Erotic. Daring. Captivating. These are just some of the words used to describe Japanese writer Misumi Kubo (窪 美澄).
The Tokyo-born writer is known for her dramatic erotic writing and has picked up the R-18 Literature Award, Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize, and Yamada Fūtarō Prize during her outstanding literary career.
The KESHIKI collection of Strangers Press first brought Misumi Kubo to a Western audience by releasing her 2009 short story, Mikumari, in English translation (Polly Barton: 2017).
Four years later... we eagerly await her novel, 'So We Look To The Sky' (published in Japanese in 2010), which comes out in English translation in August 2021.
Here's why you should read Misumi Kubo.
Translated by Polly Barton.
This short story shows an affair between a schoolboy and a married cosplayer ten years his senior, their dependency on each other (for different reasons), and the psychological ramifications of their connection.
Packed full of drama, eroticism, emotional complications, and a dash of raw humour- this really is a must-read for your next train journey.
'Mikumari has both the sensuous power and the humour of a dream' - Naomi Alderman (foreword)
Mikumari lingers poignantly on the heart and mind long after its close. And is filled with some of the most stunning writing in all of translated Japanese literature.
'The summer sun shone on her face, picking out the freckles that covered her cheeks like galaxies of stars.'
'Sometimes when you're thinking a lot about a certain person, you end up bumping into them, completely by chance, when you're least expecting to. It always shocks me when that happens, as if the contents of my mind have leaped out of my head and taken shape right in front of me.''I stood in the middle of the bridge and stared at the sky, stained the colour of honey by the sinking sun.'
Thinking about reading more Japanese short stories? Click here!
So We Look to the Sky
Translated by Polly Barton. Published by Arcade: 3 August 2021
‘A searing and prismatic portrait of the relentless pressures of ordinary life in modern Japan’ – Pen Magazine
So We Look to the Sky is set to be one of the translated Japanese books of 2021.
A woman has a sensual affair with a student 10 years younger than her. Her husband leaks a tape. This sets the stage for 5 linked stories (including Mikamuri) that lay bare the issues surrounding the role of women in Japanese society, the role of female body, and the helplessness of Japan's young as a result of bullying (ijime) and social pressures. Sexual, exciting and searingly real, this novel asks more questions than it answers... and is guaranteed to keep you up at night.
For more Misumi Kubo - read From The Left Bank of the Flu.
Japanese Literature in translation continues to grow in popularity. Please click here to receive a Japanese novel (in English) every month!