Short Japanese novels

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chamcham Member
Registered: 2005-11-11 Posts: 1445

Does anyone recommend any short Japanese novels (諸説)?
By short, I mean up to 150 pages.

So far I like Mori Eto (森絵都).
A couple of her books are 130 pages.

リズム (https://bookweb.kinokuniya.co.jp/guest/cgi-bin/wshoseaohb.cgi?W-NIPS=9984651401&AREA=02&LANG=J)

さゆきは中学1年生。近所に住むいとこの真ちゃんが、小さい頃から大好きだった。真ちゃんは高校には行かず、バイトをしながらロックバンドの活動に打ち込んでいる。金髪頭に眉をひそめる人もいるけれど、さゆきにとっては昔も今も変わらぬ存在だ。ある日さゆきは、真ちゃんの両親が離婚するかもしれないという話を耳にしてしまい。第31回講談社児童文学新人賞、第2回椋鳩十児童文学賞を受賞した、著者のデビュー作。


ゴ-ルド・フィッシュ (https://bookweb.kinokuniya.co.jp/guest/ … amp;LANG=J)

中学3年になったさゆきは、高校受験をひかえ揺れていた。大好きないとこの真ちゃんは、音楽で成功するという夢のために東京へ出て行った。幼なじみのテツは、めっきり大人びて、自分の進む道を見つけている。それに引き換え、さゆきは未だにやりたいことが見つからない。そんなある日、真ちゃんのバンドが解散したという話を聞き。デビュー作『リズム』の2年後の世界を描き、世代を超えて熱い支持を得る著者の初期傑作。

リズム (Rhythm)was Mori Eto's first published novel.
ゴ-ルド・フィッシュ (Goldfish) is a sequel that happens a few years later.

Thanks.

Fillanzea Member
From: New York, NY Registered: 2009-10-02 Posts: 534 Website

「キッチン」 by 吉本ばなな is 200 pages, but the main story is only 150 pages. It's the first novel I read all the way through in Japanese; the language is very easy.

家族という、確かにあったものが年月の中でひとりひとり減っていって、自分がひとりここにいるのだと、ふと思い出すと目の前にあるものがすべて、うそに見えてくる―。唯一の肉親の祖母を亡くしたみかげが、祖母と仲の良かった雄一とその母(実は父親)の家に同居する。日々のくらしの中、何気ない二人の優しさにみかげは孤独な心を和ませていくのだが。世界二十五国で翻訳され、読みつがれる永遠のベスト・セラー小説。泉鏡花文学賞受賞。

蛇にピアス by 金原ひとみ is only 114 pages. It won the Akutagawa prize but I really hated it; it's nihilistic, it's violent, what's the point of anything that happens in the story? But it is short, and you might feel differently.

ピアッシングや刺青などの身体改造を題材に、現代の若者の心に潜む不気味な影と深い悲しみを、大胆な筆致で捉えた問題作である。埋め込んだピアスのサイズを大きくしていきながら、徐々に舌を裂いていくスプリットタン、背中一面に施される刺青、SM的なセックスシーン。迫力に満ちた描写の一方で、それを他人ごとのように冷めた視線で眺めている主人公の姿が印象的だ。第130回芥川賞受賞作品。
顔面にピアスを刺し、龍の刺青を入れたパンク男、アマと知り合った19歳のルイ。アマの二股の舌に興味を抱いたルイは、シバという男の店で、躊躇(ちゅうちょ)なく自分の舌にもピアスを入れる。それを期に、何かに押されるかのように身体改造へとのめり込み、シバとも関係を持つルイ。たが、過去にアマが殴り倒したチンピラの死亡記事を見つけたことで、ルイは言いようのない不安に襲われはじめる。

I really like 森絵都; have you read her book of short stories 風に舞い上がるビニールシート? It's so good!

dizmox Member
Registered: 2007-08-11 Posts: 1149

The first (and still only) novel I've read in Japanese was スティルライフ by 池澤夏樹. That won the Akutagawa prize and is about 200 pages too. Not much happens in it, but I think it's a nice, easy read.

Last edited by dizmox (2011 November 12, 10:52 am)

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Splatted Member
From: England Registered: 2010-10-02 Posts: 776

Are books of short stories okay too? Thanks to IceCream's reccomendation I'm part way through 死神の精度 (the accuracy of death), by 伊坂幸太郎 (Isaka Koutarou), and I'm really enjoying it. It's 345 pages long but contains 6 stories that can be read entirely independantly. The main character is the same throughout but that's all that linked the two I've read.

You've probably already seen some of the countless other reccomendations, but キノの旅 (Kino's Journey) is pretty good. Right now I'm alternating between reading stories from キノの旅 and 死神の精度 as the mood takes me.

I'm guessing these aren't anything like mori eto's books though, since those appear to be romances.

Bokusenou Member
From: America Registered: 2007-01-12 Posts: 820 Website

天国の本屋 by 松久淳 is the easiest book meant for adults that I've read. It's also really short. About a hundred pages, but there is a watercolor illustration every few pages. It has a few pages of description at the beginning, but after that it's mostly dialogue. I wrote a full review of it here if you want to know more.

Fillanzea Member
From: New York, NY Registered: 2009-10-02 Posts: 534 Website

I almost feel like I have to defend the honor of Mori Eto! She's not a romance writer. She writes literary fiction and children's/YA fiction, and her prose is as complex and honed as I've seen from a contemporary Japanese writer. Not that there's anything wrong with romances.

(If you like sports stories you should read DIVE!)

Shinichirou Member
Registered: 2011-03-13 Posts: 98

Please forgive me posting in this section, it is so I can find this very useful post later without much difficulty.

Splatted Member
From: England Registered: 2010-10-02 Posts: 776

I didn't intend the romance label to be in any way derogatory, and I've no idea why you seem to think romance = badly written. I'm not surprised I got it wrong since I just read the description of the first book and made a quick guess as to its genre, hence the "appear to be". I didn't read the second description because I thought it might contain spoilers about the first book, which I think I'm quite likely to read, since it's short and reccomended.

Thanks for the reccomendation of DIVE. I'm not really in to sport stories, but I found myself INNOCENTly posessing a copy, so I think I'll give it a go as my first Mori Eto book.

Fillanzea Member
From: New York, NY Registered: 2009-10-02 Posts: 534 Website

Sorry, I don't want to derail this too far, and I apologize if I was snippy. I just think that a lot of people do dismiss romance out of hand, and from what I've read of Mori Eto's work, I think it's really refreshing how much she focuses on aspects of a woman's life that aren't just about love and marriage. So I don't want people to get the wrong impression.

TheSlyPig Member
From: WA USA Registered: 2011-09-28 Posts: 39

If anyone would like to share ways, links, stores that you get cheap Japanese literature in general, it would be greatly appreciated. smile

leosmith Member
Registered: 2005-11-18 Posts: 352

How about any simple , short novels that have english translations available? Kitchen does. Any others?

hobofat Member
From: Hawaii Registered: 2009-09-01 Posts: 21

時をかける少女 by 筒井康隆(つついやすたか)is quite a nice read.  It's a little longer than you mentioned at 229 pages, but the language is quite straightforward and easy to follow.  A lot of my co-workers here in Japan said they read it when they were in junior high and waxed nostalgic for awhile, so about that level.  Much easier than that "Kino no tabi" series so many seem to recommend.

Also, check out anything by 赤川次郎 (あかがわじろう) as his books are largely conversation based and thus (for me anyway) easy to follow.  I particularly liked ふたり and 森がわたしを呼んでいる.  Not really my style for English language books, but at this point anything that causes me to forget I'm reading in a foreign language is enjoyable for me.

zigmonty Member
From: Melbourne Registered: 2009-06-04 Posts: 671

hobofat wrote:

時をかける少女 by 筒井康隆(つついやすたか)is quite a nice read.  It's a little longer than you mentioned at 229 pages, but the language is quite straightforward and easy to follow.

I'll second this. This was the first novel i read in japanese and i read it in about 2-3 days, couldn't put it down.

Tzadeck Member
From: Kinki Registered: 2009-02-21 Posts: 2487

I'm surprised that it's easier than キノの旅, because that book is surprisingly easy.  I've been reading ノルウェイの森 for a while, but my pace has been slow so I've only just started the second volume (I've been doing N1 specific stuff so I also haven't had much time to read it).  But I picked up キノの森 and read like 40 pages of it in a day without a dictionary; it's a real breeze.

squarezebra Member
From: England Registered: 2009-10-06 Posts: 124

You say that キノの旅 is easy, but what do we mean by easy? I finished book 1 a few days ago, and although I've completed the Core 6k I still had to add around 900 words to my vocab decks. I'm not sure if I'd call that 'easy'.

Tzadeck Member
From: Kinki Registered: 2009-02-21 Posts: 2487

In relative difficulty:
博士の愛した数式: I tried to start reading a few months ago and decided after two pages that it was completely impossible.
ノルウェイの森: I started reading when I failed at 博士の愛した数式.  It still takes me quite a few minutes to read a page (5 minutes?) when I'm looking up every word I don't understand.
キノの旅: There's maybe a word I don't understand per page, but it never seems to be one that's integral enough for the story for me to look it up.  I think I'm 65 pages in and I haven't looked up a word.  I can read maybe two pages a minute?

So, compared to two books that were extremely popular among adults, キノの旅 is faaaaar and away easier.  (It's also ridiculously easy when compared with, say, 涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱.  It's probably at about the same level as a translation of Matilda that I read--a book that I originally read in English in fourth grade.)

Last edited by Tzadeck (2011 November 13, 7:41 am)

squarezebra Member
From: England Registered: 2009-10-06 Posts: 124

I totally understand what you mean, and you've hit the nail on the head. It is all relative, and thats the problem. I'm not sure terms like 'easy' or 'difficult' are ever helpful without providing a some kind o benchmark. For example, to say that "キノの旅 should be easy if you've completed 10k vocabulary" or "easy if you have read (Insert unreasonably difficult book title here)".

Some might think that i'm nitpicking here, but I'm really not. It's actually really really depressing when you're struggling through something that a ton of people refer to as "easy". .

I'm not blaming anyone for that, btw... and I'm sure it won't be long until I'm also thinking its easy... just I'm not there yet lol.

Tzadeck Member
From: Kinki Registered: 2009-02-21 Posts: 2487

Well, another thing about Core 6000 is that the first two thousand are common words in almost any medium, but the last 4,000 are very business/news/current events oriented.  So you basically learned 2,000 words that have a high chance of appearing in キノの旅, and then 4,000 words that have a low chance of appearing thanks to it being a fantasy-ish novel.  So even word counts are extremely misleading.

Splatted Member
From: England Registered: 2010-10-02 Posts: 776

It's definitely worth mentioning that there are a lot of books that are easier than キノの旅. I actually gave up on it the first time I tried and read ゼロの使い魔 instead. Right now I think that 死神の精度 is a little easier than キノの旅 volume 2, and since my primary study method is reading, I'd expect to find the series I've read more of the easiest, so that probably means  that 死神の精度 is even easier than it seems to me. I did find it quite confusing when I first started it though.

The books I've read in order of difficulty (easiest to hardest) are:

Edit: If you've done something like core6000 the first two should probably be the other way round.

ゼロの使い魔             
死神の精度
キノの旅
All You Need is Kill

When I say read I don't mean finished, just far enough along to have a pretty good idea of what the book's like.  I wouldn't worry much about whether a book's too hard though; If a book interests you then try reading it. If you get sick of it you don't have push yourself to finish it. Just put it aside and try reading something else. I find changing between books keeps me interested, and when you go back to something you were reading a little while ago it really makes it clear how much you've improved.

By the way, my level is significantly below Tzadeck's and squarezebra's. I'm looking up several words per paragraph, and when I first started on キノの旅 I was looking up almost every word. In terms of formal vocab study, I haven't even completed all the  (old) N3 words.

TheSlyPig wrote:

If anyone would like to share ways, links, stores that you get cheap Japanese literature in general, it would be greatly appreciated. smile

You shouldn't bother searching the forums for "a totally innocent thread about 日本語 books" because you definitely won't find anything worth your while (also be aware that the forum search function can't handle Japanese characters). On a completely unrelated note, I came across all the books I've mentioned on this thread entirely innocently.

Fillanzea wrote:

Sorry, I don't want to derail this too far, and I apologize if I was snippy. I just think that a lot of people do dismiss romance out of hand, and from what I've read of Mori Eto's work, I think it's really refreshing how much she focuses on aspects of a woman's life that aren't just about love and marriage. So I don't want people to get the wrong impression.

Sorry, I didn't mean to sound snippy either. I just find it a bit annoying when people dismiss certain genres as sub-par. I actually appreciated your correction because I'm not really in to romance either and you made her books sound really interesting.

Last edited by Splatted (2012 March 19, 1:44 pm)

leosmith Member
Registered: 2005-11-18 Posts: 352

I like to read a few pages in Japanese, then re-read them in English. I hate reading on my computer. Having a translation saves looking up words, helps me figure out difficult sentences, and makes the reading experience enjoyable even if the book is out of my league. Books mentioned so far that are available in english

キッチン by 吉本ばなな = Kitchen by Yoshimoto Banana
蛇にピアス by 金原ひとみ = Snakes and Earrings by Hitomi Kanehara
スティルライフ by 池澤夏樹 = Still Lives by Natsuki Ikezawa
キノの旅 = Kino's Journey by Keiichi Sigsawa
時をかける少女 by 筒井康隆 = The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Yasutaka Tsutsui
ノルウェイの森 = Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱 = The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa
ゼロの使い魔 = Zero's Familiar

Last edited by leosmith (2011 November 13, 9:22 am)

pm215 Member
From: UK Registered: 2008-01-26 Posts: 1354

leosmith wrote:

涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱 = The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya by Noizi Ito

Actually this one's by Nagaru Tanigawa; Itou is the illustrator.
(just finished book 8 last night...)

leosmith Member
Registered: 2005-11-18 Posts: 352

pm215 wrote:

leosmith wrote:

涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱 = The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya by Noizi Ito

Actually this one's by Nagaru Tanigawa; Itou is the illustrator.
(just finished book 8 last night...)

thanks

Bokusenou Member
From: America Registered: 2007-01-12 Posts: 820 Website

Interesting about Kino no Tabi's easiness level. The writing is pretty straightforward, but there isn't that much furigana, and I think a book's easiness level is largely determined by how much furigana it has, so maybe I should recommend some 児童文学...

The 魔女の宅急便 and 獣の奏者 series are really good, and both have lots of furigana.

Tori-kun このやろう
Registered: 2010-08-27 Posts: 1193 Website

Bokusenou wrote:

Interesting about Kino no Tabi's easiness level. The writing is pretty straightforward [...]

Yeah, have to agree on that. But I shrugged when I saw words like 燻らす O.o

quark Member
From: Canada Registered: 2011-10-11 Posts: 201

Has anyone read the マリア様が見てる series?  How is the difficulty level with those books?  I'd like to make a goal to try to read them in 6 months (after I finish KO2001, work on とびら! and do a lot of reading and adding vocab to Anki) but am wondering if maybe that's setting my hopes too high.  Right now I'm finding it a huge struggle to even read novels for elementary kids.