World Literature Today's Notable Translation 2013
This collection introduces the work of Japan’s foremost Marxist writer, Kobayashi Takiji (1903–1933), to an English-speaking audience, providing access to a vibrant, dramatic, politically engaged side of Japanese literature that is seldom seen outside Japan. The volume presents a new translation of Takiji’s fiercely anticapitalist Kani kōsen—a classic that became a runaway bestseller in Japan in 2008, nearly eight decades after its 1929 publication. It also offers the first-ever translations of Yasuko and Life of a Party Member, two outstanding works that unforgettably explore both the costs and fulfillments of revolutionary activism for men and women. The book features a comprehensive introduction by Komori Yōichi, a prominent Takiji scholar and professor of Japanese literature at Tokyo University.
"From time to time, as Japan has faced various postwar crises, popular interest in proletarian literature has revived. Now English readers have a chance to experience, in a lively translation, three representative works by Kobayashi, two of them translated for the first time. . . . Kobayashi was a very talented writer, not just an ideologue, and showed a flair for striking imagery . . . . It is the vividness of these images that makes the read a pleasure, despite the painfulness of many of the things described." —Japan Times
"The title piece of this volume is a timely and long awaited new translation of Kobayashi Takiji's 1929 novel [The Cannery Boat], the most influential literary work to emerge out of the so-called Proletarian Cultural Movement that was in operation for about a decade around 1930 ... Cipris has made a magnificent fist of bringing Kobayashi's words to life on the page for a modern readership." —Japan Studies (34:1, 2014)
“A miracle happened in the world of Japanese letters in 2008: an eighty-year-old masterwork of Japanese proletarian literature appeared on best-seller lists. Embraced and reviled in its own day, dismissed and forgotten once revolution was declared both impossible and unnecessary, Kobayashi Takiji’s The Crab Cannery Ship, reborn here in Željko Cipriš’s fresh translation, stirred in Japanese a forgotten hunger for a literature that answers to bleak times with an incandescent anger and life-giving solidarity. This volume, which includes two novels never before translated, Yasuko and the Life of a Party Member, gives us a trio of works that speak to readers with prescient urgency.” —Norma Field, Robert S. Ingersoll Distinguished Service Professor Emerita of Japanese Studies, University of Chicago
“The long recession that hit Japan after the ‘bubble economy’ burst in the early 1990s brought falling incomes and widespread underemployment. It also sparked a major revival of interest among the nation's readers in this landmark work of Japan’s proletarian literature, selling briskly in a new edition. While other translators concentrate on recent pop-star writers, Željko Cipriš joins a growing number of scholars bringing to an English-language readership pioneering works of Japanese literature written from the perspectives of women, blue collar workers, and ethnic minorities. The publication in English of Kobayashi Takiji’s fiction, skillfully translated here, is particularly timely as people in many countries with troubled economies struggle with lost jobs and burgeoning debts.” —Steve Rabson, Professor Emeritus of East Asian Studies, Brown University
“Kobayashi Takiji is hands down the most important proletarian author to have emerged from Japan, and this volume of translations provides an excellent introduction to a vibrant, dramatic, politically engaged side of Japanese literature that is seldom seen. The stories spring to life in fresh, idiomatic translations that bring Takiji’s heart-pumping originals to life.” —Jeffrey Angles, Western Michigan University
Author: Kobayashi Takiji; Translator: Cipris, Zeljko;Željko Cipriš
is associate professor of Asian studies and Japanese at the University of the Pacific, Stockton, California.