From Haruki Murakami to Mieko Kawakami, translated Japanese literature is becoming increasingly popular abroad. 2024 is bringing many new titles to the literary scene. From poignant memoirs to Japanese yokai stories translated into English for the first time, we’ve selected a list of 10 new Japan-related books to look out for this year.

1. Secrets of the Sun: A Memoir by Mako Yoshikawa

Mako Yoshikawa’s heartfelt memoir navigates the complexities of her brilliant yet abusive physicist father, Shoichi. Shoichi wrestled with bipolar disorder and societal expectations, and this chronicle of his life unfolds through themes of racism, mental illness and cultural displacement. Yoshikawa explores her father’s enigma, weaving a compassionate family portrait that confronts both his intellectual faculties and his violence.

Publish date: Feb 8

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2. The Kamogawa Food Detectives by Hisashi Kashiwai,
translated by Jesse Kirkwood

The first installment of a bestselling Japanese series, The Kamogawa Food Detectives introduces Koishi Kamogawa and her father, Nagare, who together run a Kyoto restaurant. Beyond serving extravagant meals, they are so-called food detectives, recreating dishes from customers’ cherished memories. This heartwarming tale explores the magic of good company and the transformative power of a delicious meal.

Publish date: Feb 13

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3. Point Zero by Seicho Matsumoto,
translated by Louise Heal Kawai

Matsumoto’s 1959 crime novel, a socially critical narrative on postwar Japanese prostitution for GIs, defies prewar mystery norms. Set in 1958 Tokyo, it follows Teiko, a determined housewife, as she searches for her missing husband—and uncovers a murder linked to the taboo “pan-pan girls”in the process. Suspense and societal critique blend beautifully in this intriguing read.

Publish date: Feb 15 (UK), Mar 26 (US)

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4. Harlequin Butterfly by Toh En Joe,
translated by David Boyd

This surreal literary caper centers on A.A. Abrams, an entrepreneur determined to uncover the true identity of Tomoyuki Tomoyuki, a mysterious writer who effortlessly crafts works in dozens of languages. Abrams invests boundless resources in unraveling the enigma, leading to a dizzying journey of puzzles within puzzles.

Publish date: Feb 29 (UK), Mar 5 (US)

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5. Someone to Watch Over You by Kumi Kimura,
translated by Asa Yoneda

Set in early 2020 amid the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, this unsettling debut novella explores the unusual connection between two lonely individuals seeking to escape their troubled pasts. Living together but communicating through notes, the two form a relationship that provides them with a peculiar sense of privacy and safety. Their story is one of disconnection and disruptive change.

Publish date: Feb 29 (UK), Jun 25 (US)

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6. Cannibals by Shinya Tanaka,
translated by Kalau Almony

In the blistering summer of 1988, 17-year-old Shinogaki Toma struggles against the fear of inheriting his sadistic father’s nature. His mother, a fishmonger with a wartime injury, lives across the river from her estranged husband and son. Tensions escalate when his father’s girlfriend gets pregnant and decides to leave him, marking a shift in everyone’s relationships with each other and the small riverside town they live in. Cover art by Jun Kawana.

Publish date: Mar 29 (UK)

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7. The Snow Woman and Other Yokai Stories from Japan by Noboru Wada,
translated by William Scott Wilson

The Snow Woman and Other Yokai Stories from Japan, compiled by Noboru Wada, presents 79 Japanese folk tales—many translated into English for the first time. These stories, featuring yokai, ghosts, witches and demons, originate from the Shinshuregion (modern-day Nagano Prefecture). The captivating tales, passed down through generations, capture the essence of Japanese folklore.

Publish date: Apr 16

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8. The Night of Baba Yaga by Akira Otani,
translated by Sam Bett

Otani’s explosive debut navigates gender and time, offering a gripping, unbreakable thriller. Set in 1979 Tokyo, The Night of Baba Yaga follows outcast Yoriko Shindo, who becomes the bodyguard for Shoko Naiki, a yakuza boss’s daughter. Shindo’s fierce protection evolves into a deep bond, creating a safe zone while challenging societal norms.

Publish date: Jul 2

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9. Mina’s Matchbox by Yoko Ogawa,
translated by Stephen B. Snyder

In Yoko Ogawa’s Mina’s Matchbox, set in 1972, unfolds a powerful interlude, revealing a family on the brink of collapse. Our protagonist, 12-year-old Tomoko, joins her affluent relatives in Ashiya, Hyogo Prefecture. The mansion, symbolizing status and wealth, conceals buried secrets. Tomoko navigates the beguiling dynamics: her mysterious aunt, charming uncle and precocious cousin Mina.

Publish date: Aug 13 (US), Aug 15 (UK)

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10. First Love by Rio Shimamoto,
translated by Louise Heal Kawai

Winner of the 2018 Naoki Prize, First Love was lauded for its depiction of intense human drama and connections. This courtroom thriller centers around two women processing their trauma in their own ways, finding solace in their methods and in each other. A movie based on the book was released in 2021, starring Keiko Kitagawa and Tomoya Nakamura.

Publish date: Nov (exact date TBD) (UK)

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