Over at the All the Anime blog, I review Ian Buruma’s snapshot of the literary scene in 1970s Japan: A Tokyo Romance.
“Buruma’s Tokyo tales are a wonderful collage of ghastly poseurs and jocular racists, avant-garde theatrical performances, peep shows and strip clubs, forgotten circus celebrities and lost districts, which he wanders with the same melancholy interest as his literary hero Kafu Nagai. It is a lurid, lost Tokyo before the transforming influences of social media or wi-fi, where one must find books by reaching out and picking them up, and make appointments by speaking to human beings. It is also a world almost as insular as the Shogun’s Japan. Few Japanese, Buruma notes, had the means to leave the country, turning its capital into a side-show of theme-park mockeries of the Other and Far Away. ‘There was something theatrical, even hallucinatory about the cityscape itself, where nothing was understated; representations of products, places, entertainments, restaurants, fashion and so on were everywhere screaming for attention.'”