Sometimes I am incredibly lucky and this is one of those time! Pan Macmillan Australia recently ran a TikTok giveaway of a stack of Japanese translated fiction books and I was lucky enough to win it! Some of these I had read, others I hadn’t but were on my TBR list, and some I’d never heard of but sounded incredible. So let’s dive into this amazing stack of books that showed up on my doorstep.
The Kamogawa Food Detectives by Hisashi Kashiwai
What’s the one dish you’d do anything to taste just one more time?
Down a quiet backstreet in Kyoto exists a very special restaurant called the Kamogawa Diner run by Koishi Kamogawa and her father Nagare. Customers who can find the hidden diner are treated to an extravagant meal, but it’s not the main reason for visiting . . .
The father-daughter duo have started advertising their services as ‘food detectives’, capable of recreating a dish from their customers’ pasts that may well hold the key to forgotten memories and ongoing happiness.
From the widower looking for a specific noodle dish that his wife used to cook to a first love’s beef stew, the restaurant of lost recipes provides a link to the past and a way to a more contented future.
A bestseller in Japan, The Kamogawa Food Detectives is a celebration of good company and the power of a delicious meal.
The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa
Grandpa used to say it all the time: books have tremendous power. But what is that power really?
Natsuki Books was a tiny second-hand bookshop on the edge of town. Inside, towering shelves reached the ceiling, every one crammed full of wonderful books. Rintaro Natsuki loved this space that his grandfather had created. He spent many happy hours there, reading whatever he liked. It was the perfect refuge for a boy who tended to be something of a recluse.
After the death of his grandfather, Rintaro is devastated and alone. It seems he will have to close the shop. Then, a talking tabby cat called Tiger appears and asks Rintaro for help. The cat needs a book lover to join him on a mission. This odd couple will go on three magical adventures to save books from people who have imprisoned, mistreated and betrayed them. Finally, there is one last rescue that Rintaro must attempt alone . . .
The Cat Who Saved Books is a heart-warming story about finding courage, caring for others – and the tremendous power of books. Sosuke Natsukawa’s international bestseller, translated from Japanese by Louise Heal Kawai, is a story for those for whom books are so much more than words on paper.
If Cats Disappeared From The World by Genki Kawamura
Our narrator’s days are numbered. Estranged from his family, living alone with only his cat Cabbage for company, he was unprepared for the doctor’s diagnosis that he has only months to live. But before he can set about tackling his bucket list, the Devil appears with a special offer: in exchange for making one thing in the world disappear, he can have one extra day of life. And so begins a very bizarre week . . .
Because how do you decide what makes life worth living? How do you separate out what you can do without from what you hold dear? In dealing with the Devil our narrator will take himself – and his beloved cat – to the brink. Genki Kawamura’s If Cats Disappeared from the World is a story of loss and reconciliation, of one man’s journey to discover what really matters in modern life.
Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshirazu Kawaguchi
In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.
In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early onset Alzheimer’s, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.
But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold …
Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s beautiful, moving story explores the age-old question: what would you change if you could travel back in time? More importantly, who would you want to meet, maybe for one last time?
Before the Coffee Gets Cold Tales from the Cafe by Toshirazu Kawaguchi
In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time…
From the author of Before the Coffee Gets Cold comes a story of four new customers each of whom is hoping to take advantage of Cafe Funiculi Funicula’s time-travelling offer.
Among some faces that will be familiar to readers of Kawaguchi’s previous novel, we will be introduced to:
The man who goes back to see his best friend who died 22 years ago
The son who was unable to attend his own mother’s funeral
The man who went back to see the girl who he could not marry
The old detective who never gave his wife that gift…
Before Your Memory Fades by Toshirazu Kawaguchi
The third novel in the international bestselling Before the Coffee Gets Cold series, following four new customers in a cafe where customers can travel back in time.
In northern Japan, overlooking the spectacular view Hakodate Port has to offer, Cafe Donna Donna has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.
From the author of Before the Coffee Gets Cold and Tales from the Cafe comes another story of four new customers, each of whom is hoping to take advantage of the cafe’s time-travelling offer. Among some familiar faces from Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s previous novels, readers will also be introduced to:
A daughter who couldn’t say ‘You’re an idiot.’
A comedian who couldn’t ask ‘Are you happy?’
A younger sister who couldn’t say ‘Sorry.’
A young man who couldn’t say ‘I like you.
Before We Say Goodbye by Toshirazu Kawaguchi
The regulars at the magical Cafe Funiculi Funicula are well acquainted with its famous legend and extraordinary, secret menu time travel offering. Many patrons have reunited with old flames, made amends with estranged family, and visited loved ones. But the journey is not without risks and there are rules to follow. Travellers must have visited the cafe previously and most importantly, must return to the present in the time it takes for their coffee to go cold.
In the tradition of Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s sensational ‘Before the Coffee Gets Cold’ series, readers will once again be introduced to a new set of visitors:
The husband with something important left to say
The woman who couldn’t bid her dog farewell
The woman who couldn’t answer a proposal
The daughter who drove her father away . . .
All the Lovers in the Night by Mieko Kawakami
From international literary sensation Mieko Kawakami comes All the Lovers in the Night, an extraordinary, deeply moving and insightful story set in contemporary Tokyo.
Fuyuko Irie is a freelance proofreader in her thirties. Living alone, and unable to form meaningful relationships, she has little contact with anyone other than Hijiri, someone she works with. When she sees her reflection, she’s confronted with a tired and spiritless woman who has failed to take control of her own life. Her one source of solace: light. Every Christmas Eve, Fuyuko heads out to catch a glimpse of the lights that fill the Tokyo night. But it is a chance encounter with a man named Mitsutsuka that awakens something new in her. And so her life begins to change.
As Fuyuko starts to see the world in a different light, painful memories from her past begin to resurface. Fuyuko needs to be loved, to be heard, and to be seen. But living in a small world of her own making, will she find the strength to bring down the walls that surround her? All the Lovers in the Night is acute and insightful, entertaining and captivating, pulsing and poetic, modern and shocking. It’s another unforgettable novel from Japan’s most exciting writer.
Heaven by Mieko Kawakami
SHORTLISTED FOR THE INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE 2022
From the bestselling author of Breasts and Eggs and international literary sensation Mieko Kawakami, comes a sharp and illuminating novel about a fourteen-year-old boy subjected to relentless bullying.
Hailed as a bold foray into new literary territory, Kawakami’s novel is told in the voice of a fourteen-year-old student subjected to relentless torment for having a lazy eye. Instead of resisting, the boy suffers in complete resignation. The only person who understands what he is going through is a female classmate who suffers similar treatment at the hands of her tormenters.
The young friends meet in secret in the hopes of avoiding any further attention and take solace in each other’s company, completely unaware that their relationship has not gone unnoticed by their bullies . . .
Kawakami’s simple yet profound new work stands as a dazzling testament to her literary talent. Here, she asks us to question the fate of the meek in a society that favours the strong, and the lengths that even children will go in their learned cruelty. There can be little doubt that it has cemented her reputation as one of the most important young authors working to expand the boundaries of contemporary Japanese literature.
Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami
On a hot summer’s day in a poor suburb of Tokyo we meet three women: thirty-year-old Natsuko, her older sister Makiko, and Makiko’s teenage daughter Midoriko. Makiko, an ageing hostess despairing the loss of her looks, has travelled to Tokyo in search of breast enhancement surgery. She’s accompanied by Midoriko, who has recently stopped speaking, finding herself unable to deal with her own changing body and her mother’s self-obsession. Her silence dominates Natsuko’s rundown apartment, providing a catalyst for each woman to grapple with their own anxieties and their relationships with one another.
Eight years later, we meet Natsuko again. She is now a writer and find herself on a journey back to her native city, returning to memories of that summer and her family’s past as she faces her own uncertain future.
In Breasts and Eggs Mieko Kawakami paints a radical and intimate portrait of contemporary working class womanhood in Japan, recounting the heartbreaking journeys of three women in a society where the odds are stacked against them. This is an unforgettable full length English language debut from a major new international talent.
Don’t these books sound incredible!! I’m particularly keen to finish the Before the Coffee Gets Cold series as I loved reading book one and two. The Kamogawa Food Detectives also sounds so good! I love a book that involves food at its centre. Reading more Japanese translated fiction has been something I’ve been wanting to do and integrate more into my reading habits so thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for running such a fun giveaway, I feel so luck and privileged to have won these incredible books. My summer reading is sorted!!
Let me know if you’ve read any of these or are adding any to your TBR pile!