Read Real Japanese Fiction

Short Stories by Contemporary Writers

  • Michael Emmerich
  • Narrated by Reiko Matsunaga
  • Jacket art by Yoshitomo Nara
Read Real Japanese Fiction

Size: 210×140 mm, 350 g
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 256
1 free CD included, built-in Japanese-English dictionary
ISBN10: 1-56836-529-2
ISBN13: 978-1-56836-529-9
Release date: June 1, 2008

List price: $24.00

Buy online:

  • 6 short stories in vertical text with translations of all the complex passages
  • Japanese-English dictionary for quick lookup, tailored to your needs
  • Notes explain subtleties of nuance, usage, grammar, and culture
  • Free CD with audio narrations performed by a professional actress
  • Profiles of the individual writers place the stories in context

There is a world of difference between reading Japanese that has been specially contrived for students and reading real Japanese—that is, real-world Japanese written for native speakers. The contrived variety might be called schoolmarm Japanese: standard to the point of insipidity, controlled to the point of domestication, restricted to the point of impoverishment. The Read Real Japanese series, comprising one volume each of essays and fiction, provides the real thing—lively writings by contemporary authors.

Read Real Japanese Fiction presents short works by six outstanding writers, from popular to avant-garde. The spellbinding world of Hiromi Kawakami; the hair-raising short horror of Otsuichi; the haunting prose of Banana Yoshimoto; even the poetic wordplay of Yoko Tawada—whatever your taste, you are sure to find some stories in this book that bowl you over and leave you wanting more.

Following the form of real Japanese novels, the text runs from top to bottom, right to left. To guide you in your reading, each double-page spread features translations of nearly every sentence or phrase, making it possible to understand the meaning at a glance. Moreover, in the back of the book is a tailor-made Japanese-English dictionary covering all the words appearing in the stories, and a series of notes that elucidate issues of nuance, usage, grammar, and culture. Best of all, the book comes with a free audio CD containing narrations of the works, performed by a professional actress. This will help you to get used to the sounds and rhythms of Japanese, as well as the speed at which the language is normally spoken.

Whether you are a dedicated student or a dabbler, and regardless of your mode of study, Read Real Japanese Fiction will serve as your gateway to the pleasures of reading contemporary Japanese fiction—in the original.


About the Author

Michael Emmerich graduated from Princeton University. After completing an MA in Japanese literature at Ritsumeikan University, he went on to earn a PhD in the same field from Columbia University. He is the highly acclaimed translator of Nobel laureate Yasunari Kawabata's First Snow on Fuji; Banana Yoshimoto's Asleep, Goodbye Tsugumi, and Hardboiled & Hard Luck; Genichiro Takahashi's Sayonara Gangsters; Mari Akasaka's Vibrator, Taichi Yamada's In Search of a Distant Voice; and Rieko Matsuura's The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P (forthcoming).

Reiko Matsunaga was born in Osaka. She is a stage and television actress who regularly performs for the troupe Nylon 100ºC. She is also active as an essayist and a rakugo performer. She has starred in the plays Frozen Beach, Disappearance (both Nylon 100ºC productions), and Distress Call (by the Motoya Yukiko Theater company); in the NHK television series Chiritotechin; and in the film The Suspect: Muroi Shinji. She has a personal website at