MONKEY BRAIN SUSHI by Alfred Birnbaum


New Tastes in Japanese Fiction
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 A collection of short stories, excerpts from novels, and one manga comic from Japan's ``Brat Pack'' that, with one exception, have not previously appeared in the US. Known as fuikkushon writers because they resemble Westerners in their directness, use of pop-culture and idiom, these young men and women look to the American ``city novel'' as their model rather than to traditional Japanese writers. Brash, uneven in quality, and fiercely critical of much in contemporary Japan, the fiction here covers a wide range. Haruki Murakami's ``TV People,'' excerpted (in part) in The New Yorker, describes a world in which reality is being subverted by the manipulation of images. In Genichrio Takahashi's ``Christopher Columbus Discovers America,'' a journal to an American base in Yokohama is as much a cultural exploration as a literal journey through the city. K., obsessed with order, in Kyoji Kobayahshi's ``Mazelife,'' invents a Minotaur-like god to worship, and instead finds he has ``summoned a demon,'' with only destiny in the form of annihilation left for him. Meanwhile, in Masahiko Shimada's ``Momotaro in a Capsule,'' two law-abiding loners seek a ``rebellious phase'' and fail. And, in other notable pieces, a dutiful but unappreciated housewife finds happiness with a lesbian truck-driver; sadomasochism fulfills a hitherto melancholy call-girl; and a corrupt robot briefly finds love on a distant planet. With few exceptions, the writing is impressive more for its originality and fresh vision than for any great talent. But, still, a useful and lively introduction to a new generation of Japanese writers.

Pub Date: May 13th, 1991
ISBN: 4-7700-1543-7
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Kodansha
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1991


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