The toy walkie-talkie set Amiko receives on her tenth birthday, one that she bounces with excitement to use with her yet-to-be-born brother or sister, is never successfully played with; there always fails to be a coherent response from the other end. Through flashbacks and snappy dialogue, Natsuko Imamura’s novella This is Amiko, Do You Copy? conveys the significance of communication in the building and breaking down of relationships. Adapted into a Japanese film in 2022 and now translated by Hitomi Yoshio, Imamura’s short yet engaging narrative, covering just over 120 pages, follows its protagonist Amiko from age ten through fifteen.
Earlier this month, Toho Studios released “Godzilla Minus One”—the 37th film in the now almost seven-decade-old franchise. Godzilla has gone through many phases over the past 70 years: symbol of Japan’s nuclear fears, cuddly defender of humanity, Japanese cultural icon and, now, the centerpiece of another Hollywood cinematic universe.
Kurinjithen, literally honey of the kurinji flower, is a timeless poem in prose that transports you to the lush Nilgiris where this beautiful blue flower grows wild and to the land of the Badagas who inhabit these hills. It is also Rajam Krishnan’s eulogy to a vanished world and way of life. Once in twelve years when the kurinji blooms in these hills, bees store the honey of the kurinji in combs in rock crevices and on branches of trees. When the Kurinji Blooms narrates the family saga of three generations of Badagas who have for long remained untouched by modernity. Then, as the winds of commerce and change invade their tranquil and sheltered lives, innocence and harmony are replaced by conflict and tragedy that herald new beginnings.
“How,” starts the marketing literature for Noorjahan Bose’s recent autobiography, “does a girl from a tiny Bangladeshi island end up reading Tagore, Marx and de Beauvoir and become a leading feminist campaigner?” How indeed?
The Man Who Walked Backwards and Other Stories is an anthology of eighteen short stories by S Ramakrishnan, the popular and critically acclaimed master of modern Tamil writing. The stories in this collection are a celebration of eccentricities: they feature characters who defy conventions, and who listen to their inner selves instead of conforming to familial and societal norms.
Yu Miri in her novel The End of August tells an extraordinary tale: the saga of her Korean family and the story of their nation. Her story spans space and time, giving voice to both the living and the dead. It is a tale of Korea, from the brief, failed attempt to stand at the end of the 19th century as an empire against Imperial Japan, through the colonial period that ended with Japan’s surrender in the Second World War in 1945, to the postcolonial period that came to a close at the end of the 1970s. Settings range from her ancestral village in colonial Korea to Japan’s wartime continental empire in Manchuria and occupied China to Japan. Characters speak Korean, Japanese, and Chinese, some of them switching from one language to another as circumstances demand.
With a swift rattle on the computer keyboard and a bonus gift made out of a ball of wool, an extraordinary librarian gives book recommendations that guide five individuals wandering through life to suitable paths. Michiko Aoyama’s What You Are Looking For Is in the Library, shortlisted for the Japan Booksellers’ Award in 2021 and newly translated by Alison Watts, presents the loosely intertwined lives of Tomoka, Ryo, Natsumi, Hiroya and Masao—all spontaneous visitors of the Hatori Community House library and its librarian, Ms Komachi.