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Japanese by Spring

3.4  ·  Rating Details ·  182 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Benjamin "Chappie" Puttbutt, a black junior professor at the overwhelmingly white Jack London College, lusts after tenure and its glorious perks (including a house in the Oakland Hills). He spends most of his time trying to divine the ideological climate of the school and obligingly adapting his beliefs to it. When Puttbutt's mysterious Japanese tutor, who promises to teac ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published August 1st 1996 by Penguin Books (first published 1993)
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81st out of 90 books — 61 voters


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MJ Nicholls
Jul 19, 2013 MJ Nicholls rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels, merkins
Reed wrote a campus satire. Whatever happened to the campus satire, you ask? When Kingsley Amis published Lucky Jim, suddenly it was OK to admit you worked at a university, and that teaching Advanced Polynesian Judo Rubric to squat milquetoasts from Ploverstown was in fact the apex of hip. Soon a slew of campus coms from prime inkers like Randall Jarrell and Vladimir Nabokov emerged, ending in meltdown when John Barth published the frankly silly Giles Goat-Boy—one of his valiant attempts to expl ...more
Stephen P
Mar 31, 2015 Stephen P rated it liked it
The rat-a-tat-tat of groups, causes, pretensions shredded. The gore left in bloody swathes by Reed is evidence of the fragmentation occurring no matter which side one occupies and within groups themselves.

The story of Jack London College in Oakland, California is told through the eyes of a black professor who is willing to circumvent all laws of gravity and flexibility to adapt himself to whatever political position that will advance him. Between large doses of information - at times bordering o
...more
Ryan
Dec 26, 2012 Ryan rated it really liked it
Ishmael Reed has never been one for subtlety, and this novel is about as subtle as a brick. At one point, the protagonist is whipping out copies of Japenese by Spring to Ishmael Reed himself, bashing the reader over the head with meta-fiction.

Sure, this book lacks prosiac beauty, contains an epilogue that is trecherous for readers who aren't experts in Yoruba culture (read: most everyone including myself), and every inconceivable twist is solved with a Deus Ex Machina, but that is exactly where
...more
Megan
May 30, 2014 Megan rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Nobody.
Shelves: hated, fiction
I might not be so angry with this festering little number if I hadn't been so betrayed by it: because I'm working on writing a campus novel myself, I've been keeping a list of apparently-great novels already in the genre that are supposed to help me get oriented with it. I let Nancy Pearl's Book Lust talk me into this one because she swore it was a lighthearted and hilarious romp. But clearly the New York Times Book Review quoted on the cover means "explosive" and "funny" in the sense that you f ...more
Amber Binion
Jun 18, 2013 Amber Binion rated it did not like it
I must say that I'm turned off by each off the characters in this book.
It is truly difficult for me to relate to any of the characters, their motives, their histories, etc. I know it's satire, but really, most of the characters are obnoxious.

I think another part of the reason why I can't seem to enjoy this book is its dated references. Which, to be fair, is understandable since this book was published in the mid 90's. Ugh...

Actually, the history was interesting. It's the book's discussion of i
...more
Brent Legault
Jan 14, 2011 Brent Legault rated it it was ok
An oddball pastiche - part farce, part screed, part fait divers. Probably more fun for the author to write than the reader (this reader, at least) to read. Ishamael Reed has points to make and so can't be bothered with exercising much in the way of style. I would offer this book up as an example to any novelist (I'm talking to you, Mr. Franzen) who decides to incorporate "current events" into his fiction. A novel like this grows old fast. It puts on weight. It goes grey.
Amy
May 15, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it
Wow, Reed blows the top off multiculturalism in the academy while also carefully protecting it. He doesn't even spare himself in the controversy. Smart, satyrical and irreverent, he asks searing questions about the values, assumptions and craziness of faculty life and campus atmosphere. No one could take the characters too seriously with names like Puttbutt, President Stool and Jokujoku, but he does ask some deeper questions among the craziness that are worth considering.
Shafiqah Berry
Feb 25, 2010 Shafiqah Berry rated it it was amazing
Post Modern, post Black power satire. The marvelous and multi-talented Ishmael Reed's look at America's higher educational system and the hypocrisies that exist there. The strange cliques and the lunacy of taking sides as either a liberal or conservative... a look at jingoism and obsessive devotion to any cause without full understanding of what is being fought for. And at times you will laugh out loud :)
Nancy
Jun 27, 2007 Nancy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Academicians
You never know when learning a language could be beneficial. This is a satirical look at the world of academia and how quickly colleagues can turn on you and how quickly the tables can turn back. Recommended for those that already have tenure (smile).
Daniel Rose
Jan 09, 2008 Daniel Rose rated it liked it
This is political satire at its most extreme - no one is spared (not even the author himself) and no subject is too taboo. Japanese businessmen cum political rebels take over a college campus and the surrounding town to show the students and faculty of overtly racist Jack London University that Westerners aren't the only ones who can play at imperialism. In a similar vein to Spike Lee's Bamboozled, Japanese by Spring left me not knowing whether to laugh or cry... or both.

I've been wanting to tes
...more
Rachel
Feb 17, 2008 Rachel rated it liked it
i do not know how i chose to read this, but i checked it out from the library when i was like 12 and i read at least half of it. i suppose i must have seen mr. reed's poetry somewhere, or heard something about him that suggested to me that he was a bad-ass of some kind. i think it was probably the first book i read that had sex in it, and that is also pretty much all i remember about it.
i am beginning to think i should read it again.
fati
Jan 27, 2008 fati rated it it was amazing
I am especially interested with the postcolonial and the East-West themes. This novel is a meaningful parody of minority’s struggle in gaining its equal existence. I analyzed this novel for my thesis under Edward Said’s Orientalism.
William
Jan 30, 2008 William rated it liked it
Some funny ideas about the culture wars. He does a neat thing in the last third of the novel, switching to a third person POV of Ishmael Reed. Very meta, but in a low-key way.
Roberto Garcia
Sep 08, 2012 Roberto Garcia rated it it was amazing
Hysterical. There are some moments where read monologues his way through a chapter but overall a good read. A wonderfully satirical look into academia.
Charles
Oct 20, 2008 Charles rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
Not sure where this book goes as far as genre is concerned. It's got a bit of everything in it. Reed writes with considerable humor.
Matt
Dec 14, 2013 Matt rated it really liked it
Shelves: slaphead
Smart ass sassy. Fun and funny. On the nose. This is how a morality tale should be written.
Shannon
May 26, 2013 Shannon rated it liked it
Interesting social commentary, witty. Not impressed by the story itself.
Frank
Oct 10, 2010 Frank rated it liked it
Reed's take on academia.
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Ishmael Scott Reed is an American poet, essayist, and novelist. A prominent African-American literary figure, Reed is known for his satirical works challenging American political culture, and highlighting political and cultural oppression.

Reed has been described as one of the most controversial writers. While his work has often sought to represent neglected African and African-American perspective
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