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Sunday, Dec. 30, 2007

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BEST OF BOOKS

Need something to read in the new year?


THE COLUMBIA ANTHOLOGY OF MODERN JAPANESE LITERATURE: Volume 2 — From 1945 to the Present, edited by J. Thomas Rimer and Van C. Gessel (Columbia University)

Donald Richie

Here, spanning almost six decades, is the second volume of Columbia University's monumental collection of representative modern Japanese literature. Now complete, the anthology is revealed as certainly the largest and perhaps the one that best bridges the gulf between the literary expert and the common reader. The structure is kept purposely loose so that writing is not confined by the presentation. This is a necessity to which the editors are sensitive since each has had wide experience with anthologies.

Read the full review of "The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature."

The line referred to in this excellent biography of the troubled artist Foujita Tsuguharu (1886-1968) is that "thin line of amazing flexibility and grace" that "outlined cat and nudes alike." The artist himself, caught between East and West, has happily here had his likeness completely caught, his whole, wonderful, terrible, happy and sad saga now preserved for us. He is fortunate in that, in this first full-length biography, he has found a chronicler of the caliber of Phyllis Birnbaum.

Read the full review of "Glory in a Line"

TALES OF MOONLIGHT AND RAIN by Ueda Akinari, translated by Anthony H. Chambers (Columbia University)

Ueda Akinari, scholar and poet, is now remembered for this collection of nine stories, first published in 1776. It has remained among the best-known of Japanese classics, and is even more famous in Kenji Mizoguchi's 1953 film version. Among the reasons for its high literary standing is what has been called its "poetic style, its eerie beauty, and its skillful use of literary archetypes." It is these devices of traditional poetry and drama that are masterfully employed by Anthony Chambers in a diction that is of the utmost elegance.

Read the full review of "Tales of Moonlight and Rain."

Donald Richie served in the Maritime Service during World War II and in 1947 came to Japan where he became a film critic for The Japan Times. He has been a resident for over 60 years and written a number of books. At present, he is an arts critic for The Japan Times and was named by TIME magazine "the dean of Japan's art critics." Susan Sontag once said "Donald Richie writes about Japan with an unrivaled range, acuity and wit."


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