Before I went to Japan, I went to my library and got out a copy of Shogun, by James Clavell. I’m still only halfway through, although it’s a really compelling read, the kind of book you feel you need to curl up on a sofa with for days and days.
This morning, I was reading it on the Tube and a guy came and sat next to me. He was reading Empire of the Sun, by J G Ballard, another book I remember being absolutely compelling.
It made me wonder whether, because Japan is in the news, people are seeking stories set in Japan, as a way of trying to understand the culture that has produced such a stoic and resolute people.
Off the top of my head, here are five books I’ve read/am reading, set in Japan.
Empire of the Sun – J G Ballard
Shogun – James Clavell
Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami
You Only Live Twice – Ian Fleming
I love the way all their covers refer in some way to the Nisshōki, the Japanese flag with the red sun disc in the centre, as well as to the story they’re illustrating – the bullet hole idea for Bond, and the lipstick for the Geisha.
Anyone got any other suggestions to add to the list?