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“What it is to Read in Japanese” by Minae Mizumura

I read essays of Mizumura, which is a sister book of “What it is to Write in Japanese”. As compared to the other one, this is in a way her love letters to books which she cherishes. She writes about her favorite books, the difficulty of translation, and the correlation between reading and writing. She also pays homage to her beloved authors including Shuichi Kato.

Mizumura writes that writing is inextricably interconnected with reading. To someone who went to America at the age of 12 and since then continuously immersed herself in the world of Japanese literature of the Meiji and Taisho periods, the language in which she found herself most comfortable was the one of Soseki. Hence, her debut work was an attempt to continue “The Light and Darkness”, which is his last work and unfinished. She once explained that when she debuted as a writer, the only thing she wanted to do was to write her novel in the language of Soseki. Now that her works have been translated into English, the word choice could be unconsciously affected with the translation in mind, she continued.

Mizumura’s writing through which I can see Soseki always fascinates me.

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