Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Monkey @ Figment

My thanks to Dana Goodyear and Lindsay Van Thoen of Figment for inviting me to prattle on about Issue 1 of Monkey Business: New Voices from Japan, which is still available at some bookstores and via the A Public Space website.

We will be hosting Canadian launch events for Issue 1 in Toronto next month (details TBA), and Issue 2 is well under way, with a targeted pub date in Feb/March 2012, and a second round of NYC launch events to follow in Spring 2012.

Monkey Business with Roland Kelts

Roughly two years ago, my dear friends Motoyuki Shibata—a Japanese writer, scholar and translator of American literature—and Japanese literature translator and scholar Ted Goossen, the editor of the Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories, approached me with a singular mandate: please help us publish an annual English-language journal of contemporary Japanese stories, poems, and art for a western audience. In 2008, Shibata founded a new literary magazine in Tokyo called Monkey Business, modeled in part by Brooklyn’s A Public Space—for which he and I had curated and edited a portfolio on contemporary Japanese fiction for Issue 1 in 2006.

At first I was skeptical: American literary journals sometimes feature foreign fiction in translation, but usually as exotic inserts tucked into the dominant domestic discourse. But Shibata has persuaded me that there is a convergence of literary sensibilities in Japan and the US right now. Fiction writers from both countries seem to be responding to the cataclysmic events of the late-20th and early 21st Century with an intimate strain of surrealism—personal dream narratives anchored in the experiences of childhoods, families and neighborhoods, which may be an organic or even helpless narrative cry against the rain and reign of chaos–natural disasters, endless, faceless wars and disrupted personal and political narratives. [more @figment]

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