Natsuo Kirino, the author of OUT and recipient of many literary awards, has denied she has literary ambitions, insisting that her work be included in the dominant commercial genre of “entertainment.” Kotaro Isaka lives in Sendai, far from the Tokyo literary establishment, and yet had more titles on the bestseller list in 2010 than Haruki Murakami. And Murakami himself turns his back on the literary establishment to cultivate an international reputation that both defies and defines contemporary Japanese literary taste. This lecture examines the relationship between texts, reputations, and the forces of commodification in recent Japanese fiction, focusing on the careers of Haruki Murakami, Ryu Murakami, Banana Yoshimoto, Kirino, Isaka, and Miri Yu.
Stephen Snyder is Kawashima Professor of Japanese Studies and in-coming Dean of Middlebury Language Schools at Middlebury College in Vermont. He is the author of Fictions of Desire: Narrative Form in the Novels of Nagai Kafu (2000) and co-editor of Oe and Beyond: Fiction in Contemporary Japan (1999). He has translated works by Yoko Ogawa, Kenzaburo Oe, Ryu Murakami, and Miri Yu, among others. His translation of Kunio Tsuji’s The Signore (Azuchi Okanki, 1990) won the 1990 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission translation prize. His translation of Natsuo Kirino’s OUT (2003), enthusiastically reviewed in The New York Times, was a finalist for the Edgar Award for best mystery novel in 2004. His translation of Yoko Ogawa’s Hotel Iris (2010) was short-listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2011. He is currently working on a study of publishing practices in Japan and the United States and their effects on the globalization of Japanese literature.