1. Territory of Light by Yūko Tsushima

Territory of Light is the radiant story of a young woman, living alone in Tokyo with her two-year-old daughter. Its 12 chapters follow the first year of the narrator's separation from her husband. The delicate prose is beautifully patterned: the cumulative effect is disarmingly powerful and bright after-images remain in your mind for a long time.

Territory of Light is the second title to be explored in the Penguin Classics Book Club, so pick up a copy and visit our Facebook and Twitter pages to join the conversation using the hashtag #ClassicsClub.

 

2. The Beauty of Everyday Things by Yanagi Sōetsu

In an age of feeble and ugly machine-made things, these essays call for us to deepen and transform our relationship with the objects that surround us. Inspired by the work of the simple, humble craftsmen Yanagi encountered during his lifelong travels through Japan and Korea, they are an earnest defence of modest, honest, handcrafted things - from traditional teacups to jars to cloth and paper. Objects like these exemplify the enduring appeal of simplicity and function: the beauty of everyday things.

Read an extract.
 

 

3. Dandelions by Yasunari Kawabata

Ineko has lost the ability to see things. At first it was a ping-pong ball, then it was her fiancé. The doctors call it 'body blindness', and she is placed in a psychiatric clinic to recover. As Ineko's mother and fiancé walk along the riverbank after visiting time, they wonder: is her condition a form of madness - or an expression of love? Exploring the distance between us, and what we say without words, Nobel Prize-winning author Yasunari Kawabata's transcendent final novel is the last word from a master of Japanese literature.
 

 

4. The Frolic of the Beasts by Yukio Mishima

The gripping story of an affair gone horribly wrong, from one of Japan's greatest twentieth-century writers, The Frolic of the Beasts explores the masks we wear in life, and what happens when they slip.

Koji, a young student, has fallen hopelessly in love with the beautiful, enigmatic Yuko. But she is married to the literary critic and serial philanderer Ippei. Tormented by desire and anger, Koji is driven to an act of violence that will bind this strange, terrible love triangle together for the rest of their lives.
 

5. The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories edited by Jay Rubin, introduced by Haruki Murakami

This is a celebration of the Japanese short story from its modern origins in the nineteenth century to remarkable contemporary works. It includes the most well-known Japanese writers - Akutagawa, Murakami, Mishima, Kawabata - but also many surprising new pieces, from Yuko Tsushima's 'Flames' to Banana Yoshimoto's 'Bee Honey'. Ranging over myth, horror, love, nature, modern life, a diabolical painting, a cow with a human face and a woman who turns into sugar, The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories is filled with fear, charm, beauty and comedy.
 

6. Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories by Ryünosuke Akutagawa

Ryünosuke Akutagawa (1892-1927) is one of Japan’s foremost stylists - a modernist master whose short stories are marked by highly original imagery, cynicism, beauty and wild humour. ‘Rashömon’ and ‘In a Bamboo Grove’ inspired Kurosawa’s magnificent film and depict a past in which morality is turned upside down, while tales such as ‘The Nose’, ‘O-Gin’ and ‘Loyalty’ paint a rich and imaginative picture of a medieval Japan peopled by Shoguns and priests, vagrants and peasants. And in later works such as ‘Death Register’, ‘The Life of a Stupid Man’ and ‘Spinning Gears’, Akutagawa drew from his own life to devastating effect, revealing his intense melancholy and terror of madness in exquisitely moving impressionistic stories.

 

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