Following the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters in Japan, yesterday NPR's Talk of the Nation offered a reading list of "books to help you understand Japan."
Donald Keene, a Japanese literature professor emeritus at Columbia, recommended (with Talk of the Nation's annotations):
- Man'yoshu, the oldest existing anthology of Japanese poetry, collected some time after A.D. 759.
- The Tale of Genji, the 11th century Japanese classic by noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu
- The Narrow Roads to Oku, haiku by Matsuo Basho
- Chushingura, originally a puppet play by Takeda Izumo, Miyoshi Shoraku and Namiki Senryu
- The Makioka Sisters, a modern Japanese novel by Junichiro Tanizaki
Kimiko Hahn, a poet and professor of English at Queens College of the City University of New York, recommended several titles by Keene and others:
- Anthology of Japanese Literature: From the Earliest Era to the Mid-Nineteenth Century by Donald Keene
- Modern Japanese Literature: From 1868 to the Present Day by Donald Keene
- Essays in Idleness: The Tsurezuregusa of Kenko translated by Donald Keene
- The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon translated by Ivan Morris
- Japanese Poetic Diaries translated by Earl Miner