When reading Japanese literature one can be transported to Japan's classical past by reading Murasaki Shikibu's _The Tale of Genji_ Sei Shonagon's _Pillow Book_, and Michitsuna's mother's _Kagero Diary_ or to Japan days of ribaldry through the works of Ihara Saikaku. In more recent times they can be transported to the ultra realistic and prosaic worlds of Naoya Shiga and Natsume Soseki, or the poetic worlds of Japan's golden past through Mishima Yukio and Kawabata Yasunari, or the post modern worlds of Murakami Haruki and Yoshimoto Banana. However, there is a seedier side to Japan's literature that can be found in the works of Kirino Natsuo, Nakagami Kenji, Yu Miri, and Murakami Ryu. Another name that should be added to this list is Nozaka Akiyuki. At first glance, one probably thinks that a book with a name like _The Pornographers_ strives to titilate its readers. This could not b further from the case.What this book does is give the reader a glimpse into Japan's underworld: the making of adult films, making films depicting rapes and other carnal fantasies. This book is a real eye opener and should be read with caution. Although it was translated 35 years ago, by a Jesuit no less, this book is often quite graphic, and its words might make the reader see his or her own dark passions.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The Best Book I Read in JapanAug. 23 1998
- Published on Amazon.com
While on a one year study abroad in Japan I read nearly all of the 20th centry fiction works in my school's extensive library. I believe this book to be the best I read. Although decades old, The Pornographers is still a startlingly accurate a portrayal of Japanese male sexuality, with all of it's bizarre twists and turns. Written with humor and warmth, I just kept laughing and shaking my head saying, "It's so true!" Whether you have a strong interest in Japanese culture or not, this book is a fascinating read from one of Japan's greatest authors.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Strange and oddly sweet.Oct. 21 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
In the opening of the book, Banteki is trying to sell audio recordings that he has made of Osaka residents in their more intimate moments. Much to his annoyance, one particularly juicy moment is wrecked because the woman in question had a tendency to whistle through her teeth at strange times. Another tape is not what it should be because the couple leaves the radio on so that all the would-be pornographers can hear are commercials for anti-nausea medication. Although disappointed, his buyer Subuyan is philosophical about it-- he believes that the tapes are still realistic, and it is realism that is the key to successful pornography.
With this opening, the reader is introduced to a dark and quirky novel which explores themes as diverse as sexual anthropology, fidelity, tradition and craftsmanship. Subuyan as the defender of the everyman of porn and Banteki as the misunderstood artist are cleverly drawn characters who are more memorable for their naïveté than their seediness. The Pornographers is an engaging and well-written book which makes its points deftly and with an arch sense of humor.
The Gallagher translation seems fine to me as a reader. At least, it read smoothly and I was not lost in parts of the text that I imagine a non-Japanese reader could get lost in. The reading experience is not complete-- I think that I miss a lot as a reader so much later and in such a different culture, but there are enough common areas to keep it interesting.
Recommended for fans of dark fiction or the modern Japanese novel. As is probably obvious, despite the sweetness it has some very adult material as a subject and is probably not a good book for younger readers.