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The Japanese Wife

3.22  ·  Rating details ·  1,276 ratings  ·  122 reviews
‘It’s an improbable and hauntingly beautiful love story, almost surreal in its innocence. And I immediately knew that this was the film I had to make.’ – Aparna Sen

An Indian man writes to a Japanese woman. She writes back. The pen-friends fall in love and exchange their vows over letters, then live as man and wife without ever setting eyes on each other – their intimacy of
Hardcover, 202 pages
Published 2008 by Harper Collins
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Average rating 3.22  · 
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Mar 14, 2008 rated it did not like it

From the moment Aparna Sen announced that she would be making a literary adaptation of Kunal Basu’s The Japanese Wife, one saw an immense curiosity for the book. Not unexpectedly, copies of it were instantly lapped up at literary fests and now when it has finally hit book stores, business remains brisk as ever.
Now, firstly, this is a disappointment for people expecting to read a full-fledged novel on The Japanese Wife because it's a book of 13 short stories. The theme that runs here is that of u
Sharayu Gangurde
Jan 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: indian-fiction
First book of 2012. Imagine my huge disappointment when I saw the index itself! Its a collection of short-stories. I love short stories. Tagore's Tales inspired and mesmerized me. So did O.Henry. I built up a giant empire of goodness over them.
The cover art(photograph) of the book is beautiful. The Japanese wife promised a lot and delivered too little. The title story enthralled me with the husband and wife's letter writing scenes and the little gifts she sents him. The writing is magical. It p
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, indian
I can't put my finger on what was unsatisfactory about this book. It may have been the writing, which is a little on the heavier side. It may be that after investing time wading through the narrative, the ending seems rather abrupt and vaguely anticlimatic.
It may be that despite being short stories, you can't jump from one to the other immediately, because they're not light reading. Resulting in you hanging on to a library book for a lot longer than intended.
If you felt this review was pointle
Dec 12, 2012 rated it did not like it
Absolutely horrible.

So so boring.

Basu tries to make his stories - ugh, how should I describe it - quietly poetic, with a relaxed but strong appeal to aesthetics. He strains to create the same atmosphere and attraction predominant in the movie "Hero" (sorry, I can't think of a book reference, forgive me ... great movie, by the way), failing utterly. Almost every line can be equated to a fluffy filler.

And the endings! Ugh! The endings are preferentially melodramatic, predicable, ridiculous, or
Pooja Banga
Jan 25, 2019 rated it liked it
An Indian man writes to a Japanese woman. She writes back. The pen-friends fall in love and exchange their vows over letters, then live as man and wife without ever setting eyes on each other – their intimacy of words tested finally by life’s miraculous upheavals.

The twelve stories in this collection are about the unexpected. An American professor visits India with the purpose of committing suicide, and goes on a desert journey with the daughter of a snakecharmer. A honeymooning Indian couple i
All tragedies are finished by a death, all comedies are ended by a marriage.

The tragedy best summarises these short stories. Tragedies are sad but the charm of reading or watching one is beautiful. The loss, the impending doom, the wait, the life goes on feeling, they underline each story subtly and strongly.

Basu clearly adds soul to his stories, characters, and words. His stories are about gushing rivers, raining monsoons, strange meetings, subtle emotions, music and sounds, love and loss.

May 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
I thought I would try a smattering some other contemporary Indian authors to contrast with the well known (Kushwant Singh, Sheshi Deshpande, etc, not to mention the Canadian geniuses such as Mistry), and I was pleasantly surprised and moved to discover Kunal Basu. This book is a collection of short stories. At first, I was attracted to the quirkiness of them: an Indian man whose Japanese penfriend becomes his wife, an Indian-American professor on a suicide mission getting entangled with the fami ...more
Mar 27, 2009 rated it it was ok
10 April 2009
I'm now more than mid-way through Kunal Basu's The Japanese Wife, another collection of short stories by another Bengali writer (they are India's most literate. Just think Tagore . . . ). This time the writer is based in Oxford -- the Indian writers' diaspora goes far and wide.
I think the collection builds up and particularly enjoyed Lenin's Cafe as it brought the Asian expat life of Moscow alive -- I could just see the apartments of Vavilova where most of them live! & his story on
Apr 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: india, short-stories
Twelve short stories, some easy to connect to, many poignant images, characters and situations, but some stories had a form I had difficulty in grasping.

Many stories deal with the implacable rules of life that defy reason, barriers that seem to be crossed but finally are not - between family and maid, or between american widow and village girl.

I enjoyed the pearlfisher and Long live Imelda Marcos the most.

I'm very curious what the Japanese Wife (first story) would be like as a film, I have liked
Chaitra Pallavi
Aug 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: yes
A lovely book. After reading what others have to say - am not much bothered about the caste, state and creed of the writer. what matters to me is that Basu has vivid imagination, knowledge about cultures & relationships, and has narrated it in simple language. I liked more or less all the stories, the one which touched my heart was the Snake Charmer, followed by Long Live Imelda Marcos and Japanese Wife.
Dhwani Swadia
Jan 31, 2021 rated it it was ok
The Japanese wife is a wonderful story.. I just couldn't relate to any other story. ...more
Sundeep Supertramp
It is pretty lame why I chose to read this book (just like most other times). There are two reasons. One: it is adapted to a movie. I have taken this pledge long ago: to read the printed word first. And two: it is hard cover. Hard covers have their own pleasures bound with them.

It is only after I started reading, I realised that it is a collection of stories and Japanese Wife is just a story among others.

This is my first by Kunal Basu, a Bengali. I hold Bengalis pretty high in standard. They are
I'm a few stories into the book & I've decided to give-up on this one. I cannot read this anymore. I'd rather read something I love and be merry! :)

When I had first picked up "The Japanese Wife" I expected to get to read a full-fledged novel on the story. Aparna Sen's brilliant literary adaptation to a film of the same name had really moved me. This book by Kunal Basu is actually a collection of short stories. It was a delight reliving the title story. The narrative did not impress me much thoug
May 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
Japanese Wife is a collection of short stories. The first story, titled Japanese Wife (which is also adapted into a movie), stands out from the rest of the stories. The title story is about a Bengali school teacher and his Japanese pen-friend. It is a beautiful yet unbelievable love story. Each of the stories deal with immigrants, mostly Indians in different countries. Some stories are difficult to grasp. Long live Imelda Marcos is another short story which I liked, apart from the first story.
Pauline McGonagle
May 02, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Pauline by: Manju
The cover promised more than the book offered. It is very hard to tell that this is in fact a book of short stories and 'The Japanese wife' is only one of them......... and in my view the best one and strongest narrative .
The others were a motley mix of vaguely interesting stories which somehow I have completely forgotten.
Aug 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
Barring a couple of stories, the book did not appeal much to me. The characters and the scenario was described very well by Basu. However, I found a hard try to amalgamate different cultures and scenario in each story; I could not relate much to it.
Jul 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is a collection of 12 stories. "The Japanese Wife" being the best one, all the stories just pull a strange string in you. "Lenin's Cafe" was the story which went above my head, may be because it has to do something with communists:)...
Deep and thoughtful i finished the book.
Jul 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Most of the stories were heartrending, but the first. oh.
The quaint mixture of indigenous quirks and foreign Characters makes it so believable.

Any of the stories could be going on in your crowded city gali or silent rural backyard.
Oct 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
I expected a long indepth story about a Japanese bride/wife...only to encounter a short story nd many short stories thereafter....its ok book-pass time, nothing great to write home about !!!!
Dec 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-fiction
It is collection of stories. The titular story is totally awesome. The movie based on the story was amazing too.
Ashok Krishna
Recently, when I was talking to a friend of mine about my love for the almost-lost art of letter-writing and my desire to recreate that habit among my friends, she told me about the movie 'The Japanese Wife'. It is the story of a simple school teacher from Bengal, who befriends a Japanese woman over letters. They strengthen their bond through letters and soon end up exchanging marital vows through letters. They don't come to meet one another and live together even after their 'marriage' through ...more
Aishwarya Ghumekar
Aug 18, 2018 rated it liked it
The Japanese Wife is a collection of 12 short fiction stories by the author Kunal Basu who is a renowned Indian author of English Fiction. The title story of the book has also been depicted in a film by Film maker Aparna Sen.
To summarize the contents of the book, the stories speak of interactions between people from a foreign culture and the ones who are pretty much Indian.Kunal Basu’s stories cover locations in India which adds an authentic touch to the novel. The titles of the stories are eye
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Forget Chekov, forget Munro, try Basu, if short stories catch your fascination.

This collection of short-stories titled 'The Japanese Wife' was actually added to my book catch for that day back in 2013 by the bald-headed owner of a book-store in Patiala, who insisted that I buy this book. I liked the books his frail son recommended to me, or the round assistant with flowing hair parted in the middle suggested. But father’s (the shop owner) choice was horrible!! Few weeks before that he had slipp
Ankit Dua
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing

Its an extraordinary love story of a couple who fell in love without seeing each other, highly improbable most will say, but I firmly believe this fiction is very close to reality. I guess this is what they call PURE LOVE which is not corrupted by physical attraction.

I read it again, and to my surprise, I felt the intense emotions because of his simplistic writing style which is touching and intriguing . Especially the character's connection with the surroundings and his dilemma's to explain his
Vijaya Lakshmi
May 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Book Name: The Japanese Wife
Author: Kunal Basu
Genre: Fiction

The Japanese wife is a collection of 12 short stories by the renowned Indian author Kunal Basu.
The first story, set in the year 1970 is about an Indian teacher “Snehanmoy ” and a Japanese women “Meyage” .
An unconventional love story of two individuals who fall in love through exchange of letters and finally marry each other. It is an enthralling story which warms your heart and makes you wonder if people such as this actually exist I th
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
I bought this book mistakenly thinking that The Japanese Wife is a novel. It is just a short story which is strange for me as Aparna Sen made an entire movie based on it. The literary command in the other stories is good but many of them lack a basic strong plot such as Grateful Ganga or Miss Annie. The only other two stories that I mildly liked are Lenin's Cafe and The Last Dalang. The rest somehow failed to invoke any emotion in me. A book of short stories can be far more compelling such as An ...more
Vandana Sinha
Mar 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Other master of the short story have raised the bar for me. Reading these stories was like undertaking a one dimensional journey -- calm, placid and boring. One might come across a twisted tree, an interesting house , something that catches the eye but nothing very striking or memorable. Except perhaps the Japanese wife
Nov 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
this movie is amazing. it is a movie about two lovers who have never seen each other but know the beauty inside each other. the beauty of the village and the villagers is shown in this movie.
I think this movie focuses on the psychology genre. I am just a 14 year old so I don't know about adults but I recommend it to teenagers.
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Borrowed this book from my office library a few months ago. Quite impressed with The Japanese Wife which was made into a feature film. Barring that, the three stories I read were boring and brooding. I couldn't finish the remaining stories. ...more
Priyanka Dixit
Jul 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: mine-read
Nice collection of stories with background set in 1970s. Endings of the most stories are very open and sometimes lead to sadness. But are relatable. Most of them are based in India, and have same cultural background.
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Kunal basu was born in Calcutta. Raised by unorthodox parents, both litterateurs and political activists, he developed an early love for the arts: painting, acting and writing.

Since 2001, he has published four novels, a collection of short stories, written a few screen plays and (mostly unpublished) poetry.

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