Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Showcase An I-Novel by Minae Mizumura A Columbia University Press release

Today I'm featuring another incredible release from Columbia University Press once you read all about it I know you'll want your own copy. Mine is high on my TBR shelf.

ISBN-13: 9780231192132
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Release Date: 3-2-2021
Length: 344pp
Buy It: Publisher/Amazon/B&N/IndieBound



Minae Mizumura’s An I-Novel is a semi-autobiographical work that takes place over the course of a single day in the 1980s. Minae is a Japanese expatriate graduate student who has lived in the United States for two decades but turned her back on the English language and American culture. After a phone call from her older sister reminds her that it is the twentieth anniversary of their family’s arrival in New York, she spends the day reflecting in solitude and over the phone with her sister about their life in the United States, trying to break the news that she has decided to go back to Japan and become a writer in her mother tongue.

Published in 1995, this formally daring novel radically broke with Japanese literary tradition. It liberally incorporated English words and phrases, and the entire text was printed horizontally, to be read from left to right, rather than vertically and from right to left. In a luminous meditation on how a person becomes a writer, Mizumura transforms the “I-novel,” a Japanese confessional genre that toys with fictionalization. An I-Novel tells the story of two sisters while taking up urgent questions of identity, race, and language. Above all, it considers what it means to write in the era of the hegemony of English—and what it means to be a writer of Japanese in particular. Juliet Winters Carpenter masterfully renders a novel that once appeared untranslatable into English.



In Minae Mizumura’s novel, multiple languages and literatures mediate an expatriate girlhood’s dislocations of nationality, race, class, and gender. In the process, the work upends the assumptions of the I-novel, a genre thought to provide unmediated access to its male, Japanese author. The resulting observations are unsparing, sharply ironic and often very funny.Ken Ito, author of An Age of Melodrama: Family, Gender, and Social Hierarchy in the Turn-of-the-Century Japanese Novel
At its heart, An I-Novel is a deep meditation on the writer’s internal life, on straddling cultures and wanting to be at once authentic and original. Exploding the conventions of a long-established literary form, Minae Mizumura’s novel is a landmark in contemporary Japanese literature, finally brought to English-language readers by Juliet Winters Carpenter’s titanic feat of translation.Tash Aw, author of We, the Survivors
Mizumura's writing is urgent yet thorough...her prose is controlled and dense as poetry.Ann Bauer, Washington Post
[R]eaders...will find in Mizumura a fascinating example of how a writer can be at the same time imaginatively cosmopolitan and linguistically rooted.Adam Kirsch, New York Review of Books
A thoughtful meditation on belonging, language, and identity politics, An I-Novel is a must-read.Reading Under the Olive Tree
An I-Novel is an intriguing, nuanced portrait of a family in flux, and of a young woman finding her creative center between two worlds.Foreword Reviews, Starred Review
A genre-defying meditation on emigration, language, and race . . . a brilliant document that seems, if anything, more relevant today than upon its original publication. Mizumura’s work is deeply insightful and painstaking but never precious.Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
[An I-Novel's] yearning for equality and belonging should universally resonate with readers.Japan Times
Minae Mizumura masterfully transforms the conventions of the traditional I-novel in a nuanced confessional exploring race, identity and nationality.Paperback Paris
A fascinating literary experiment, but also a fascinating exploration of identity, place, language, and self . . . An I-Novel is a very fine novel of the experience of growing up between (more so than in) two cultures - cultures which were, on top of it, much more markedly different at that time - and of trying to find one's place, in every respect.
About the author:
Minae Mizumura
is one of Japan’s most respected novelists, acclaimed for her audacious experimentation and skillful storytelling. Three of her books, all of which won major literary awards in Japan, have been translated into English, all by Juliet Winters Carpenter: A True Novel (2013), The Fall of Language in the Age of English (Columbia, 2014; cotranslated with Mari Yoshihara), and Inheritance from Mother (2017).

Juliet Winters Carpenter is a prolific translator of Japanese literature. She received the Japan–U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature in 1980 for Abe Kobo’s Secret Rendezvous and in 2014 for Mizumura’s A True Novel.

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