Inside and Other Short Fiction: Japanese Women by Japanese Women

Overview

Fresh, bold, and vibrant, INSIDE AND OTHER SHORT FICTION paints a vivid portrait of the lives of contemporary Japanese women through the most original, thoughtful, and cutting-edge fiction from Japanese women writers today.

With provocative titles such as "PISS," "THE UNFERTILIZED EGG," and "MY SON'S LIPS," these eight short stories explore the issue of female identity in a rapidly changing society, where women have unprecedented sexual and economic freedom. From teens to ...

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Overview

Fresh, bold, and vibrant, INSIDE AND OTHER SHORT FICTION paints a vivid portrait of the lives of contemporary Japanese women through the most original, thoughtful, and cutting-edge fiction from Japanese women writers today.

With provocative titles such as "PISS," "THE UNFERTILIZED EGG," and "MY SON'S LIPS," these eight short stories explore the issue of female identity in a rapidly changing society, where women have unprecedented sexual and economic freedom. From teens to fifties; married, single, divorced; the high school girl, the career woman, the sex worker, the housewife, the mother-this anthology deals frankly and explicitly with a broad range of women's experiences, and showcases the very best of recent writing by Japanese women.

With eight short stories from Amy Yamada, Chiya Fujino, Shungiku Uchida, Tamaki Daido, Rio Shimamoto, Yuzuki Muroi, Junko Hasegawa, and Nobuko Takagi, this anthology presents a range of styles and perspectives from long-established favorites, prize-winning novelists, and outspoken newcomers-many of whom are published here for the first time in English. The foreword is by award-winning Japanese-American novelist Ruth Ozeki, author of MY YEAR OF MEATS, and the jacket art is a section of ID400 by internationally renowned artist Tomoko Sawara, whose striking photo-booth images of herself in various guises question her own identity and the identity of all women.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Bold stories by and about Japanese women who scorn the veneer of politesse and powder..." -Elle Magazine

"Exciting and invaluable" -L. A. Times

"... A provocative introduction to notable contemporary literature by Japanese women."
-Publishers Weekly

"...The work of a group of powerful writers." -Library Journal

"...You'll find no Hollywood geishas here...just women living-and surviving-the challenges of their daily lives." -The Christian Science Monitor

"Divorce, marriage, infidelity, apathy, boredom, and sex are frankly explored ...never sentimental or overwrought...Move over, Haruki Murakami." -Booklist

Publishers Weekly
This collection of eight stories offers a provocative introduction to notable contemporary literature by Japanese women. The savvy, modern protagonists in this volume are enmeshed in the recognizable dramas of women across the industrialized world-sexual awakenings, marriage, desire for children, trust and friendship with other women-but their tales unfold within the distinctive context of an emerging Japanese feminism. Many stories link sex and intimacy with feelings of powerlessness, as in Yuzuki Muroi's sexually explicit and tightly narrated "Piss," which chronicles the harsh working life of a Tokyo prostitute desperate not to slide into invisibility. In the piercing story "The Unfertilized Egg" by Junko Hasegawa, a 36-year-old single working woman crumbles under her family's expectation that she produce a fourth-generation B blood-type Year-of-the-Horse baby. The stories are peppered with adulterous, often lecherous and emotionally unavailable men, with the exception of the adolescent, geeky boyfriend who helps his girlfriend cope with her parents' divorce in Rio Shimamoto's title story, "Inside." Despite several underdeveloped narratives, this engaging collection well illustrates the complex history of social and sexual norms in Japan. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This anthology opens with a foreword by Japanese American author Ruth Ozeki (My Year of Meats) that sets the stage for an important showcase of eight short stories by contemporary Japanese women writers. Although the contributors are all known in Japan, here their power and style is introduced into English. The stories don't focus on the stereotypes of old Japan but explore the issues of female identity in modern Japan. The title piece by Rio Shimamoto is an intimate portrait of a teenage girl's first sexual experience in the midst of her parents' divorce. Shungiku Uchida's "My Son's Lips" follows the travails of a working mother. Amy Yamada (Bedtime Eyes) adds a sophisticated psychological piece, "Fiesta," about a sexually repressed woman. The span of the collection ranges from the sexually explicit to the sophisticated and subtle. Featuring the work of a group of powerful writers, it will fit well into academic and literary collections with a focus on Asian studies and women's literature. Ron Samul, New London, CT Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Eight short stories about contemporary Japanese women grappling with the darker sides of sexuality. Despite having different translators, the volume's first two stories, both of which revolve around teenaged protagonists on the cusp of losing their virginity, have a similar monotone of stoic passivity. The narrator of "Milk," by Tamaki Daido, feels increasingly alienated from her childhood friends, but her new sexual connection with her boyfriend seems a poor substitute. In the title story, by Rio Shimamoto, the narrator witnesses the dissolution of her parents' marriage while she is deciding whether to have sex with her boyfriend. In the third story, "Piss," by Yuzuki Muroi, a 20-year-old prostitute is victimized by her boyfriend as well as by sadistic clients. Her only solace comes from one of her regulars, an older man who drinks her urine. A sense of never-realized threat permeates Shungiku Uchida's "My Son's Lips," in which a working mother reluctantly allows a cab driver to take her and her children to his apartment to advise his wife on housekeeping. Similarly, the divorcee in "Her Room," by Chiya Fujino, agrees against her will to visit a new acquaintance whose neediness verges on menacing. In the volume's last three stories, realism gives way to more experimental explorations of the female psyche. The narrator of Amy Yamada's "Fiesta" is the impulse/emotion Desire whose destiny is determined by the actions of the woman whose body Desire inhabits. The dreams of an unmarried office worker desperate for a child are at the center of "The Unfertilized Egg," by Junko Hasegawa. In the final and richest story, "The Shadow of the Orchid," by Nobuko Takagi, a housewife's jealousy of hersurgeon husband's dead patient conjures up the young woman through an orchid she gave the doctor before her death. Not exactly cheery or uplifting-as if the eight women writers share the same depressed consciousness.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9784770030061
  • Publisher: Kodansha International
  • Publication date: 5/19/2006
  • Pages: 250
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

RUTH OZEKI is the popular and award-winning Japanese-American author of My Year of Meats and All Over Creation. She divides her time between New York and British Columbia.

The jacket art is a section of ID400 by TOMOKO SAWADA, an artist famous both in Japan and overseas for striking photographic images that question the identity of women.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 3, 2009

    Some Views of Women in Japan today

    This is a collection of stories all involving women or girls in present day Japan. Themes include sexuality, coming of age, empty nest syndrome and the ticking of the baby clock.

    There is an odd sameness to the writing style although all stories are by different authors. This may be due to the translation.

    It is quite a good window into aspects of the modern day culture of Japan with a focus on the female experience.Western readers may be surprised at the number of Western cultural references. (films especially)

    Food eaten by the characters is truly Japanese though no one seems to be eating sushi. :-)

    The overall effect is somewhat depressing as no one in these stories seems especially connected or happy. An exception is Inside, the title story that had some real warmth and feeling to it.

    A quick and interesting read overal

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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