Tokyo: a vastly expanding, densely populated and fast-paced metropolitan core that is grounded in traditional Japanese conventions. The sheer diversity of its people’s coupled with the remoteness of its culture make this city a truly fascinating subject for literature. To prepare for The Book of Tokyo – released early 2015 by Comma Press – here is a small selection of books that are inspired by or based upon Tokyo; past and present.
After Dark – Haruki Murakami
‘アフターダーク Afutā Dāku
Set over the course of one night, this novel centers around themes of time, alienation and the crossover between reality and dream. Each chapter begins with an image of a clock depicting the passage of time throughout the night. ‘a streamlined, hushed ensemble piece’ New York Times Haruki Murakami is one of Japan’s most well know authors and his work has been translated into over 50 languages. (2004: Harvill Press, UK)
This is a family memoir from a British ceramic artist – Edmund de Waal. The Ephrussi family, de Waal’s heritage and a very wealthy Jewish banking dynasty, lost everything in 1938 when the Nazis aryanized their property. Stripped of an extensive estate, including priceless artwork, this story is about a surviving collection of 264 Japanese netsuke miniature sculptures that were tucked safely away during the war. These sculptures provide a narrative thread for the tale that spans a history from 1871 to 2009. Edmund de Waal was born in 1964 in Nottingam, England. This is his first novel. (2010: Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Published as a book in 1969, this story begins in the Taishō era (1912-1926 under the reign of emperor Taishō) focusing upon the relationship between the son of a rising nouveau-rich family and the daughter of a declining aristocratic heritage. This book draws out some of the conflict that arose during the early westernisation of Japanese society. This is the first in Mishima’s The Sea of Fertility tetralogy. Yukio Mishima is the pen name of Kimitake Hiraoka, one of the most important Japanese authors of the 20th century. Born in 1925 in Tokyo. (1969: Alfred A. Knopf)
A young Japanese student, Eiki Miyake, is new to Tokyo and on a journey to find his missing father, whom he has never met. Steering away from the ‘journey of self-discovery’ generic coming-of-age novel, this book combines action, detective and subtly romantic themes in poetic vision of a Tokyo adventure. David Mitchell was born in 1969 in Merseyside, England. This is his second novel. (2001: Sceptre)