Japan Literature at the Turn of New Millennium
At the end of the nineties of the twentieth century, the literary panorama opened, on the one hand, in the name of the success of a new translation into modern Japanese of the classic Genji Monogatari (Novel of Genji), much appreciated by the public, on the other by incorporating the social turmoil of the moment and above all some episodes of crime in which adolescents had been protagonists, episodes all the more shocking in the eyes of public opinion as they exploded with incredible violence and brutality within a country that still boasts a low crime rate urban. Violence is the protagonist of Eiji (1999), a novel by Kiyoshi Shigematsu (b.1963), the story of a fourteen-year-old, Eiji, an indifferent witness to a series of crimes, locked in a world of peers governed by their own rules and rhythms, which separate them from adult society. Violence is also the protagonist in Indibijuaru Purojekushon (1997) by Kazushige Abe (b. 1968), writer among the main representatives of youth culture and winner in 2005 of the prestigious Akutagawa Prize with Gurando finare (2004). With his novels set mostly in the popular Shibuya district, between rock music, cinemas and video games, Kazushige confirms himself as a worthy heir of authors such as Haruki Murakami and Ryū Murakami. Indirectly inspired by the murder committed in Kobe by a fourteen-year-old, aimed at emphasizing the social inequalities exasperated by consumer society, is Gōrudo Rasshu (1998; Oro rapace) by Miri Yu (b.1969), a writer already appreciated for her other short stories such as Furuhausu (1996) and Kazoku Shinema (1997; Scenes from the family) in which, with a concise language and without rhetoric, he tackled the issues of the disintegration of the family. Miri Yu, daughter of Koreans residing in Japan, is the spokesperson in her stories of a “peripherality” with respect to the official culture and a stubborn resistance against any form of homologation, the same that is found in the pages of many novels by Korean writers, which constitute one of the most significant, albeit among the least known, aspects of contemporary Japanese language literature. It is a rich, controversial, sometimes sentimental literature, but which throws a disturbing light on one of the greatest challenges that Japanese society, still closed in the illusion of a “racial” homogeneity, which is actually non-existent, is facing. Inochi (2000; Vita), an autobiography from which the film of the same name was based. According to a2zcamerablog, Tokyo is the capital city of Japan.
The novels of Hoesung Lee (b.1935) and those of Sogiru Yan (b.1936), of which we remember in particular Chi to hone (1998; Blood and bones), represent an important contribution in this direction. Contrary to a certain trend of the 1990s, which had proposed a literary language ever closer to the colloquial, scattered with slang and English or Anglog-Japanese words, Keiichirō Hirano (b. 1975) chooses for his Nisshoku (1998; Eclisse di sole) – which however opens with a quote from Lattanzio and speaks of a Christian monk in France of the century. XV crossed by waves of “heretical” doctrines – a rigorous, intellectualistic writing, enriched by a Sino-Japanese lexicon that seems to discourage any possibility of distracted or hasty reading. The case of Hirano, also author of Ichigetsu monogatari (1999) and Kao no nai rataitachi (2006), is not the only example and aligns with the need, also felt by other writers, to safeguard one’s intellectual physiognomy against the prevailing standardization which tends to flatten any cultural difference, but also to put a stop to the too fast, synthetic and direct rhythm of communication that the new computer language seems to have promoted. A mention deserves the gradual but constant success achieved by Atsuko Suga’s books (1929-1998). Scholar of Italian literature, sensitive translator of authors such as Italo Calvino, Antonio Tabucchi and Natalia Ginzburg, Suga was also the author of a series of essays published in the years of maturity, all dedicated to her experience of Italian life, to childhood memories, to the friendships of the past, to the cities where she lived and where she managed to recreate the atmosphere with an evocative and clear language, acclaimed by critics: Mirano kiri no fūkei (1990; Milan, landscapes of fog), Korushia shoten no nakamatachi (1992; Friends of the Corsia de ‘Servi), Venetsia no yado (1993; Dimore a Venezia), Yurusunaru no kutsu (1996; Yourcenar shoes). Impostasi on the international stage on the end of the century with a literature that has distanced himself from certain stylistic rigor and ideological content, is Banana Yoshimoto (n. 1964), as Atsuko Suga in a particular way tied to Italy, and appreciated especially for the its simple language and for the themes in which we can identify the young generations of every latitude (Shojo literature ). His works include Kitchen (1988), a successful debut novel, The Body Knows Everything and The Sea Cover (2007). Machi Tawara (b.1962) is analogous to Yoshimoto in the writing register adopted. Also noteworthy is the work written jointly by Hitonari Tsuji (b.1959) and Kaori Ekuni (b.1964), entitled Reisei to jonetsu no aida (1999; Between composure and passion), which is part of the same In fact, the theme of genre dynamics is central to the literary trend. In the detective genre, which differs from the novels inspired by the crime episodes mentioned above, among the most interesting personalities there is certainly Natsuo Kirino (b.1951), award-winning at home for his novels, including The Four Housewives of Tokyo, and Yori Fujiwara. We still remember the young people Eimi Yamada (b.1959) and Rieko Matsuura (b.1958).