The Buddha in the Attic

By Julie Otsuka Setting & details: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Authenticity of Japanese characters & dialogue: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Translation quality: N/AEntertainment value: ⭐⭐⭐My recommendation: This book is less like a novel than an epic poem, its layer upon layer of luscious details shining light on every facet of the immigrant experience, mostly through the eyes of the Japanese women who cameContinue reading “The Buddha in the Attic”

Ghosts of the Tsunami

by Richard Lloyd Perry Setting & details: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Authenticity of Japanese characters & dialogue: N/ARepresents real life in Japan: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Entertainment value: ⭐⭐⭐⭐My recommendation: Full of fascinating details and well worth reading Ghosts of the Tsunami is a page-turningly readable piece of narrative non-fiction, written by the Asia Editor of The Times of London. And while it centersContinue reading “Ghosts of the Tsunami”

Convenience Store Woman

by Sayaka Murata Setting & details: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Setting & details: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Authenticity of Japanese characters & dialogue: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Represents real life in Japan: ⭐⭐⭐⭐Entertainment value: ⭐⭐⭐⭐My recommendation: Well worth reading Convenience Store Woman is the story of middle-aged Keiko Furakura, who has worked in a convenience store all of her adult life, and finally dares to seek a futureContinue reading “Convenience Store Woman”

Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight

By Riku Onda Setting & details: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Authenticity of Japanese characters & dialogue: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Translation quality: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Entertainment value: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐My recommendation: A masterful “unreliable narrator” mystery in which both characters believe the other to be the killer, alternating their impressions of events in a way that points the finger of guilt first one way, then the other, rightContinue reading “Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight”

The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen

The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen By Eric Gower Quality of recipes: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Japanese flavor: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Ease of preparation: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐My recommendation: This cookbook is a great favorite of mine, because the flavors are Japanese-inspired but geared to a Western kitchen and what’s available in Western supermarkets. Everything is a surprise and a delight to the tongue, but is alsoContinue reading “The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen”

All I Asking For Is My Body

By Milton Murayama Setting & details: ⭐⭐⭐⭐Authenticity of Japanese characters & dialogue: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Translation quality: N/AEntertainment value: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐My recommendation: Told by a Japanese-American boy caught between cultures, this entertaining and poignant memoir spotlights the traditions and ways of thinking (both the sublime and the ridiculous) that Japanese emigrants take with them wherever they go. “All IContinue reading “All I Asking For Is My Body”

The Tattoo Murder Case

By Akimitsu Takagi Setting & details: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Authenticity of Japanese characters & dialogue: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Translation quality: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Entertainment value: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐My recommendation: A real page-turner of a police procedural that also gives a glimpse into the postwar demimonde of the tattooed Why would someone kill a beautiful tattooed woman, and steal her inked torso? That puzzle is just theContinue reading “The Tattoo Murder Case”

All She Was Worth

By Miyuki Miyabe Setting & details: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Authenticity of Japanese characters & dialogue: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Translation quality: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Entertainment value: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐My recommendation: A gripping mystery with a satisfying solution, set in an exceedingly genuine Tokyo filled with characters who are appealingly human, and also 100% Japanese This excellent mystery is the first one by bestselling Japanese mystery writer MiyukiContinue reading “All She Was Worth”

Pachinko

By Min Jin Lee Setting & details: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Authenticity of Japanese characters & dialogue: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Translation quality: N/AEntertainment value: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐My recommendation: This multi-generation story about what it’s like to be a Korean living in Japan from the early 1900s until the new millennium is heartwarmingly painful, beautifully written, and quite an accurate window into what it’s likeContinue reading “Pachinko”

The Pillow Book

The Diary of a Courtesan in Tenth Century Japan By Sei Shōnagon Setting & details: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Authenticity of Japanese characters & dialogue: N/ATranslation quality: N/AEntertainment value: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐My recommendation: This shockingly witty little volume is evidence that just because someone lived a thousand years ago doesn’t mean they weren’t a sharp commentator on human behavior that’s stillContinue reading “The Pillow Book”