Another year, another fantastic list of upcoming releases featuring amazing writers. If you love Japanese literature, consider joining our book club. It’s free!
The Water Mill House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji, translated by Ho-Ling Wong
From the author of The Decagon House Murders comes a classic whodunnit mystery set in a remote, castle-like mansion. Originally published in Japanese in 1988, this brilliantly constructed page-turner is the perfect read for a dark and stormy night. Kiyoshi Shimada takes the case as a regular gathering at Water Mill House is disrupted by a mysterious disappearance combined, a painting theft and — of course — a series of murders.
Publish date: Feb 23 (UK), Mar 14 (US)
The Flowers of Buffoonery by Osamu Dazai, translated by Sam Bett
A complement to Osamu Dazai’s oeuvre No Longer Human, The Flowers of Buffoonery takes a more lighthearted approach to the grisly reality of what often goes on in the human mind. We encounter Yozo Oba — No Longer Human’s narrator — at a seaside sanitarium as he convalesces after a failed attempt on his own life. Dark humor pervades the story as the characters navigate the wretched hardships of life and the human condition.
Publish date: Mar 7 (US), Apr 7 (UK)
Love at Six Thousand Degrees by Maki Kashimada, translated by Hadyn Trowell
Winner of the 2005 Mishima Yukio Prize, Love at Six Thousand Degrees takes inspiration from Marguerite Duras’s screenplay for the 1959 film Hiroshima Mon Amour. An exemplary novel showcasing Kashimada’s distinctive literary style and rich character portrayal, the story digs deep into both the protagonist’s personal and a broader national trauma. A housewife haunted by visions of a giant mushroom cloud leaves her family to travel to Nagasaki, where she begins an affair with a much younger half-Russian, half-Japanese man.
Publish date: Mar 7 (US)
The Narrow Cage and Other Modern Fairy Tales by Vasily Eroshenko, translated by Adam Kuplowsky
Vasily Eroshenko lived an extraordinary life. A blind globe-trotting polyglot with a penchant for political fairy tales, Eroshenko found an audience in Japan and lived there until his deportation in 1921 for his political activist affiliations. This collection of stories — translated from Japanese and Esperanto — is a treasure trove of inventive and sometimes subversive fables that transcend borders.
Publish date: Mar 7 (US)
Fractured Soul by Akira Mizubayashi, translated by Alison Anderson
Translated from French and awarded the esteemed Prix des Libraires in France, Fractured Soul is a parable of loss and gain. In the lead-up to World War II, violinist Yu and his fellow quartet members are attacked by military police interrupting their rehearsal. In the skirmish, Yu’s violin is broken but his son Rei — later known as Jacques — rescues it and dedicates his life to repairing it. He loses faith, but a chance meeting rekindles his courage and desire to see his plan to the end.
Publish date: Mar 14 (US), Apr 30 (UK)
Hit Parade of Tears by Izumi Suzuki, translated by Sam Bett, David Boyd, Daniel Joseph and Helen O’Horan
Hit Parade of Tears is brilliant follow-up to the 2021 release of Terminal Boredom from cult author Izumi Suzuki. Even decades after her death, Suzuki’s sci-fi fantasy worlds feel fresh. The 11 stories in this deeply unsettling and imaginative collection are sure to enthrall, disturb and entertain. Readers of Terminal Boredom will spy a familiar face in one of the tales — Emma — as she navigates a strange romantic predicament. Highlights include space pirate adventures, unimpressed youths traveling between dimensions and a shocking punishment for a philanderer.
Publish date: Apr 11 (UK & US)
Honeybees and Distant Thunder by Riku Onda, translated by Philip Gabriel
Centered around an intense piano competition in a small coastal town near Tokyo, Honeybees and Distant Thunder throws three students into a tumultuous two weeks of rule breaking, concert masterpieces and everlasting friendship against all odds. These unlikely rivals have mixed backgrounds: One is a former child prodigy desperate to make a comeback and another her childhood friend, while the third — the most intriguing of them all — is the son of a beekeeper with no formal music education at all.
Publish date: May 2 (US), May 4 (UK)
Mild Vertigo by Mieko Kanai, translated by Polly Barton
Esteemed essayist and novelist Mieko Kanai presents a mind-bending stream-of-consciousness novel that deals with the trappings of domestic life. Natsumi, a typical housewife goes about her business doing laundry, cleaning up after her husband and two sons, gossiping with neighbors — all accompanied by a dizzying internal monologue. The book explores the dull minutiae of modern middle-class existence, where nothing really happens yet there is an inescapable busyness, often coupled with a deep sense of loneliness.
Publish date: May 2 (US)
The Rope Artist by Fuminori Nakamura, translated by Sam Bett
An explosive mystery with gruesome tangles that are typical of Fuminori Nakamura, The Rope Artist sends two detectives into the underground world of Japan’s BDSM scene. As the dead bodies multiply, detectives Hayama and Togashi must battle with their own morality and desires to find the truth.
Publish date: May 2 (US)
The Rainbow by Yasunari Kawabata
Set in the years shortly after the end of World War II, Yasunari Kawabata’s The Rainbow is a haunting coming-of-age tale in a time when everything has fallen apart. Two half-sisters pick up the pieces of their shattered lives while navigating the traumas of war. Momoko grieves her kamikaze boyfriend with a slew of unhealthy relationships, while Asako seeks another, third, sibling.
Publish date: May 30 (US & UK)
People Who Talk to Stuffed Animals by Ao Omae, translated by Emily Balistrieri
A vivid collection of three short stories and one titular novella, People Who Talk to Stuffed Animals captures the inner battles and outer frustrations of those dealing with the unyielding pressure of gender norms and the burdens that come with them.
Publish date: Jun 6 (US)
The Devil’s Flute Murders by Seishi Yokomizo, translated by Jim Rion
One of Japan’s most famous detectives, Kosuke Kindaichi is on the case again. This masterful locked-room murder mystery centers on a composer’s feuding family, after his disappearance following a scandal and eventual untimely death. The eponymous devil’s flute hints at one of the composer’s most curious compositions, which can be heard playing throughout the home with no apparent source.
Publish date: Jun 29 (UK), Jul 4 (US)
The Forest Brims Over by Maru Ayase, translated by Haydn Trowell
The first of Maru Ayase’s 17 novels to be translated into English, The Forest Brims Over blurs the boundaries between reality and fantasy. Protagonist Rui Nowatari’s husband has slowly destroyed her integrity and robbed her autonomy by using her as “inspiration” for his novels. Fed up, Nowatarai eats a bowl of seeds and suddenly begins to sprout buds, roots and leaves all over her body, gradually expanding beyond her home and into the city.
Publish date: Jul 25 (US)
The End of August by Yu Miri, translated by Morgan Giles
This multi-generational epic tale follows a Korean family’s stories tied together by the Japanese occupation of Korea. From a marathon runner’s dilemma during the 1930s to his granddaughter’s soul-searching in Japan almost a century later, the ghosts of the past live on through the horrors they endured.
Publish date: Aug 1 (US)
The Tatami Time Machine Blues by Tomihiko Morimi, translated by Emily Balistrieri
This scintillating sequel to The Tatami Galaxy sends readers spinning through an extreme attempt at petty revenge. When The Tatami Time Machine Blues protagonist has a falling out with his friend Ozu over a broken remote control — which means they are stuck in the sizzling heat of a Kyoto summer with no way to cool themselves — he plans revenge. By lucky chance he meets Tamura, a self-purported time traveler from 25 years in the future and plots to go back in time to retrieve the still functioning remote control. As is often the case when people try to change the past, hilarious and horrifying complications ensue.
Publish date: Sep 12 (US)