[ARC Review] MONKEY edited by Ted Goossen and Motoyuki Shibata [Vol 2]

3 Things About This Book
| Annual Anthology | Features Some of the Best Contemporary Japanese Writers | A Feast for the Eyes and Mind |

defy the night brigid kemmerer book cover

MONKEY New Writing from Japan edited by Ted Goossen and Motoyuki Shibata
Series: MONKEY New Writing from Japan, Vol 2
Published: 2021 by MONKEY
Asian Literature, Fiction
Book Depository

4 stars

An annual anthology that focuses on contemporary Japanese literatureMONKEY New Writing from Japan contains short stories, poetry, essays, novel excerpts, and more that have been translated to EnglishPaired with these pieces are illustrations created using various mediums, creating a feast for the eyes and mind.

This specific volume of MONKEY focuses on the theme of travel. It kicks off with ‘Sea Horse’, a gorgeous, magical piece by Hiromi Kawakami whose brilliance shines brighter than ever when she writes short stories. I’m completely in love with the imagery, magical realism, and social commentary woven into the narrative.

Following this strong start is Tomoka Shibasaki’s ‘A woman hears an announcement on the radio that war has broken out, relatives arrive at her house seeking refuge, when the war ends they leave, then a civil war breaks out’. It’s an impressively long title which I admittedly didn’t bother reading in its entirely, but the short story has some of the most memorable and thought-provoking lines.

Then, we have ‘The Overcoat‘, a graphic story by Satoshi Kitamura; Kikuko Tsumura’s ‘Hell‘ which tells the tale of a women’s afterlife; a poem by Mieko Kawakami; excerpts of Hideo Furukawa’s novel City of Ears; and other carefully curated pieces to complete this anthology. Aside from the first two that stood out to me, I greatly enjoyed ‘Kurozuka: a Noh Play’, ‘Five Modern Poets on Travel‘, Yasunari Kawabata’s touching ‘From the Northern Sea‘, and the final section where twelve translators briefly shared their thoughts on words they have difficulties with translating into a different language. 

Both the modern rendition of the Noh play and the remarks by the twelve translators were intriguing. I loved the imagery and emotions evoked by the poems in ‘Five Modern Poets on Travel‘ and found the inclusion of the original Japanese poem alongside the translated version a delightful touch that allowed me to enjoy both. As for ‘From the Northern Sea’, I found it gentle, kind, and empowering. It’s a short story I’m sure I will return to constantly to find the strength the narrator did to carry on with her life.

Admittedly, some pieces felt out of place in this anthology, but in overall, MONKEY is an impressive literary journal that any fan of Japanese literature would love to have in their possession.

Thank you so much for this ARC, Netgalley and MONKEY!
I received this it in exchange for an honest review.



2 thoughts on “[ARC Review] MONKEY edited by Ted Goossen and Motoyuki Shibata [Vol 2]

    1. Ahhh, thank you so much 💜💜 I used to struggle with reviewing short stories too, but ultimately decided to not care anymore and just went with whatever I could write about it. Glad it turned out fine 😊 Also, if you get the chance to read this, I hope you’ll enjoy it too!

      Liked by 1 person

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