By Kafū Nagai, Mitsuko Iriye
Nagai Kafu is among the maximum smooth jap writers, yet formerly his vintage assortment, American tales, in response to his sojourn from Japan to Washington country, Michigan, and ny urban within the early years of the 20th century, hasn't ever been to be had in English. right here, with a close and insightful creation, is a chic translation of Kafu's perceptive and lyrical account.
Like de Tocqueville a century ahead of, Kafu casts a clean, willing eye on shiny and sundry the USA -- international festivals, live performance halls, and school campuses; saloons, the immigrant underclass, and red-light districts. a lot of his vignettes contain encounters with fellow jap or chinese language immigrants, a few of whom are poorly paid employees dealing with day-by-day discrimination. The tales paint a extensive panorama of the demanding situations of yankee lifestyles for the bad, the overseas born, and the disaffected, peopled with crisp person snap shots that exhibit the day-by-day disappointments and coffee euphorias of contemporary life.
Translator Mitsuko Iriye's advent presents vital cultural and biographical heritage approximately Kafu's upbringing in quickly modernizing Japan, in addition to literary context for this assortment. within the first tale, "Night speak in a Cabin," 3 younger males crusing from Japan to Seattle every one exhibit how negative clients, shattered self assurance, or a damaged center has pushed him to hunt a greater lifestyles overseas. In "Atop the Hill," the narrator meets a fellow jap expatriate at a small midwestern spiritual collage, who slowly finds his advanced purposes for forsaking his spouse in Japan. stuck among the pleasures of America's towns and the stoicism of its small cities, he wonders if he can ever go back home.
Kafu performs with the contradictions and complexities of early twentieth-century the USA, revealing the tawdry, bad, and mundane underside of latest York's glamour in "Ladies of the Night" whereas celebrating the ingenuity, cosmopolitanism, and freedom of the yank urban in "Two Days in Chicago." instantaneously delicate and witty, based and gritty, those tales offer a nuanced outsider's view of the U.S. and an ideal front into glossy jap literature.
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Additional resources for American Stories
B u t M rs. Jo h an sso n show ed a pass to the m an at the door, and he gru d gin g ly let us in. H e held a large rin g o f keys in his hand, like the gu ard who had let us into the Central Prison the day b efo re to see Godot. M y hostess, having • 39 • delivered m e into the hands o f this C erberus, said she would call fo r me in the m orn in g at the hotel; she told me to look throu gh the library in peace, the gendem an would call me a cab, he was at my disposal . . W hat could I do but accept her kind o ffer?
T h e y had spades, shovels, and axes slung o ver their shoulders. T h e whole village, everythin g that could m ove, cam e ru n n in g after them. News that an Egyptian sorcerer had ap p eared and was going to w ork a m iracle had sp read rapidly. “ Six cubits d ee p ,” Sim on repeated. T h e laborers set to work, and soon the sandy surface * 2 2 * had been replaced by some rather coarse gravel, then by a layer o f d ry, reddish earth. T h e shovels kept turn in g up clay with traces o f roots in it; earthw orm s, sliced in two by the sharp blades, w riggled and w rithed in the sun as i f roasting in living fire.
Y e s,” Peter continued. “ H e has m ade a calling o f m ir acles and . ” “ I thought carp en try was his calling,” said Sim on. “ A n d ch arity,” said Peter. ” “ T h a t’s easily said,” Peter replied, with a quiver in his voice. “ H e’s picked up all kinds o f tricks in the bazaars o f E g y p t,” said one o f P eter’s disciples. — he could have studied Egyptian m agic, too,” said Sim on. “ His m iracles occurred m ore than once,” said Peter. “ B u ry me in the earth, six cubits d ee p ,” said Sim on after b rie f deliberation.
American Stories by Kafū Nagai, Mitsuko Iriye