Contemporary Japanese Literature
Modern Japan fascinates Westerners. Its industrial and technological advances challenge us. Its ancient traditions and venerable culture intrigue us. We wonder how a people living in an area the size of Montana could have survived the devastation of World War II to become one of the most productive nations on Earth. The engimas of the Japanese spirit can be explained through the nation’s literature. Gifted writers reveal the nature of modern Japan.
This series on the literature of modern Japan provides an opportunity to read and discuss outstanding works that might otherwise go unopened.
- Kokoro by Natsume Sôseki
- Tokyo Story, a filmscript by Ozu Yasujiro
- Friends, a play by Abe Kôbô
- A selection of short stories:
- “Aghwee the Sky Monster” by ?e Kenzabur?
- “The Boy Who Wrote Poetry” by Mishima Yukio
- “The Bridge of Dreams” by Tanizaki Junichiro
- Thousand Cranes by Kawabata Yasunari
The humanities scholar’s essay was written by Joseph Parisi, critic, writer, and editor of Poetry magazine. Bill Ott, Rhea Rubin, and professor Masako Takeda also made contributions in the preparation of the essay.
Download the scholar’s essay, annotated book list, and supplementary texts (PDF). Please note: The American Library Association is the copyright owner of this essay and annotations. The credit lines embedded in the program materials and/or sponsor and funder logos must remain on all published (print and web) materials derived from these materials.
How-To Discussion Programming Guides
Developed to aid participants in “The Millennium Project for Public Libraries,” this how-to guide (PDF) provides basic information about developing and promoting book discussion programs.
When planning a “Let’s Talk About It” program, you may wish to consult the planner’s manual (PDF) for general how-to information about program format, selecting a scholar, promoting your series, evaluation, and more.