J-Lit Giants

This is a series of brief biographies of famous Japanese writers, telling you who’s who in J-Lit and what you should be reading!  Feel free to leave a comment if you would like to add a J-Lit Giant of your own 🙂

Click on the link below to go to the bio – unless stated, all posts are by Tony of Tony’s Reading List.

1) Natsume Soseki
2) Yukio Mishima
3) Ryuichi Tamura (by Gary of The Parrish Lantern)
4) Jun’ichiro Tanizaki
5) Osamu Dazai (by Patrick of my so-called research)
6) Kobo Abe (by Gary of The Parrish Lantern)
7) Haruki Murakami
8) Yoko Ogawa
9) Shūsaku Endō (by Matt of A Novel Approach)
10) Yasunari Kawabata
11) Kenzaburo Oe
12) Banana Yoshimoto
13) Ryū Murakami
14) Yoriko Shōno  (by Morgan Giles)
15) Fumiko Enchi (by Carola of brilliant years)
16) Mori Ogai (by Louis Bravos


About Tony

Championing the wonders of fiction in translation... ...but quietly (the kids are asleep...).
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6 Responses to J-Lit Giants

  1. Where are the women, Tony, where are the women? Such as, say, Sawako Ariyoshi? (My review of her The doctor's wife is one of my all time top hits). (BTW, I will not see your reply to this as we WordPress people don't get notified of comments on Blogger)


  2. Tony says:

    whisperinggums – There are a few reasons why there are no women on this list. Firstly, the big names in J-Lit are virtually all men. While there are other good female writers I could think of (e.g. Fumiko Hayashi, Ichiyo Higuchi), in my opinion there are few women who would automatically make it onto a restricted shortlist like this one (the final count will be seven for this year).

    Secondly, I've only chosen writers I've read enough by to be able to give informed recommendations about – Banana Yoshimoto is the only female writer to fit the bill so far (and I couldn't bring myself to choose her just yet!). I suspect that next time Yoko Ogawa will be near the top of the list.

    Thirdly, no guest contributors suggested female writers either! I was hoping that someone would offer to post on a female writer, but…

    I'd be happy to have someone write a post on a female J-Lit Giant(ess?), but unless I make this an ongoing feature, I'm afraid it may have to wait until next year now 😉


  3. Ah yes, virtually all, but not totally all! What about Tale of the Genji? Anyhow, next year, perhaps, as you say!

    Meanwhile, are you going to do Yusanari Kawabata?


  4. Tony says:

    whisperinggums – Hmm, but that's only one book really (as would be the case with Sei Shonagon's 'Pillow Book') – I was looking for writers where I could recommend three good starter works…

    As for Kawabata, that's a bit of an oversight on my part – I actually half thought I *had* done one! Next year 😉


  5. Umm, Ogawa is a woman, no. 8?
    Great list though. I have only read Murakami and Ogawa, so something to be getting on with here. WG, I will follow up your leads too.


  6. Tony Malone says:

    Genevieve – Those comments were written after the 2013 series (1-7), where there were no women; the last two years have been a little more balanced (three men and two women each time) 🙂


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