Cover Image: MONKEY New Writing from Japan

MONKEY New Writing from Japan

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Member Reviews

I love that this exists! It's such a great way to get exposure to new authors and existing favorites, as well as some classic pieces that I would not have necessarily been exposed to on my own. I really enjoyed most of the contributions and even the ones I wouldn't have considered to be hits for me, I could tell the author was trying out something interesting. I'm keeping this short and mostly about the collection as a whole because I'm not really sure how to best review a collection of works from a bunch of different creators, but overall, if you're a short story person or interested in contemporary Japanese fiction, you're going to find something to love in this anthology.

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Yes. This is what I love on Japanese literature! I enjoyed this collection on music very much—each of the stories have a different vibe and I'm looking forward to reading more of this!

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This is the fourth volume of the Monkey literary magazine, this issue focusing on the theme of music.
It includes a diversity of content from Haiku poetry, a Noh play, short stories to interviews and features
big names such as Mieko Kawakami, Hiromi Kawakami, Haruki Murakami
I particularly enjoyed the short stories, which are such a great way to help readers discover new authors and read new works by familiar authors.
My favourite story in this issue is the first one, “Yoshiwara dreaming” by Hiromi Kawakami (an extract from her upcoming novel “The third love” out in English translation in June 2024). It is an atmospheric tale of a woman dreaming of her past life.
I also really appreciated the notes and comments from the translators, the unsung heroes who make it possible for us to access these works. Their insight gave me a new appreciation for their work.

Overall, I hugely recommend this magazine to anyone with a passion for Japanese literature, or wishing to sample some of these great authors.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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A lively collection of short stories, each set upon the theme of music and its role in our lives and histories. These stories are vibrant, coming from exciting new voices in Japanese fiction, many of whom we in the West may not have been aware of prior.

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This is such an outstanding collection of some of the most unique, innovative fiction coming out of modern Japan. With a diverse range of authors, and a collection of stories surrounding the theme of Music, this book is the perfect gift for anyone interested in Japanese literature or new experimental short stories. Many of these translations are brand new, never seen before, adding more to just how much I enjoyed this collection. I’d recommend to everyone!

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This review was made possible via an ARC through NetGalley

MONKEY New Writing from Japan vol 4 Music is a collection of poetry, art, a Noh play, short stories and excerpts from novels from authors in Japan. The back includes a word from nine of the translators of who worked on this volume, answering what part music plays in translation.

My favorite piece was the short story Transformers: Pianos by Fujino Kaori and translated by Lauren Taylor. It’s strange and weird and makes excellent use of the POV.

The haiku poems came with the original Japanese as well as the translation, so readers studying Japanese could spend time creating their own translations of the poems as a fun exercise or to practice their translation skills.

I would recommend this to readers looking to sample the Japanese literary scene without committing to a full novel and readers looking to support works in translation.

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I'm a huge fan of Japanese literature and culture and I really enjoyed this collection of translated poetry and prose.
There was a theme, but the pieces had a lot of variety and were really interesting. Some of my favorite writers were here and I learned about more.
Thanks to NetGalley for letting me read this

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Monkey’s yearly magazine is fast becoming essential reading for anyone with an interest in Japanese writing in English-language translation: from prose to poetry to drama. As with previous issues, this is beautifully produced with incredible attention to detail displayed in the layout and use of colour, and it features an excellent array of mouth-watering illustrations. The theme for this one is music which is traced across a variety of writings.

Highlights include: a tantalising extract from Hiromi Kawakami’s forthcoming novel <i>The Third Love;</i> Haruki Murakami’s “Zombie” an unsettling tale of misogyny and toxic masculinity; a gently surreal story from Aoko Matsuda translated by Polly Barton; and Hiroko Oyamada’s striking “Flight”. There’s a selection of poetry that includes work by Makoto Takaynagi and a long prose poem from Mieko Kawakami. There’s also a new translation of a piece by classic, short story writer Ichiyō Higuchi and fiction from the 1920s by experimental novelist Taruho Inagaki which reads like absurd, flash fiction.

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I love translated fiction, even more stories from Japan. The writing is beautiful, as expected. It’s short, so it’s a quick read. You can find a variety of writing, so I think there might be something for everyone.

Before I requested this, I had no idea that MONKEY was a literary magazine, and that it has other volumes. I’m going to keep a look out for other/future volumes!

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I thought this was a particularly nice collection for the reader as it included a huge range of work be it written work or visual art. I also appreciated the theme of music which tied it all together but without being overly restrictive. I was happy to see a piece by Higuchi Ichiyo along with more modern writers. I think this issue is the sort of work one would keep by one's bedside and choose a piece to read daily. It's a lot to absorb if you try and read straight through it, so that would be my advice to readers--to savor each piece individually.

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this writing. I look forward to more.

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Translation is a fascinating thing, and I think it’s often framed as a necessary evil—“this is the only way we can get this work of art to a wider audience.”

As such, I always appreciate when it’s instead celebrated, and I think this edition of MONKEY does just that. Truthfully, I’ve never seen anything quite like this, and I’m glad NetGalley provided an opportunity for me to learn of its existence.

I especially enjoyed Kyōhei Sakaguchi’s “Listen for the Perfume,” and I’m amazed at how effectively Sam Malissa preserved a noise-driven momentum throughout the piece. I also loved the playful "Eleven One-Second Stories," and I'd be curious to see more of those translated.

All in all, this feels like a labor of love at every step, and it shows throughout every piece and every editorial decision. For example, it’s a small thing, but the closing section in which translators discuss the role of music in their work was really engaging and insightful. It’s the type of thing that makes my linguistics-driven heart go crazy.

This is definitely something I would love to have a paper copy of to revisit.

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I absolutely love Japanese literature and jumped at the opportunity to read this as it contained work from some of my favourite authors! I did really enjoy a few of the pieces in this collection (Yoshiwara Dreaming and Flight were stand out pieces for me) and the artwork was lovely, but overall it wasn't for me. Possibly because I'm not a huge fan of poetry, especially in translation, which this collection was very heavy on in my opinion. With that being said I feel like this is a broad collection, that probably has something for everyone in it! 2.5/5

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I’ve always appreciated the effort that has been put into the Monkey series; it’s one of the many wonderful ways to discover and absorb Japanese writing and literature.

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Beautiful, inspiring, tantalizing.

I deeply enjoyed this collection, it definitely whetted my appetite for more!

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I always look forward to the new issue of 'Monkey'. I felt that the the previous one didn't quite hit the mark, but volume 4 (of the new version) and its theme of Music certainly kept me happy.

Highlights in this edition for me included: an excerpt from 'The Third Love', Hiromi Kawakami's 2020 novel and poetry from Mieko Kawakami, but there is lots to entertain a variety of readers. And, as ever, there are some gorgeous illustrations sprinkled throughout.

An important and valued addition every year to Japanese new writing, this is always worth supporting.

(With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this title.)

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This edition of Monkey contains a large number of experimental pieces of writing, particularly poetry, which isn’t to my taste. The best bits of this edition are some of the vignettes & illustrations:
- The Yoshikawa dreaming excerpt made me want to read more of the novel to find out what happens next
- Oyamada’s short story Flight was a good read
- Murakami’s short story is about a man berating his girlfriend for supposedly being ugly. Why anyone thought such misogyny should see the light of day, let alone be translated, beats me
- Fujino’s story about transforming pianos was an interesting premise
- I loved the images for Kitamura’s Five Parallel Lines
- Osaki’s Cricket Girl charmingly channels a Tristram Shandy vibe in that our narrator keeps going on tangents which derail the actual story

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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156 pages.

Expected publication date: Nov 14, 2023 (Stone Bridge Press)


This is the fourth volume of this excellent anthology of Japanese writing, this time with a musical theme. Although MONKEY has been consistently excellent, with a beautiful layout, Volume Four shows much more polish than previous ones, and is a particular pleasure to read.

Some authors include Aoko Matsuda, Mieko Kawakami, Haruki Murakami, and Hiromi Kawakami. There are also a few non-Japanese writers, and in-between the fiction and poetry you’ll find beautifully-executed artwork by Satoshi Kitamura.

As always, a feast for the eyes and mind. Thank you to Stone Bridge Press and to NetGalley for access.

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This is the fourth volume in a series of translated Japanese short creative writing (mostly poems and short stories.) The series (and this edition, in particular) features some of the best-known Japanese authors (e.g. Haruki Murakami and Meiko Kawakami.) Beyond a few major pieces at the beginning, this edition has a theme of music that runs through it.

Among my favorite pieces were: the novel excerpt "Yoshiwara Dreaming" about a young girl who is sold into the redlight district and becomes a helper in a brothel; "Transformer: Pianos" which is a work of surrealist fiction; "The Zombie" is Haruki Murakami's fresh take on the zombie story; I also enjoyed many of the inclusions in the section entitled "Eight Modern Haiku Poets on Music."

It's a varied collection of writings. Not only does it include all forms of creative writing -- prose and poetic -- but the broad selection of writers and translators ensure that there is a diversity of styles and genres. That said, there isn't a great diversity in quality level. It's all strong writing, though some works will appeal to any give reader more than others. There's something for everyone.

I'd highly recommend this volume for readers of literature in translation.

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Wonderful magazine, great selection of writings from a variety of authors. I love Japanese literature, so this was fantastic for me. I will be recommending this and the previous volumes to other readers.

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I feel like I got insight into Japanese culture whilst I was reading these stories. Beautifully written and though provoking.

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