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Phantom Lights and Other Stories by Miyamoto Teru [Paperback]

Teru Miyamoto , Juliet Winters Carpenter , Roger K. Thomas

Price: CDN$ 14.53 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

Sept. 1 2011
Presenting a new collection of stories exploring the perennial themes of Miyamoto Teru's fiction, narrative sketches of the world-class world of the Osaka-Kobe region of his childhood employing memory to reveal a story in layered frames of time with consummate skill. His work examines the mutual proximity--or even the identity--of life and death, often touching on such grim topics with a touch of humor. Stories of personal triumph and hope are often set in situations involving death, illness, or loss, but what might be the stuff of tragedy in the hands of some writers turns into stepping stones for his characters to climb upward and onward.
Miyamoto's considerable and devoted following in Japan has come increasingly to be mirrored in other Asian countries and parts of Europe as his fiction has been translated into various languages. With renditions of only three of his works currently available in English, however, Anglophone readers have for the most part been unaware of the "Teru" literary phenomenon. The present collection aims to fill part of this lack by offering a selection of some his finest short stories along with one of his most admired novellas--Phantom Lights--which was made into the internationally acclaimed 1995 movie Maborosi by Koreeda Hirokazu.
The will to live, karma, and death are themes developed through the lives of Miyamoto's fictional characters, who struggle to achieve closure with their respective pasts and in their often difficult relations with others. The comments of Washington Times writer Anna Chambers in her review of Kinshu: Autumn Brocade aptly apply to the works presented here as well: "...existential crisis after existential crisis force the characters to question whether one can shape one's own karma--rather than construct one's own soul, as a Western reader might have put it. And herein lies the Westerner's entree into the book as more than an observer of Japanese culture." And like Kinshu, the stories in the present collection provide "a satisfying taste of what it means to grapple with fate at the intersection of modernity and tradition."
Miyamoto deftly weaves his tales using scenes and settings from his native Kansai region, and all are flavored with the language of western Japan. Like the depressed areas described in much of his fiction, his characters too are "left behind" by post-war Japan's rapid economic growth, by unexpected changes in their lives, or by the deaths of loved ones. His heroes are ordinary people who, as he puts it, "are trying to lift themselves up, who are struggling to live," and who achieve quiet triumphs.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Kurodahan Press (Sept. 1 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4902075423
  • ISBN-13: 978-4902075427
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 12.7 x 1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 222 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #632,011 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ghosts of the Past Feb. 26 2013
By Tony's Reading List - Published on Amazon.com
I hadn't heard of Teru Miyamoto before reading this collection, but he is a well-known (and popular) writer back in Japan, one who won the Akutagawa Prize. 'Phantom Lights' is a nice introduction to his work, consisting of eight stories written mostly in the 1980s, many of which are fairly autobiographical.

The title story is probably my favourite, mainly because it takes a step away from the author-centred focus of some of the other stories, casting a woman as the central character and spreading the action over a longer story (which leads me to think that Miyamoto's longer work might be worth checking out). The translation is generally good, although it's a shame the translator didn't try to tackle the (admittedly tricky) job of bringing across the flavour of the stories' Kansai (western Japan) setting.

An added bonus in this collection is a great introduction by the translator, giving background information about the writer and a brief commentary on some of the stories - something I'd like to see in more works of translated fiction :)

For a more in-depth review, please check out my post at Tony's Reading List.
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful short stories Oct. 22 2014
By S. N. Rivera Burgos - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Beautiful short stories. Everyone's feelings, simple, deep in our hearts, colorful. Already bought Kinshu to delight myself very soon. I also like his film Moboroshi, Nobody Knows ... i love Miyamoto Teru's sensitivity and the ways he tells it.

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