These classic works of Japanese literature are definitely worth making a cup of tea and getting comfortable for
We love browsing at the best bookstores in the city and reading everything from graphic novels to literature by Chinese authors. Japanese authors are known for their melancholic writing style, as well as the suppressive nature of the fictional characters they create. While Japanese literature is quite different from English fiction, it’s just as appealing, and to get you started, we’re sharing some of our favourite books by Japanese authors.
Add to your reading list with these books by Japanese authors
No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai (1948)
Having tried to commit suicide five times, Osamu Dazai is known for his brilliant portrayal of suffering. The title No Longer Human refers to when an individual no longer deserves to be treated as a person. Depicting the self-destructive nature of protagonist Ōba Yōzō – from his messed up relationship with women to becoming an alcoholic and a morphine addict – it has become one of the most celebrated literature by modern Japanese authors.
Kokoro by Natsume Sōseki (1914)
Regarded as one of the most prominent Japanese authors, Sōseki’s Kokoro (meaning heart or feelings in English) delivers something true about loneliness. Revolving around the lives of the narrative and his Sensei, the story taps into different themes, including broken families, betrayal, nihilism and how money inevitably brings out the monsters in mankind.
Rashōmon by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa (1915)
This short story recounts the happenings between a starving servant and an old woman who steals hair from dead bodies to survive at Rashōmon. When you’re facing life and death situation, would you rather take the high road or do what you have to do? What’s human nature?
Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima (1949)
Confessions of a Mask touches upon issues on homosexuality, despair, family, friendship and betrayal. It’s a great story about an adolescent trying to put on a disguise in post-war Japan, driving himself to self-despair, hence the word “mask”. The book has made Mishima a national literature figure despite only being in his early twenties when it was written.
Seven Japanese Tales by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki (1963)
Jun’ichirō Tanizaki is amazing at illustrating distorted love and unfathomable beauty. The seven stories from Seven Japanese Tales focus on love, fetishism and self-annihilation, and they are prime examples of how desires can thrive in crooked ways.
Want to discover more art and culture happenings in Hong Kong? Learn more about Shakespeare’s Globe and its three plays in Hong Kong, read our interview with local illustrator Kylie Chan or find out why Lim Tse-Wei moved from model to photographer.