Sure, Kelwyn. There are three stories, I am halfway through the first one, for which the book is named. My thought so far is that Japanese culture can be rather torturous? My substantiation for this being a novel I read when I was growing up, called Yuko Mishimia's The Sailor who fell with Grace from the Sea, which also focuses on the ways in which people are cruel to each other. Have you noticed that in Japanese writing? My exposure to this genre is minimal, so perhaps I am jumping to conclusions.
I'm a huge fan of Yasunari Kawabata, esp 'Snow Country'. Also selected Tanizaki (not all), Mishima (definitely not all) and one or two others. The earlier guy Soseki too. I find in Japanese fiction and poetry an ability to use understatement and a light touch which is hugely satisfying and instructive - though things quite often hover on the edge of the terrifying. Seem to remember there was a conversation on bookslive a long time ago about this: perhaps Louis Greenberg, and someone else, talking about Japanese literature. May have been Maya Fowler?
I agree with you about the understatement and light touch, Kelwyn, although I've read far fewer Japanese authors than you. Interestingly, I noticed Lauren Beukes mentioned a few Japanese writers in her summary of Comic Con, but they sound much more postmodern and 'poppy' than the fine meticulous prose, of say The Remains of the Day, Ishiguro. I think of that movie shot in Japan, the one w/Bill Murray, called Lost in Translation - that was quite instructive, albeit bleak.
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