the problem of japanese literature

Fall_language_age_english_book_cover_art_CROP_t380Jay Rubin at the Times Literary Supplement:

The most lamentable sign of the decline of the Japanese language, as Mizumura sees it, is the current state of Japanese literature, which is written by “brainless writers of crap”. The literary scene is “like a playground where everything [is] small and clamorous – just juvenile”.

“Representative works of today’s Japanese literature often read like rehashes of American literature . . . . [W]orks of contemporary fiction tend to resemble global cultural goods, which, like Hollywood blockbuster films, do not require language – or translation – in the truest sense of the word. No wonder Japan’s best and brightest have turned their backs on literature.”

There are a few exceptions, she suggests, but the youngest writers she mentions were born in 1935 and 1943. Fans of contemporary Japanese literature may wonder where the presumptive Nobel nominee Haruki Murakami (b. 1949) fits into Mizumura’s bleak landscape, but one can only assume that he is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. His Vonnegut-flavoured narratives are surely the worst of the “rehashes” that Mizumura so abhors.

more here.

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