American Stories by Kafū Nagai, Mitsuko Iriye

By Kafū Nagai, Mitsuko Iriye

Nagai Kafu is without doubt one of the maximum glossy eastern writers, yet earlier his vintage assortment, American tales, in line with his sojourn from Japan to Washington country, Michigan, and big apple urban within the early years of the 20th century, hasn't ever been to be had in English. the following, with a close and insightful advent, is a sublime translation of Kafu's perceptive and lyrical account.

Like de Tocqueville a century prior to, Kafu casts a clean, willing eye on vivid and sundry the USA -- global gala's, 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 large panorama of the demanding situations of yank existence for the negative, the overseas born, and the disaffected, peopled with crisp person snap shots that demonstrate the day-by-day disappointments and low euphorias of contemporary life.

Translator Mitsuko Iriye's creation presents vital cultural and biographical heritage approximately Kafu's upbringing in speedily 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 belief, or a damaged middle has pushed him to hunt a greater lifestyles in another country. In "Atop the Hill," the narrator meets a fellow jap expatriate at a small midwestern non secular university, who slowly unearths his complicated purposes for abandoning 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 USA, revealing the tawdry, negative, and mundane underside of recent York's glamour in "Ladies of the Night" whereas celebrating the ingenuity, cosmopolitanism, and freedom of the yank urban in "Two Days in Chicago." right now delicate and witty, stylish and gritty, those tales supply a nuanced outsider's view of the USA and an ideal front into glossy jap literature.

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Additional resources for American Stories

Example text

I was beginning to take notice of what was going on around me. At six years old, when one lives in very unusual circumstances, one is perhaps more aware than a child living more normally would be; one is watchful for happenings which could change one’s life. Perhaps the fact that my father was under the same roof when he was mad and departed when he was sane, and we were never sure when the change would take place, made me more perceptive than most children would have been. All of us, except Marie, developed a talent for gleaning gossip, mostly by keeping our ears open when we moved among those around us.

He used to tell me how troubled he was. Then he would laugh and say: ‘What of it, eh, Little Queen? I want you to try this sweetmeat I have had them make for you. And look at this brocade. ” And again she broke down in tears. It grieved her to recall that happy past, but her only comfort was in talking of it. “It was while he was in Ireland,” she said, “that Bolingbroke returned to England. Richard had taken a loving farewell of me. I had wept at his departure and he had said he would be back soon.

Michelle wanted to know. Odette surveyed us for a moment and then she said: “A man in the Duke’s position would have many enemies. ” “He always dines with our mother,” said Michelle. ” asked Marie. ” “There were one or two people who peeped out. We heard through them that a cobbler’s wife opened her window and shouted that murder was being committed. She was told sharply to be silent, and shots were fired at windows where lights appeared. ” Louis wanted to know. “They dared do no other…and when the men had gone away and there was silence in the streets, some of them crept out and saw the Duke lying dead on the cobbles.

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