Book: Japanese Short Stories

Japanese Short Stories

Ryunosuke Akutagawa is lauded as the father of short stories in Japan. I’ve heard a good deal about a number of his stories, but this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to read them. In this collection that I read, majority of the stories took characters from popular folklore or famous people in history and spun a story from it. It’s really interesting and each story has this point of impact which I haven’t really experienced in other short stories. I’m not sure how to describe it, but his turning point is very powerful. Perhaps a better way of describing it is that his stories have a slow and steady progression which leads to a climax that is well thought out and because of that it lingers in the reader’s mind.

I think the stories were great and of such a variety. They were easy to read and display an eastern (japanese) mentality that is really very different from the west. Culture really does come across powerfully in books. It’s amazing. Even the time period in which the author writes is somehow conveyed in their stories. I’ve never really realized that as clearly as I have in this collection.

The next two posts will concentrate on two particular stories – The Hell Screen and The Spider’s Thread both of which were adapted in Aoi Bungaku. So expect that soon.

2 Responses to “Book: Japanese Short Stories”
  1. Genki Jason says:

    Ryunosuke Akutagawa is one of the all-time great writers. I first read a Penguin collection of his stories back in… 2008 and I was floored by most of them. You’re spot on about each story having a point of impact. I felt moved by most of them. It was also the first time that I realised that Rashomon the film connects two different Akutagawa stories!

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