Thursday, June 18, 2009
2006.11/Palgrave Macmillan; illustrated edition版
Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Surfacing with Strength: Haruki Murakami at 60
"My idol is Dostoyevsky,” Haruki Murakami told me one evening late last year. “Most writers get weaker and weaker as they age. But Dostoyevsky didn't. He kept getting bigger and greater. He wrote The Brothers Karamazov in his late 50s. That's a great novel.”
Earlier this year, Murakami turned sixty. In recent, casual conversations with him in the US and Japan, I learned that this milestone was very much on his mind. “I’m going to be sixty, you know,” he would often begin. Or: “I’m almost sixty, so …”
But references to the encroaching years seemed to embolden rather then deflate him, especially when coupled with discussion of the book he was then writing. Murakami proudly announced that it would be his longest yet, twice the size of his last major work, 2002’s Kafka on the Shore, which spanned over 450 pages. It would be published in two volumes in Japan, and would land in Japanese bookstores some time in the spring of this year.
Well, land it has - and to thunderous, earth-shaking effect in Japan.
Titled 1Q84, the two-volume, 1,055-page novel is being hailed by some as Murakami’s masterwork. It is also selling like “hotcakes,” as one character says of another book in the novel, borrowing the American idiomatic expression (a trademark Murakami move). The novel’s publisher, Shinchosha, plans to increase the print run to 1 million copies by the end of June.
Monday, June 15, 2009
I was interviewed by the very astute Larry Heiman, also a writer, minutes after this spring's JET Alumni Author's Showcase and book-signing in midtown Manhattan. Hoarse voice and all.
Friday, June 12, 2009
“News that the Japanese animation industry held its first ever state-of-the-industry symposium last month in Tokyo is as welcome as it is disturbing. Welcome, of course, because healthy organisms generally try to keep one finger on the pulse of their welfare. And disturbing because, after 60-plus years of activity, this was the anime animal’s first voluntary checkup–and the diagnoses are predictably bad.
Anime News Network, the largest English-language anime news Web site, notes that the pre-symposium survey received responses from at least 700 anime producers and directors. The results?
Anime employees in their 20s earn an average annual salary of 1.1 million yen, and those in their 30s earn an average annual salary of 2.14 million yen. Worse, veteran artists in their 40s and 50s survive on roughly 3 million yen per year. And most of them live and work in Tokyo–one of the most expensive cities in the world.
How’s that for soft-power glamour?" [read more here]