Talk of the Nation's Japanese Reading List

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



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