Sunday, July 26, 2009

book recommendation (spirit matters)

There are very few scholarly treatments of Miura's works available in English, and what few there are, are usually papers published in academic journals to which most Miura fans, and other readers (i.e. potential fans), do not have easy access. So I was very pleased when I discovered Spirit Matters: The Transcendent in Modern Japanese Literature by Philip Gabriel. Here is a review of the book which I posted on amazon:

A scholarly study of this quality and from this perspective was long overdue. I was especially captivated by the first half of the book, which discusses the works of two contemporary Japanese women authors, Miura Ayako and Sono Ayako. As a passionate fan of Miura Ayako's writing, I was thrilled to see her works taken seriously by a Western scholar, and I find it difficult to understand why it has taken so long for her to be noticed. Gabriel "gets the point" of the books he discusses, he grasps the nuances of the original Japanese, and his analysis is thoughtful, scholarly, and at the same time highly readable. I hope to see more studies of this nature in the near future.

See more reviews and book details here.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

miura ayako book clubs

What is commonly referred to as the "Hyoten Boom" swept through Japan in the years following the publication of Miura Ayako's debut novel Hyoten (Freezing Point, Asahi Shimbunsha, 1964). For the next forty years, Hyoten and the Miura novels that followed it were enormously popular, and many were made into television dramas and films for the silver screen. It may be that Miura's works are not as widely read as they once were, but it is safe to say that there is always a Miura book club going on somewhere in Japan (and most likely Korea as well). In addition to the museum-sponsored book discussions held regularly at the Miura Ayako Literature Museum, the Miura Ayako Dokushokai (Miura Ayako Book-reading Society) organizes book clubs all over Japan. I myself participate in a book club that meets every other month in Sapporo. Our lecturer/discussion leader is Morishita Tatsue, former professor of Japanese literature at Fukuoka Women's University and current special researcher attached to the museum. The society also plans special lectures and tours to locations of significance to Miura Ayako's works. As far as I know, the society's book clubs are all conducted in Japanese. I started the English-language Miura Ayako Book Club group on Facebook a year ago, and strongly encourage English-speakers of any nationality to join us there. If anyone reading this blog knows of other Miura book clubs conducted in English, please post the information in the comments box below.

Friday, July 3, 2009

the wind is howling

The English version of Michi Ariki (Shufunotomo, 1969), the first in Miura's autobiographical series, was translated by Valerie Griffiths and published in the US by InterVarsity Press in 1977 under the title The Wind is Howling. I recently learned that it was republished by OMF (Singapore) in 1990. Anything that makes this book more accessible is welcome news, because it is an excellent introduction to this remarkable writer. Here is part of a review I posted on

Valerie Griffiths' excellent translation and abridgment of the first volume of Ayako Miura's autobiographical Michi Ariki series is a pleasure to read. Miura's unflinching honesty about herself and about the world comes through clearly. The book spans Miura's life from the end of WWII (after she lost faith in all forms of authority, in herself, and in the line that separates truth from falsehood), through long and life-threatening illness, till she finds faith in the God of the Bible and gets married to Mitsuyo Miura. The second (as yet untranslated) volume of the series covers the early years of their marriage and the start of her enormously successful career as a novelist. In the third volume (also untranslated) Miura writes about her Christian faith.

Check out the other reviews of The Wind is Howling on Amazon. It is absolutely worth taking the trouble to track down a copy of this book. A quick search on the internet uncovered many used copies for sale through various vendors. Or ask your local library to get hold of a copy through the library network. A lengthier summary of the book can be found on the Japan Christian Link website for those who are curious about the details.