Underappreciated: Yasunari Kawabata

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

For this week’s installment of Underappreciated, Martin Holman, literary translator, professor, and puppeteer, discusses the work of Yasunari Kawabata. After a tragic childhood, during which Kawabata lost nearly every one of his close family members, he achieved recognition from a number of his short stories shortly after he graduated from university. Kawabata received particular acclaim for The Dancing Girl of Izu in 1926. He went on to publish several successful novels, and in 1968: Kawabata became the first Japanese to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. However, he has fallen out of the English-reading public's attention since then.


Martin Holman
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Comments [5]

Vic from !

One of my favorite works by Kawabata
(to understand the man) is his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, JAPAN THE BEAUTIFUL & MYSELF...

the nighttime air has already become still. The singing insects of late summer have all just died or buried themselves away. Silence now in the trees & brush , & in the wetlands beyond my yard. Again, until the cicadas return, I am left with a droning noise in my ears which is mine alone...

Oct. 02 2010 08:49 PM
Sarah from Park Slope, Brooklyn

Thanks, Leonard, for covering him in this series. I *love* Kawabata. Despite having taken a few Japanese lit classes in college, I somehow hadn't discovered him until recently. Oh, well, probably wouldn't have appreciated his stillness at age 20!

Aug. 11 2010 02:09 PM
Andy from Brooklyn

I bought _Palm of the Hand Stories_ when it was recommended to me. It was the first I read of Yasunari Kawabata, but I didn't much enjoy it. I loved _Snow Country._ I think it's a bad idea to recommend super-short stories as an introduction to an author, especially one who wrote such great novels.

Aug. 11 2010 12:57 PM
Theo Coulombe from Brooklyn

I've read Kawabata, snow country was beautiful as well as a thousand cranes... He seamed more humanistic than Mishima who I also like but enjoyed in a different way. I don't think I understood either until I spent some time in Japan and observed a kind of subtle struggle many of my friends there seem to accept day to day.

Aug. 11 2010 12:56 PM
Daniel from Munich

I think it's interesting that Kawabata won the Nobel Prize, but it seems most people come upon him through reading Mishima.

Aug. 11 2010 12:46 PM

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