American Stories by Kafū Nagai, Mitsuko Iriye

By Kafū Nagai, Mitsuko Iriye

Nagai Kafu is among the maximum smooth eastern writers, yet before his vintage assortment, American tales, in keeping with his sojourn from Japan to Washington nation, Michigan, and big apple urban within the early years of the 20 th century, hasn't ever been to be had in English. the following, with an in depth and insightful advent, is a chic translation of Kafu's perceptive and lyrical account.

Like de Tocqueville a century ahead of, Kafu casts a clean, willing eye on bright and sundry the US -- international festivals, live performance halls, and school campuses; saloons, the immigrant underclass, and red-light districts. lots of his vignettes contain encounters with fellow eastern or chinese language immigrants, a few of whom are poorly paid workers dealing with day-by-day discrimination. The tales paint a extensive panorama of the demanding situations of yank lifestyles for the negative, the overseas born, and the disaffected, peopled with crisp person pictures that show the day-by-day disappointments and coffee euphorias of contemporary life.

Translator Mitsuko Iriye's advent offers very important cultural and biographical heritage approximately Kafu's upbringing in swiftly modernizing Japan, in addition to literary context for this assortment. within the first tale, "Night speak in a Cabin," 3 younger males crusing from Japan to Seattle each one display how negative clients, shattered self assurance, or a damaged center has pushed him to hunt a greater lifestyles overseas. In "Atop the Hill," the narrator meets a fellow eastern expatriate at a small midwestern spiritual university, who slowly unearths his complicated purposes for forsaking his spouse in Japan. stuck among the pleasures of America's towns and the stoicism of its small cities, he wonders if he can ever go back home.

Kafu performs with the contradictions and complexities of early twentieth-century the United States, revealing the tawdry, terrible, and mundane underside of recent York's glamour in "Ladies of the Night" whereas celebrating the ingenuity, cosmopolitanism, and freedom of the yankee urban in "Two Days in Chicago." instantaneously delicate and witty, based and gritty, those tales supply a nuanced outsider's view of the U.S. and an ideal front into smooth eastern literature.

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M y wife and son look at me with enormous, embarrassed eyes. M y wife— my mother— comes, puts her hand on my forehead, gently wipes away the sweat, gives me a little wa­ ter— very little water— and explains that it’s called a nightmare. Toward the end he didn’t treat me so badly; he didn’t even insult me. Just every^ once in a while he would kick me, not very hard, just when he had the chance. It took my mother and me several weeks to realize that a new fixed idea had taken control of his thoughts.

Well, the truth is she wasn’t thinking about that anymore but how fine it would be to organize another performance soon in a larger hall, maybe in a real theater where only she would be in charge of the whole pro­ gram because the bad thing about these little soirees was that the musicians bored the people even though they raved about them in the newspaper the next day, it wasn’t fair. N o sir. ” She wanted to prolong for a little while the conversation about her triumph. She wished her husband were there to hear what they were sa\dng so he would know she wasn’t making it all up.

N o dog is safe from rabies. W hy would he be the exception? At any moment he could have contracted the disease, which, as everyone knows, spreads so rapidly in a geometrical progression that it can quickly kill off entire populations. If he had been infected by this deadly disease one day, I can’t even begin to imagine what would have happened to us all.

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