Southern Exposure: Modern Japanese Literature from Okinawa
352pp. August 2000
Southern Exposure: Modern Japanese Literature from Okinawa
Editor: Molasky, Michael; Rabson, Steve;
Southern Exposure is the first anthology of Okinawan literature to appear in English translation, and it appears at a propitious time. Although Okinawa Prefecture comprises only one percent of Japan's population, its writers have been winning a disproportionate number of literary awards in recent years--including the prestigious Akutagawa Prize for fiction, which was awarded to Matayoshi Eiki in 1996 and to Medoruma Shun in 1997. Both Matayoshi and Medoruma are represented in this anthology, which includes a wide range of fiction as well as a sampling of poetry from the 1920s to the present day.

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. But this tradition is as deeply rooted in the region's lush semitropical landscape as in the forces of history. As this anthology demonstrates, Okinawan writers often suffuse their works with a lyricism and humor that disarms readers while bringing them face to face with the region's richly ambiguous legacy.

"This anthology is a wonderful introduction to modern Okinawa not only for the student of Japanese literature or regional culture. Each of the translations is designed to help the western reader to understand the cultural background in an unobtrusive way. I would like to congratulate the translators and editors on the publication of such a wonderful anthology which leaves the reader eager for more." —H-Japan (May 2003)

"Molasky and Rabson’s excellent, variegated anthology of modern Okinawan (or Ryukyuan) literature is engrossing throughout. . . . Adds an important regionalist dimension to collections of Japanese literature." —Choice

"Lively writing, with a broad range of moods and styles. —

"Uniquely Okinawan. Yet the success of this book does not depend upon an exotic regionalism. Directness, honesty and inclusiveness are the winning qualities." —Japan Times

"A superb introduction. . . . Handsomely produced, expertly translated and supported by a thorough, jargon-free introduction, it is one of the best anthologies of its kinds I have read." —Pacific Reader (fall 2002)

"Unusually interesting, not only because it is the first collection of Okinawan poetry and prose to be translated into English, but for . . . its imaginative quality, clear translations, and that fact that, having been written progressively over most of the last century, it provides sharp pictures of Okinawan life at different periods." —Asian Studies Review (December 2002)

Editor: Molasky, Michael; Rabson, Steve;
Michael Molasky is associate professor of Japanese literature at University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Steve Rabson is associate professor of Japanese at Brown University.