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Longing and Other Stories

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"And so his heart was a prisoner to his parents; but the more aware he was of the depth of their bonds, the more he cursed and feared them" (58).

This collection of three stories from Jun'ichirõ Tanizaki is somewhat hard to review or rate. Translations are always tricky. Even more so when the source material isn't contemporary (though really, not even one hundred years have passed since the stories' original publication). There were times when I found the prose a little stiff, but this collection is very accessible.

"When he came face to face with another person, the wonders that swirled deep inside his head lost their radiance, leaving only the superficial, frivolous, dishonest, and lewd aspects to flourish" (77).

I found the second story to be the strongest. Tanizaki isn't afraid to explore the darker aspects of his characters—and maybe, by extension, himself—but it never gets deep enough to alienate readers. A part of me wished the rest of the included stories had been more like this one, but the other understands the intent. I don't know if this would count as a "spoiler," but these three stories were chosen deliberately. There's a reason why they're together. I respect that decision.

As I read, I wished there could have been more footnotes. The first has one, and the second has a few more, if I'm remembering correctly. I know not everyone likes footnotes, but I definitely do. However, there is a great Translators' Afterword after the stories. I really enjoyed reading through it and, in a way, wish that had taken up more of the book.

Overall, I found this to be a good introduction to Tanizaki. I'm very grateful to have been able to read it.

**Thank you to NetGalley for access to this title.**
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More of a 3.5 for me**

First and foremost, let me say that I generally have a hard time with short stories just because I personally need more time with the characters/stories to feel anything other than "meh" for them, so the fact that this is getting higher than a 2 stars is promising for those who do enjoy short stories, as well as for me in terms of this author and their writing. 

I think if you have any interest at all in Japanese culture and how it attempts to be enmeshed with Western culture, you will enjoy this book, especially, obviously, if you enjoy short stories. The writing is very cerebral and poetic, I would say, and the author takes care to not spell things out for you too much, which is an issue I commonly find with short stories. Definitely recommend and look forward to picking out a copy for myself.
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Longing and other stories

Author jun'ichirō Tanizaki

Thank you, NetGalley for this complimentary book in exchange for an honest review.

I had always wanted to read Tanizaki's 
"The Makioka Sisters" but Longing and other stories seemed to be much shorter so picked up this one instead.
It's a dreamlike collection of three short stories which concentrates on the relationship between the mother and the son. 
Each story has a heartbreak though 
I loved the wonderfully descriptive vocabulary adopted here.

It was a real pleasure to engross oneself in Japanese literature.
I Will surely read his other works also. 

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What i do really love about this book is that there is kind of poetry in the way japanese authors write, even when you dont like a character you like the way the action is depicted... yes there is a kind of longing, of missing a person or a feeling in each of this stories. 

The stories connect in a way or the other with the supernatural, sometimes obvious and in others is the twist that give it in the end... but always the feeling that they give to the reader, is like the waves gently touching the beach, this is the kind of book that if i get too much in details of each story, would give spoilers and that is the one thing I dont want to do, because the surprise in the ride is what makes it so worth. 

There's a diference in the way japanese people think that makes their stories and characters so much diferent the ones in the occident and i love that difference since i was young, i remenber reading books from Yasunari Kawabata or Kenzaburo Oe and that was my first deep dive in japanese literature i wish for our young ones to have the same chance that i did, and congratulations for Paul McCarthy because mantaining the poetry sometimes can be lost on the translation, and i did feel that he love the japanese culture same way i do, haha and that really helps connection with the way the stories make way to us. 

i recieved a free ARC copy of this book from NetGalley and i am leaving this review voluntarely. 

for fellow reviewers of netgalley, keep in mind that this ARC is converted from pdf, has lots of flaws, and mishapes in the text, but the 3 stories even the second one that the main character is ...  well lets just say that i dont like him and i think even is mom has problems in loving him... the writting is gorgeous <3
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I really, really, really (!) wanted to enjoy this one but try as I might, I could not get into it.  I kept losing concentration, would re-read the same pages more than once without realising or abandon and move on to the next story.  

The only other Tanizaki I have read is A Man, Two Women and a Cat which was a very pleasant read!  Longing and Other Stories is in quite a different style and, having read the translators’ notes, I see it was written much earlier.  It certainly felt self-indulgent and, I’m afraid, boring! Let’s put it down to youth!  (I have The Makioka Sisters in my tbr and now feel a little nervous of it!)

I hope to come back to Longing and Other Stories at some point.  Perhaps after reading more of Tanizaki’s work it will make more sense.
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I majored in Japanese Literature in college so I was eager to read this translation of Tanizaki's work. I have read The Makioka Sisters and The Key and a few other translations many years ago. Reading these three stories rekindled my admiration for Tanizaki whose characters are presented in such great detail that we can feel them living amongst us. These are gritty stories and I enjoyed the settings and time period. The exploration of character is so intricate and descriptive that they could almost work as a textbook for an author trying to work on character depiction.
This work is also a good juxtaposition between the modern women writers of Japan that are currently in the limelight. I'd urge anyone interested in Japanese literature to give Tanizaki a try.
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I went into this blind unsure of what to expect, but was greatly surprised. Three short stories about the relationships between mothers and sons, all gripping and beautiful. The writing is like poetry. Beautiful descriptive and vivid. 

This is a unique read. Nothing I’ve ever come across before. It’s subtly moving and sad. 

People who enjoy “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry as children would like this collection. 

Thank you to Netgally and Columbia University Press for this arc in exchange for my honest review.
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"When I go out into the world, will I have to endure the same suffering and distress as my parents?"

Three short stories about mothers and sons were written by Junichiro Tanizaki, a Japanese author of the 20th century. 

Longing translated by Paul McCarthy
My favorite story is about a son looking for his lost mother on road in the moonlight. So a wonderful and touching story. It was like a poem, enjoyable read, very beautifully written and translated.

Sorrows of a Heretic translated by Anthony H. Chambers
hōzaburō is a university student living with his family. This was like his biography.

The Story of an Unhappy Mother is translated by Paul McCarthy
This was a story of an unhappy mother, who changed into a different person after her elder son’s marriage. The story is told by the younger son. He believed his brother killed his mother, and that it was his mother who killed his brother.

Many thank Columbia University Press and NetGalley for an ARC, I have given my honest review.
Pub Date 04 Jan 2022
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A wonderful new translation that is readable and yet maintains the mystical tone of Tanizaki's writing.
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This collection of three lenghty short stories focuses on the relationship between sons and their mothers: The first introduces us to a child longing for his mother, the second portrays a selfish teenager with a terminally ill sister and a desperate mother, and the third is the story of a newlywed, thus adding the role of mother-in-law to his mother's repertoire. I really enjoyed the subtle way in which the themes are explored and Tanizaki's elegant, slow-moving language that gives weight to decisive details.

The afterword explains how the stories correspond with the time they were written and set in, how Confucian thinking informs the narrators, and how some events relate to the author's own life - I won't spoil anything here, because going in blind will definitely alter the reading experience and allow you to shift perceptions after gathering more information.

A wonderful collection - I need to read more Tanizaki.
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This book was fun to read. Tanizaki's narration is unique and moves in a winding pattern through the lives of his characters. And I am glad that this translated edition exists, because if it didn't, I would be missing out on some very interesting stories.

All three stories in this collection are centred around familial ties and relationships (especially around ties between mother and son), but has varying perspectives about the same. Japanese culture, the influence Confucianism has on it and the struggle of the younger (modern) generation to overcome it are some themes that speak to the reader while perusing these stories.
The usual brokenness and abrupt ending to dialogues when a work is translated does not make an appearance in this edition, which definitely is a credit to the translators. I am extremely grateful for the Translator's Afterword too, since it enlightened me about Tanizaki's style and life.
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i’m surprised by this collection of short stories! i loved the translations – the writing was very good, lyrical without being purple-prose. the emotions and the message of each story were conveyed in a great way – i particularly enjoyed how longing, the title story, had this dreamlike quality to it. 

the second story, sorrows of a heretic, was the one that stood out most to me – in a weird way, since it might be the one i liked the least. the main character is such an unlikeable protagonist, but he’s so well written – so selfish and seemingly out-of-touch with reality. it’s definitely an interesting story. 

the third one, the story of an unhappy mother is somewhat of a borderline horror story, with such an unsatisfying ending. i liked it until that ending left me wanting more. the build-up was so interesting, the question of what’s the relationship this mother has with each of her kids and how this seemingly perfect family was actually rotten to the core. 

overall, an interesting read. i’ll definitely check out the author’s other works.
thank you to netgalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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Three short stories, quite different from each other, offer a perfect opportunity to get to know Tanizaki as a writer. 

The titular piece "Longing" captures an equally dream-like and muddy atmosphere, very lyrical and rich in imagery. Having said that it's probably my least favourite as the other two left a much greater impact on me. 

"The Story of an Unhappy Mother" felt a bit like an outlier in the sense that it felt like it centered more around a plot, however, it's still very much a study of a flawed family and their characters. I found the mother in this story very interesting. The story unravels bit by bit and holds a lot of soft intrigue. 

The second story "Sorrows of a Heretic" is undeniably my favourite and concerns a university student with questionable morals and decision-making. The character reads a little bit like a caricature, yet that doesn't mean it's out of touch with reality. It's also a portrait of a family under unfortunate circumstances. Crisp, refreshing and woeful.
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I wasn't expecting to love this book, but I was deeply drawn to it. 

When I was an undergraduate, our modern Japanese literature class had something horrible in store for everyone. There was Ōe Kenzaburō's "A Personal Matter", dealing with a man who was trying hard to kill his newborn son without getting blood on his hands, while drinking his life away; there was Yasunari Kawabata's "Sleeping Beauties", about a brothel where old, impotent men go to spend the night by the side of drugged women; there were more.

One by one, each of the students in that class has a breakdown. My breaking point was reached when reading Tanizaki's "The Children", which dealt with the emergence of sexuality and sexual sadism. It wasn't graphic, if I recall correctly. It was probably a good story. But it was a tough semester, and it was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back.

It's funny, because I've gone back to most of the authors on that list and it's become quite clear that Ōe Kenzaburō is the one I'm happiest without.

Tanizaki, though. I never dared read him again, until now.

The volume opens with <b>"Longing"</b>, the story of a young boy from an impoverished, formerly rich family. It's night, and the boy walks down a long road, counting telegraph poles. But even as he does so, it becomes apparent that there's a disconnect between a child's mind and the narrator's voice; the story is told by an adult remembering that night with delicacy, a fine eye for detail and a poet's spirit. 

There's something supernatural and slightly terrible about the child walking close to the seaside on a seemingly timeless journey, meeting two women: one, an unpleasant crone who shuns him, the other a beautiful young woman playing a samisen. It's an enchanting story, delightful, a bit terrifying, and very beautiful. 

The second story in the volume is <b>"Sorrows of a Heretic"</b>, and the tone is shockingly different. A young man, a student from a poor family, supported by richer relatives to remain in university, leads a dissolute life. He borrows money from friends to spend on geishas and other pleasures, he skips classes, drinks to escape his anxieties (becoming such an alcoholic that at one point he drinks the cooking sake). 

He's a rascal, thoughtless, careless, but as we get to know him, he becomes almost relatable in his fears. 

I thought I was reminded of Dostoevsky because I had him on my mind lately, but it turns out - I'm not the only one seeing the resemblance.

The third and final story of the volume is <b>"The Story of an Unhappy Mother"</b>. Another change of tone; and I'm more ambivalent towards this particular story.

The narrator is a younger brother, talking about his mother: a woman who is young at heart, full of life, yet terrified of death, and very proud of the regard her children show her. When the older brother wishes to marry, he has to 'trick' her into thinking she chose the bride. Everything seems to proceed happily until a seemingly harmless accident happens. The moral implications of that accident, however, lead to the long, slow mental torture and eventual death of both mother and older son.

The younger brother telling the story seems to be constantly apologizing on behalf of those involved in it. The blame cannot lie with the mother; it cannot lie with the older son. It's almost a tragedy in the ancient sense of the word, of a powerful collision between the forces of fate. It could not have been foreseen, but the younger son feels it might have been stopped if the younger children had put their foot down and been more sensible at just the right time.

<b>What really makes me round up the rating to 5 stars</b> is the afterword. First of all, I love that it's an afterword, as it discusses plot points and more. Tanizaki's stories really stand on their own and I loved them, and the afterword enhances that by throwing a new perspective over them: are they in any way based on Tanizaki's life? What are their influences? 

It draws attention to traditional elements, to the tension between older generations and newer generations in early 20th century Japan (that might not be evident to a Western reader), to Western ideas that permeated Tanizaki's work. It's the best type of afterword: non-intrusive, broadening interpretations rather than narrowing them down, informing without overwhelming. 

And the translations are simply lovely. My Japanese is, alas, not up to the task of even trying to read these stories in the original, but their rendition in English was beautiful and enchanting.

<i>Many thanks to Columbia University Press and NetGalley for offering an ARC in exchange for an honest review.</i>
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Junichiro Tanizaki does not shy away from anything and puts it all on the line in a beautiful way. The stories are at their center about the human condition as it relates to love and yearning.
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Pretty good stories here. I haven't read many Japanese stories, and I enjoyed these. I can see why the author is so well respected. I'm inspired to check out some other Japanese authors now. Recommended.

Thanks very much for the free ARC for review!!
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Three interesting stories of mother and son relations, all based on the live of the author, that show the strain a modernising society put on confucian morals
I have portrayed honestly and unreservedly, to the extent possible and justifiable, matters that struck my heart as fact s at the time. In this sense, this is my only confessional work. - Jun'ichirō Tanizaki about Sorrows of a Heretic, the longest story included in Longing and Other Stories

The bundle contains three distinct stories, with titular Longing kicking off the collection.
That voice - though it was less a voice than a profound silence - created a melancholy music that made the quietness of the night still more mysterious….
A boy lost in the dark pine woods after relocating from Tokyo ends up in an almost dreamlike voyage through the rural landscape. In terms of alienation it reminded me of Sylvia Plath her novella Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom. The narrator in no way feels childlike, a hint to quite an emotive tale in terms of environmental depiction. Quite uncanny.

Sorrows of a heretic
You were born with a defective spirit
An unlikeable main character who has lucid dreams and speaks unconsciously out loud, with a dying sister at home. The discussion and backstory of a gramophone at the start of the novel was rather excessive in my view. Then we have some lending gone wrong, and even more character flaws in the narrator, however his fellow students are not much better, only wanting to visit a grieving family because they think the sister of the deceased hot.

Egotistical, lazy, indulgent, unreliable - the main character is drawn by Tanizaki in an unflattering manner, beaten down by circumstances with no way out, but also at his core no true morality.
The ending is very sudden; apparently autobiographical, and a very unflinching character study

The story of an unhappy mother
Younger brother narrating a family’s tragedy, befallen to his mother and eldest brother.
Again a spoiled child character in the spotlight, this time a mother instead of a son.
Confucian morals maxed out, coming into the spotlight due to a freak boat incident.
I am sure Mother will go on living in my heart forever, uttered at the end of the story feels almost like a threat.

An interesting collection of uncanny, uncomfortable tales from a great Japanese writer.
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I had been meaning to read something by this author for a while so when I had the chance to review this book, I leaped at the opportunity. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.

Despite being written in different styles, all three stories drew me in. They were all beautifully written, excellently translated, and effectively portrayed emotions that can still be appreciated even now, a hundred years (give or take) after their original publications.  I really appreciate writing that can sweep you along regardless of what happens in the story and this was definitely one of those cases. In each story, I was never entirely sure where the plot was going, but I was content to let myself enjoy the language and the emotions that it carried.

I will say, though, that these stories are not for everyone. The protagonist in the second story "Sorrows of a Heretic" for example, is extremely unlikeable. I still enjoyed the story personally because, despite his flaws, the young man still struck me as someone with potential.  If he could have stopped being so self-centered he could have been a good person. This was enough to keep me engaged. I kept reading in the hope of seeing some redemption  (I even like to think there was a glimmer of that towards the end), but I can also see where this character would quickly get tiresome.

It also bears mentioning that the third story, "The Story of an Unhappy Mother," includes suicide. I would advise caution for anyone triggered by that.

Ultimately, I gave this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars. It's a short read that makes a big impact, but I think some knowledge of Tanizaki and the time he lived in would have increased my enjoyment.

  That's not to say I didn't enjoy the stories, I definitely did. However, I was undeniably viewing them from my 21st-century lens and while that has its own appeal, there were still times that I felt I was missing something. The afterword confirmed this by offering new details which would never have even occurred to me. I'd like to learn more on the subject and return for a second read. 

My thanks to NetGalley and Columbia University Press for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
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It was a real pleasure to me to read these amazing stories that deal with mother-son relationships. And how this kind of relationship can be different, so are the stories. But they will not leave anybody indifferent. Plus, it was great to immerse yourself in the Japanese culture and philosophy. The translator's afterword is a very important thing that can help everyone to get all the author's ideas and , maybe, reread the stories to acquire the different level of perception.
Many thanks to Netgalley and Columbia University Press for a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you Netgalley for the e - ARC in exchange for an honest review!

This is one of the most valuable pieces of translated fiction available to us and I'm so glad that I have had the chance to read it! Jun'ichirō Tanizaki puts mother-son relationships under a microscope over the span of three poignant short stories. I am awed by how connected I felt to the characters and how vividly the themes of insecurity and self-criticism were touched upon in this book. Absolutely loved all three of them, but The Story Of An Unhappy Mother is my personal favorite!

[my rating: 4.5/5]
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