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Yumiko Kurahashi
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message 1: by S̶e̶a̶n̶ (last edited Dec 02, 2015 12:43PM) (new)

S̶e̶a̶n̶ (nothingness) | 92 comments Kurahashi Yumiko was a Japanese experimental fiction writer who began publishing in the early 1960s. During her university years she was introduced to writers like Kafka, Rimbaud, Camus, and Blanchot, who would later come to influence her, as would the Nouveau Roman writers and Japanese writers such as Kōbō Abe.

Her university thesis was an analysis of Sartre's Being and Nothingness, and her fiction in part dwells on existentialist concerns. Her novel The Adventures of Sumiyakist Q (the only one of hers available in English) can be read as a satire of Communism and has drawn parallels to Kakfa's The Castle. A later novel published in 1986 Amanon koku okan ki (A Record of Travel to the Land of Amanon) is described by the J-Lit Center as 'a wildly fantastic novel about sex, religion, and revolution in the ultimate female-dominated society'.

According to translator Atsuko Sakaki's introduction to Kurahashi's only other book available in English (the short fiction collection The Woman with the Flying Head and Other Stories), her other novels 'lean more toward concrete description, naming characters in Japanese [instead of using initials], and mentioning existing names of places and things'. Sakaki notes that some scholars argue this marks Kurahashi's transition from experimental to more conventional prose, following her return to Japan after a stay in the U.S. as a Fullbright artist. However, Sakaki suggests instead that this is a 'furthering of the performativity of her work, as Kurahashi dresses the bone structure of the absurdist archetype in the trappings of contemporary Japanese society, or of neoclassical reinventions of scenes from classical literary sources'.

The Woman with the Flying Head and Other Stories is a collection drawn from the entirety of Kurahashi's career. In several of these stories, Kurahashi challenges heteronormative roles in a compelling, yet matter-of-fact manner. Among other themes, she explores incest, bestiality, and hermaphroditism. Other stories in the collection rely on classic Japanese and Chinese literature as their source material, upon which Kurahashi then grows her own vision.

Her novel A Record of Travel to the Land of Amanon has already been translated into German, and sounds like it would be a great contender for an English translation.

(Sources: Wikipedia, Atsuko Sakaki's Introduction to The Woman with the Flying Head and Other Stories, The Complete Review)


message 2: by Ronald (new)

Ronald Morton | 65 comments She sounds great! I went ahead and picked up both of her available-in-english-translation books; A Record of Travel to the Land of Amanon sounds fantastic, hopefully it gets a translation eventually as well.


message 3: by S̶e̶a̶n̶ (new)

S̶e̶a̶n̶ (nothingness) | 92 comments I read The Adventures of Sumiyakist Q and thoroughly enjoyed it. I think it's due for an unburial of greater numbers than one.

Ronald, I look forward to your thoughts. I hope you'll post them here and/or in a review.

(I changed my name back from Corvid...apologies for any resulting confusion in these threads.)


message 4: by Nathan "N.R." (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 985 comments Sean wrote: "(I changed my name back from Corvid...apologies for any resulting confusion in these threads.) "

Confusion cleared up! Welcome back!


message 5: by S̶e̶a̶n̶ (new)

S̶e̶a̶n̶ (nothingness) | 92 comments Thanks! Good to be here in the BBC.


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