identity and racism. I was particularly interested in reading about identity from a Japanese point of view in a European country. I was certainly misled by the title that suggests …

Book review: 『いま、会いにゆきます』by Takuji Ichikawa

Introduction Title: 『いま、会いにゆきます』Author: Takuji ICHIKAWA (市川拓司)Published by 小学館文庫429 pages This novel was first published in 2003 and soon became a bestseller. In 2004, the story was adapted into film by Japanese director Nobuhiro Doi (土井裕泰). In 2018, Korean director Lee Jang-hoon (이장훈) made a remake of the film, under the title 지금 만나러 갑니다 (in  Japanese: Be With You – いま、会いにゆきます). This film, featuring stars like So Ji-sub (소지섭) and Son Ye-jin (손예진), has become a blockbuster in Korea and was released in Japan in 2019. When the Korean movie came out, the idea of watching it did not even cross my mind, because it is not the kind of films that I enjoy watching. At the time, I did not know that it was an adaptation of a Japanese novel. Though I had already seen the cover of 『いま、会いにゆきます』several times in bookshops or on Amazon, I failed to make the connection until I saw a copy of the book with the obi advertising for the Korean movie. Review 『いま、会いにゆきます』 has a beautiful story with interesting …

Book review: 『霧のむこうのふしぎな町』by Sachiko Kashiwaba

Introduction Title: 『霧のむこうのふしぎな町』 (きりのむこうのふしぎなまち)Author: Sachiko Kashiwaba (柏葉幸子)Illustrations: Hiromi Sugita 杉田比呂美Published by 講談社 in the collection 青い鳥文庫.210 pages Aoitori is a collection of books for children. This book has complete furigana and targets primary school readers: 小学中級から. A lot of kanji words are written in hiragana only, the font is rather big, and there is a lot of space between the lines. 『霧のむこうのふしぎな町』 inspired Hayao Miyazaki who wanted to make a film adaptation of the novel. This project was dropped, but the novel influenced another story: Spirited Away. Review I decided to read 『霧のむこうのふしぎな町』 mainly to read something easy in Japanese, but the story was great. The book builds its own world and leaves a strong impression on the reader. In the story, Rina is sent by her father to spend the Summer holidays with someone he knows in a place called 霧の谷. Rina arrives in a strange village, where she will have to find her place, work and make friends. I really loved the atmosphere and the setting of the novel. The characters are interesting, …

Book review: 『ぼくらの七日間戦争』 by Osamu Soda

Introduction Title: 『ぼくらの七日間戦争』 (ぼくらの なのかかん せんそう)Author: Osamu SODA 宗田理Illustrations: はしもとしんPublished by 角川 in the collection 角川つばさ文庫390 pages First published in 1985, 『ぼくらの七日間戦争』 is the first novel of the series ぼくら. I am not completely sure, but I think that the series follows the same characters over the years, as they grow up. In 『ぼくらの七日間戦争』, the protagonist Eiji and his classmates are in first year of middle school. We apparently follow them through their middle school and high school years in the series (see Wikipedia). Tsubasa is a collection of children’s books. 『ぼくらの七日間戦争』 is targeting primary school readers: 小学上級から. The book has complete furigana and there is a note at the end mentioning that it was partially rewritten to make it easier to read. 『ぼくらの七日間戦争』 was adapted into film in 1988. Last year (2019), a modern anime adaptation was released under the title 『ぼくらの7日間戦争』 (note the change in the title from 七 to 7). Review When I read children’s books in Japanese, I usually get bored very soon, but I loved 『ぼくらの七日間戦争』. I was genuinely interested in the story, …

Book review: 『錦繡』by Teru Miyamoto

Introduction Title: 『錦繡』(きんしゅう)Author: Teru MIYAMOTO 宮本輝Published by 新潮文庫270 pages First published in 1982, 『錦繡』is certainly one of Teru Miyamoto’s most popular novels. It was translated into English by Roger K. Thomas under the title Kinshu: Autumn Brocade, and into French, Le Brocart, by Maria Grey. Review 『錦繡』 is an epistolary novel (only composed of letters). Aki and Yasuaki were once a married couple. They meet by chance, ten years after their divorce and start to exchange letters. 『錦繡』belongs to these books that I loved so much, it is difficult to talk about them. Apart from “you must read it”, I don’t seem to find anything to say. I cannot remember the last time a novel affected me so much. I kept thinking about the story and the characters even when I was not reading the book. I identified easily with the characters, and I was emotionally involved in the story right from the beginning. Some letters were so full of emotions, it often took me a while to go back to my real life after I had …