Books: The Stationmaster (Jiro Asada)

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2011-01-30 11:58:15-05:00 No comments

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Jiro Asada is an example of a Japanese author who’s achieved great success in his own country but remains anonymous abroad. Stationmaster compiles a slew of short stories, including the title story which was the inspiration for the live-action film Poppoya Railroad Man. He may write about modern events—e.g., the paper marriage in “Love Letter”—but they are suffused with an unabashed sentimentality which to a reader new to current Japanese literature in translation may seem like a product of decades past. I’m not sure if that’s a deliberate affectation on his part or just a reflection of popular literature in Japan favoring the maudlin; I’m tilting more towards the latter. Many of his stories, like the titular one, deal with the old giving way to the new, but occasionally he makes forays into stranger, almost Nisioisin-like territory (“Devil”, “Kyara”), although his underlying sentiments comes through even there. On a scale of Banana Yoshimoto to Ryū Murakami, he’s somewhere around the former—more like slightly below it. A readable author, but from what I see, not one whose work stands up to re-reading.

Tags: Japan books review