Southern Exposure: Modern Japanese Literature from Okinawa

edited by Michael Molasky and Steve Rabson
University of Hawai’i Press, 2000.

Modern Okinawa has been forged by a history of conquest and occupation by mainland Japan and the United States. Its sense of dual subjugation and the propensity of its writers to confront their own complicity with Japanese militarism imbues Okinawa’s literary tradition with insightful perspectives on a wide range of issues, including the ongoing discrimination against ethnic minorities in both Japan and the United States and the conflicting desires for Okinawa’s assimilation to, and autonomy from, mainland Japan.

Okinawa’s literary tradition is as deeply rooted in the region’s lush semi-tropical landscape as it is in history. The writers in Southern Exposure paint scenes of the natural world that simultaneously depict beauty, horror, and depredation. Okinawans’ quest to recover their ancient cultural heritage is haunted by war, occupation, and other forces that are noticeably absent  from the mainstream literature of contemporary Japan, all of which are addressed in Southern Exposure.

Michael Molasky is professor of Japanese at Connecticut College in New London.

Steve Rabson is professor of Japanese at Brown University.

Okinawa: Two Postwar Novellas

by Oshiro Tatsuhiro and Higashi Mineo
translated by Steve Rabson
Institute of East Asian Studies, UCB, 1989.

Although the novellas differ sharply in tone and form, both are first-person narratives of individual protagonists whose lives are profoundly affected by the U.S. occupation and military presence. The novellas are presented here in translation together with an introduction providing historical background and a concluding essay that compares and evaluates them. The introduction is intended to supply information that will help the reader understand specific points in the stories. For both essays, the author has drawn on Japanese and English-language sources including materials collected in Okinawa during eight months of a 1967-68 overseas tour in the U.S. Army and on subsequent visits to the island.

Oshiro Tatsuhiro was born in 1925 in Nakagusuku, Okinawa Prefecture. He has published numerous books and articles on Okinawa’s culture and history a well as works of fiction and drama. His work The Cocktail Party was awarded an Akutagawa Prize in 1967.

Higashi Mineo was born in 1938 in Mindanao, The Philippines. His work Child of Okinawa was awarded an Akutagawa Prize in 1971.

Okinawa Explorer: A Complete Guidebook to Okinawa

by Kenny Ehman
TK2 Productions, 2005.

In order to help visitors plan a wonderful trip to Okinawa, the Okinawa Explorer first provides background information about local customs, language, public transportation, costs, and much more. There is also an easy-to-follow Navigation section that enables visitors to choose the best locations for enjoying what interests them the most.

Kenny Ehman has lived in Okinawa since 1992. He is an English teacher at a local elementary school and has been writing professionally since 1997. Ehman is the Vice President and co-founder of NPO Okinawa O.C.E.A.N. – a non-profit organization that educates Okinawan children about marine conservation. He is currently writing a children’s book and a book of short stories about Okinawa.

Modern Korean Fiction: An Anthology

edited by Bruce Fulton and Youngmin Kwon
Columbia University Press, 2005.

To represent the past century of Korean fiction, this collection extends beyond familiar writers, challenges cultural norms, and crosses political borders. By including stories from neglected female, North Korean, and “wlbuk” writers (those who migrated to the North after 1945 and whose works were widely banned in South Korea) and by bringing politically engaged works together with experimental ones, this anthology articulates the ruptures and resolutions that have marked the peninsula.

From sketches of desperate peasants in straitened circumstances to fast-moving, visceral tales of contemporary South Korea, the works in this collection bear witness to the dramatic transformations and events in twentieth-century Korean history, including Japanese colonial rule, civil war, and economic modernization in the South. The writers explore these developments through a variety of literary and political lenses, revealing with precision and poignancy their impact on Korean society and the lives of ordinary Koreans. This anthology includes an introduction, which synthesizes the key developments in modern Korean literature, and a comprehensive bibliography of Korean fiction in translation. (Publisher’s description)

Bruce Fulton occupies the Young-Bin Min Chair in Korean Literature and Literary Translation at the University of British Columbia. He is the co-translator of Words of Farewell: Stories by Korean Women Writers; Land of Exile: Contemporary Korean Fiction; and A Ready-Made Life: Early Masters of Modern Korean Fiction.

Youngmin Kwon is professor of Korean literature at Seoul National University.

And So Flows History

by Hahn Moo-Sook
translated by Young-Key Kim-Renaud
University of Hawai’i Press, 2005.

And So Flows History (Yŏksanŭn hŭrŭnda, 1948) depicts the relentless power of exterior forces on the individual lives of three generations of the illustrious Cho family—from the waning years of the Chosŏn dynasty in the late nineteenth century to the tumultuous post-liberation era. The novel opens with a tragic confrontation between two classes: the rape of a young slave by her master, the respected magistrate Cho Tongjun. Within a year, the magistrate has been murdered by Tonghak rebels, and his two sons are leading the family to ruin—one on account of his blind adherence to tradition, the other owing to his collaboration with the Japanese. Only Tongjun’s youngest child provides hope for the future through her marriage to a enlightened young teacher and patriot. (Publisher’s description)

Hahn Moo-Sook (1918–1993) is one of Korea’s most successful writers of modern realist literature. She received many awards for her writing, including the 1986 Grand Prix of the Republic of Korea Literature Award for her novel Encounter. And So Flows History, Hahn’s first novel, received first prize in a 1947 contest organized by a major Korean daily.

Young-Key Kim-Renaud is the eldest daughter of Hahn Moo-Sook. She is chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures and professor of Korean language and culture and international affairs at George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

Japanese Demon Lore: Oni from Ancient Times to the Present

by Noriko T. Reider
Utah State University Press, 2010.

Oni, ubiquitous supernatural figures in Japanese literature, lore, art, and religion, usually appear as demons or ogres. Characteristically, they are threatening, monstrous creatures with ugly features and fearful habits, including cannibalism. They also can be harbingers of prosperity, beautiful and sexual, and especially in modern contexts, even cute and lovable. There has been much ambiguity in their character and identity over their long history. Usually male, their female manifestations convey distinctively gendered social and cultural meanings.
Oni appear frequently in various arts and media, from Noh theater and picture scrolls to modern fiction and political propaganda, they remain common figures in popular Japanese anime, manga, and film and are becoming embedded in American and international popular culture through such media. Noriko Reider’s book would be the first in English devoted to oni. Reider fully examines their cultural history, multifaceted roles, and complex significance as “others” to the Japanese. (Publisher’s description)

Noriko T. Reider is associate professor of Japanese at Miami University. She is the author of Tales of the Supernatural in Early Modern Japan: Kaidan, Akinari, Ugetsu monogatari (2002). Her articles and reviews have appeared in such journals as Asian Folklore Studies, Japan Forum, Film Criticism, and International Journal of Asian Studies.

Modern Poetry of Pakistan

edited by Iftikhar Arif and Waqas Khwaja
Dalkey Archive Press, 2011.

Modern Poetry of Pakistan brings together not one but many poetic traditions indigenous to Pakistan, with 142 poems translated from seven major languages, six of them regional (Baluchi, Kashmiri, Panjabi, Pashto, Seraiki, and Sindhi) and one national (Urdu). Collecting the work of forty-two poets and fifteen translators, this book reveals a society riven by ethnic, class, and political differences—but also a beautiful and truly national literature, with work both classical and modern, belonging to the same culture and sharing many of the same concerns and perceptions. (Publisher’s description)

Iftikhar Arif is an Urdu poet and scholar. He is currently the Chairman of Pakistan’s National Language Authority and has received the Presidential Pride of Performance award. His poetry has been translated into several languages, including English in the collection Written in a Season of Fear.

Waqas Khwaja is an Associate Professor of English at Agnes Scott College. He has published three collections of poetry, a travelogue, and has edited several anthologies of Pakistani literature.