This is my own personal list, reading Japanese authors earlier this year actually got me back into reading fiction on a regular basis so they really hold a special place in my heart. All of these books I gave 5 stars. If you haven’t read Japanese authors before, these are the ones I would really recommend giving a go. I still have a lot of books from each of these authors left to read so I will probably make more of these lists in the future. If you have any favourite Japanese authors or books that aren’t on this list, please feel free to leave me a recommendation in the comments and I will check it out.
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
Perhaps the most well-known (internationally) Japanese author (Norwegian Wood). Kafka on the Shore was the first Murakami book I read and it was way more than I was expecting. I was sucked into the story straight away and just wanted to keep reading it. It is filled with magical realism and by the end it just felt like home. I’m not really much of a rereader but I can definitely see this book being one that I go back to again and again. The characters are so unique and it keeps you asking yourself what is actually real and what isn’t. The book is told from 2 alternating perspectives which I am also a big fan of. I’m looking forward to getting around to reading more from Haruki Murakami.
The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima
Reading Mishima’s books got me back into reading on a regular basis earlier this year, for that I am ever thankful. I have read several of his translated novels and thoroughly enjoyed them all, but The Sound of Waves gave me the warm fuzzies. This is another book I can see myself revisiting again and again, the way Mishima describes his locations makes me feel like I’m there in Japan. Some of his other works are somewhat controversial and I still have a few of them left to read. I also find Mishima’s real life fascinating ad in of itself a story to be told. If you want to read something by him that is a little more sinister I would recommend The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea. Although he no longer writes new work, thankfully more of his existing work continues to be translated into English, and I plan on reading all of it.
Revenge by Yoko Ogawa
As far as I know, only 4 of Ogawa’s books have been translated into English so far. I’ve read 2 of them, revenge being one of those. A short book made up of 11 short stories that all inter connect in strange ways, I have never read anything like this before, and it was amazing. Twisted and fascinating, you will find yourself trying to make all of the connections as you read through the stories and getting utterly confused, in a good way. Another reread for me.
Goodbye Tsugumi by Banana Yoshimoto
I would consider Banana Yoshimoto’s books to be more contemporary based with magical realism in some of them. I have read several of her books and Goodbye Tsugumi is my favourite so far, her writing feels so natural and her books always seem to reach me in the feels. I would also recommend Kitchen, N.P and The Lake. Goodbye Tsugumi is mostly a bitter sweet feel good book for me, I felt sad to finish it because I wanted to read more and I’m sure it will be another one that I reread often.
Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
This one is more of a one hit wonder for me. Battle Royale is my favourite movie of all time so naturally I had to read the novel that it was based on. I read this quite a few years ago now and loved it just as much as the movie. I will say although most of the major plot points remain the same, the book is a lot more graphic in its violence. Battle Royale was also made into a manga series that is also very adult and graphic, more so than the movie. I highly recommend this book to people who enjoy some gore and controversy. I read the original translation and have since bought the retranslation that I will try to read soon.