Here’s a quote:
“Japan is a country whose identity has been bowdlerized, hollowed out by a dream of Western dominance that no longer exists. It may make sense to see its recent surge in nationalism as a dumbed-down version of Japanese adolescence. This is a country spun around by its own single-minded pursuit of progress, and it has no idea who it’s supposed to be today.”
Here’s a link to the full article: http://world.time.com/2013/05/31/the-identity-crisis-that-lurks-behind-japans-right-wing-rhetoric/
Gemma Vidal (Okayama-ken, 2010-12) is a recently returned JET seeking work in product licensing and copyright (if it’s within the publishing industry, even better!). You can usually find her in her little web spaces Gem in the Rough and Peachy Keen (her JET adventures) or training with San Jose Taiko. If you know of any authors/aspiring writers you’d like to see featured in JET Alum Author Beat, just contact Gemma at gem.vidal [at] gmail.com.
- It’s less than a month until Robert Weston’s (Nara-ken, 2002-04) release of his new book, Prince Puggly of the Spiff and the Kingdom of Spud, and to mark the countdown he posted some of the artwork for the book. Victor Rivas is also behind the illustrations of Robert’s previous book, Zorgamazoo. Speaking of Zorgamazoo, it seems like we might be seeing this on the big screen! By the producers of Shrek no less! Congratulations on the film option Robert!
- What’s going on in the Japanese pop culture arena? Take a look at Roland Kelt’s (Osaka-shi, 1998-99) blog on his brief picture post on Japan’s Comiket, the mecca of all things self-published. Looking at his website made me realize that it was Hayao Miyazaki’s 72nd birthday this month. Shame on me, I know.
- Ari Kaplan, JET Alumni and author of Reinventing Professional Professional Services: Building Your Business in the Digital Marketplace, recently had his book translated into Japanese, which is under the title ハスラー プロフェッショナルたちの革新 . The translated book can be found at the publisher’s website. Here is what Ari had to say about his book being translated:
The publication of the Japanese edition offered me the opportunity to express my gratitude for the remarkable experience I had almost two decades ago. I dedicated this version to the Hyogo Prefectural Board of Education, Kobe Kohoku High School (where I taught), and the head of the English department at my school, among others.
Until next time JET alumni!
Gemma Vidal (Okayama-ken, 2010-12) is a recently returned JET seeking work in licensing/merchandising (if it’s within the publishing industry, even better!). You can usually find her in her little web spaces Gem in the Rough and Peachy Keen (her JET adventures) or training with San Jose Taiko. If you know of any authors/aspiring writers you’d like to see featured in JET Alum Author Beat, just contact Gemma at gem.vidal [at] gmail.com. She would also like to express her deepest condolences to the community of Newtown, Connecticut.
- Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99), author of Japanamerica wrote a special article for The Japan Times where he interviewed Pete Townshend, guitarist of The Who and discussed UK/Japan post-WWII similarities and Mr. Townshend’s recent memoir, “Who I Am”. You can find the article here. Roland Kelts also posted an interesting article on the possible decline of the pop culture phenomenon “Japan Cool”. That article can be found here at The Christian Science Monitor.
- If you’re looking for some light entertainment, Young Adult book Guardian of the Dead’s New Zealand author Karen Healey self-published a collection of essays titled Teen Movie Times. In this collection she muses on teen movie “classics” such as Bring it On and Clueless. Who knows, maybe one of these movies can be used in one of your lessons?
Roland Kelts, don’t kick me in the balls—
One man’s attempt to review a book honestly while still keeping friends
My girlfriend wouldn’t shut up about it.
“1Q84 is the best! Ah, when it comes out in English you need to read it!” Just talking about it made her rush to find her old copies (it was broken up into three books in Japan) and start reading them again. She was enthralled, to say the least. I’ve been a Murakami fan for a while: Norwegian Wood was emotional and sexually riveting; Dance Dance Dance was creepy as hell but lots of fun; Kafka on the Shore blew my mind. So I was hungry for 1Q84.
I picked it up shortly after it came out…and put it down for a while…then picked it up again…then down… then up…I think you get the idea. My feelings can kind of be summed up like this: Murakami’s previous books were like delicious sandwiches that left you wanting more. 1Q84 is like a two-foot long sub that filled you to bursting, but you’re still not totally satisfied.
The plot follows two people tied together by fate, love, and inter-dimensional happenstance. Tengo is an author and math teacher who finds himself embroiled in a shady plot to write an award-winning book. Aomame is a fitness instructor with a decidedly darker side job. Both find themselves in an altered version of 1984 called 1Q84 that deviates from the previous reality in specific ways. Those changes seem to revolve around a cult, a beautiful young girl, a book and mysterious “Little People.” Their battle to beat the odds and find each other, discover where they are, and who’s behind the changed world is an epic journey told through alternating perspectives.
1Q84 had all the things I love about Murakami: Super complex, interesting and engaging characters, crazy inter-dimensional sex, lots of mystery, and supernatural elements that bring it right on the cusp of reality, teetering between a fantasy realm and the real 1984. His ability to walk that line (like a cat walking a picket fence for those who love cats not only in Murakami novels, but also in reviews of Murakami novels) is astounding and he does it…for a really long time.
Gemma Vidal (Okayama-ken, 2010-12) is a recently returned JET seeking work in licensing/merchandising (if it’s within the publishing industry, even better!). You can usually find her in her little web spaces Gem in the Rough and Peachy Keen (her JET adventures) or training with San Jose Taiko. If you know of any authors/aspiring writers you’d like to see featured in JET Alum Author Beat, just contact Gemma at gem.vidal [at] gmail.com
- Congratulations are in order to Will Ferguson (Nagasaki-ken, 1991-94), author of Hitching Rides With the Buddha (f/k/a The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Japan), who was awarded the esteemed 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize for his novel 419. You can check out the announcement on the Scotiabank Giller Prize website and read more about his novel and other works on Will’s own website. Congratulations again, Will!
- What better way to warm up from the cold weather than a cup of sake! If you’re a fan of sake and live in Japan, check out John Gauntner’s (author of The Sake Handbook) annual Sake Professional Course 2013. It is a 5-day educational course which includes classroom sessions and visiting sake breweries in the Osaka/Kyoto/Kobe area. For more information about the schedule and registration, please visit the SPCJapan website. You can also download a free version of Sake: The Least You Need To Know, a quick start guide to sake here
- Suzanne Kamata (Tokushima-ken, 1998-90), author of Losing Kei and fiction editor of Literary Mama announced that her latest Young Adult novel, Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible will be published by GemmaMedia (cool name) in May 2013! Gadget Girl follows the life of 14-year old Aiko Cassidy and her dream to become a manga artist. The story won the SCBWI Magazine Merit Award in Fiction. You can check out the book on her website or through Amazon, Powells, and Indiebound.
- Japanamerica’s Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99) will lead a presentation titled, “Japan’s New Anti-Piracy Law and the Online Media Debate” with media lawyer David B. Hoppe and music journalist Steve McClure on November 14th.
- Attention NY residents! James Kennedy (Nara-ken, 2004-06), author of The Order of Odd-Fish is holding a signing on November 27th at the Pittsford Barnes & Noble in Rochester at 7PM and presenting new material on November 28th at Writers and Books (also in Rochester with a $5 fee). Details can be found on James’ website and this site for the November 28th event. Go and show your support!
- Want a chance to win a free book written by one of our own? Benjamin Martin (Okinawa-ken, 2008-Present), publisher of the More Things Japanese blog is giving away two personalized copies of his new book, Samurai Awakenings which was just released last month! The giveaway ends on November 30th, so go to Goodreads and sign up! You can read JETwit’s own brief interview with Benjamin about his book.
“In a universe torn by war, two governments vie for power: the elemental Kingdom and the telepathic Hierarchy. Hierarchy women with animal bonds think nothing of sacrificing their beasts’ lives to protect themselves. Except sixteen-year-old Renagada. The bond with her carrion-eater bird Acha is two-sided, and she knows his mind as much as he knows hers. When Rena overhears her parents plotting to kill Acha because of superstition, she must leave her fiancé and home of sheltered luxury to flee with Acha into the desert. Peril awaits them at every turn, and someone is tracking them…”
And that’s all for this round of the Author Beat!
In a new article by JET alum Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99) on Pete Townshend in The New Yorker, Kelts references his book Japanamerica—of which Townshend said “I love that book!” to JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi at an NYC signing yesterday for his new memoir Who I Am—at the end of the article and offers some thoughts contrasting the experience of artists in the U.K. and Japan after World War II.
I first met Pete Townshend fifteen years ago in a modest London hotel suite. I was there with my friend Larry David Smith to interview Townshend for Smith’s book, “The Minstrel’s Dilemma.” We were already seated inside when I looked out the first-floor window and saw Townshend pulling into the parking lot.
He arrived alone, sans entourage or fanfare, driving himself in a gray Mercedes station wagon. Minutes later, the knob on the suite door rattled and shook. I stood, thinking that it might be a member of the hotel staff and wondering if I should turn the knob from our side. There was a pause, then more rattling, then the door swung open and Townshend burst through, eyes wide with exertion. He had apparently been trying to pull when he should have pushed.
We were scheduled to meet for two hours, but Townshend was unstoppable, regaling us not with stories of rock debauchery, but a stream of complex, sometimes half-formed ideas about popular culture, history, and human psychology. We were told not to ask him about his failing marriage; he immediately addressed it, confessing to a jolt of sadness while shaving that morning. “Don’t mention Keith Moon,” wrote his personal assistant via fax. “I never properly mourned for Keith,” he soon said, unprompted, and through tears.
For the complete story, click here.
Thanks to Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99) for sharing the link to this NHK video on Tuesday night’s JETAANY Japan Fundraiser:
A Letter from A Public Space (Brooklyn-based literary publication):
A Public Space Literary Projects announces the debut issue of MONKEY BUSINESS: New Voices from Japan, with April/May launch events in New York City.
New York City, New York, April 4, 2011—A Public Space (APS) announces publication of the first annual English language edition of Monkey Business: New Voices from Japan (MB), supported by a generous grant from the Nippon Foundation. Three launch programs in New York City in late April and early May will bring together authors, translators and editors from Japan and the US for this first-of-its-kind trans-cultural literary event. Twenty-five percent of all MB sales will go toward the Nippon Foundation/CANPAN Northeastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund.
Monkey Business is a Tokyo-based Japanese literary magazine founded in 2008 by award-winning translator, scholar, editor and author Motoyuki Shibata. One of Japan’s best known and most highly regarded translators of American fiction, Shibata has won numerous accolades, most recently the 2010 Japan Translation Cultural Prize for his translation of Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon, and has introduced to Japanese readers works by Paul Auster, Steven Millhauser, Rebecca Brown, Stuart Dybek and Steve Erickson, among others.
Shibata, who was interviewed in the first issue of APS, modeled MB in part on the Brooklyn literary journal. Founded in 2006 by editor Brigid Hughes, A Public Space is devoted to cutting-edge literature—not just from American contributors, but by writers and artists spanning the globe. Each issue presents a portfolio that explores an international literary scene. The debut issue of APS featured a portfolio from Japan, curated and edited by author Roland Kelts (Japanamerica) and MB founder Shibata, and featuring contributions from Haruki Murakami, Yoko Ogawa, Kazushige Abe and others. Issue 1 was praised by readers in the US and Japan and has long been sold out.”
Attention JETAA UK! Join Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99), author of Japanamerica, at The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation in London on Thursday, April 14 for a talk on “Pop culture from a Multipolar Japan.” Talk is 4-5 pm followed by drinks reception to 6pm.
Note: If you plan on attending, please register for the event at http://www.dajf.org.uk/events/booking-form
Hey JETAA New England! Join Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99), author of Japanamerica, at Anime Boston this coming weekend for a Japanamerica talk and book-signing session Saturday, April 3, @ 1:30 p.m. in the Hynes Convention Center in downtown Boston.
After a quick jaunt back to Tokyo, Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99), author of Japanamerica, is back in the U.S. and on the road this week for a short stint for the Association of Asian Studies’ (AAS) Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, where he will appear on Friday, March 26 for a discussion panel called “The Japan Knowledge Industry Outside the Academy“ with fellow author and JET Alum Karl Taro Greenfeld (Kanagawa-ken, 1988-89) (Speed Tribes: Days and Nights With Japan’s Next Generation), author William M. Tsutsui (Godzilla on my Mind), journalist Misako Hida (The Wall Street Journal Japan), and Professor Laura Miller (Bad Girls of Japan).
The discussion takes place this Friday, March 26, from 10:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown Hotel. More info can be found under “# 69″ here: http://www.aasianst.org/annual-meeting/2010/Friday.pdf
Philly-area JET alums are encouraged to swing by and say hello.
Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99), author of Japanamerica, has published his latest SOFT POWER/HARD TRUTHS column for The Daily Yomiuri–this one about last month’s sentencing of American Chris Handley for possession of ‘obscene manga’ in Iowa–and this month’s proposal by the Tokyo Government to censor ‘virtual porn’ (read: manga and anime) in Japan.
Is this another example of ‘gaitsu‘–Japan being affected by foreign pressure?
Column is here: http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/features/arts/20100319TDY11101.htm
All the JETAA Southeast alums will have a chance to meet and hear Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99), author of Japanamerica, speak at Keenesaw State University in Atlanta, GA on Thursday, March 4 from 6:30-8:00 pm. If you happen to go and say hi, let him know you heard about the event on JetWit. Also, email JetWit (jetwit [at] jetwit.com) to let us know how the event was so we can share it with the rest of the JET alum community.
Here’s the flyer with all the relevant info for the event:
He recently appeared on ABC’s World News Tonight. And even more recently he was commissioned to write an op-ed for the Christian Science Monitor to clarify some of the vast cultural misreadings evident in the Congressional Toyota/Toyoda hearings.
- Toyota and trust: Was the Akio Toyoda apology lost in translation? Stung by Toyota recalls, Toyoda had to convey sincerity – and bridge the gulf in communication styles between Japan and America. http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2010/0225/Toyota-and-trust-Was-the-Akio-Toyoda-apology-lost-in-translation
- Roland is also quoted in this AP article on Toyota: “Toyota President Battles Crisis in Family Company“ http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2010/02/19/toyota_president_battles_crisis_in_family_company/?page=full
And addressed the topic of Toyota in an interesting way in his recent Daily Yomiuri column on The Super Bowl, Toyota, Anime and Hollywood:
- SOFT POWER, HARD TRUTHS / Anime must eventually transcend Japan ‘national’ brand http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/features/arts/20100219TDY11003.htm
And if you’re looking for commentary on non-Toyota topics, then you can listen to Roland’s recent appearance on NPR discussing a wild relic of Japanese popular culture, a viral video of Japanese ‘Jazz Opera,’ produced in 1986 by Tamori, the great comedian: