The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea

By Yukio Mishima, John Nathan (translator),

Book cover of The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea

Book description

A band of savage 13-year-old boys reject the adult world as illusory, hypocritical, and sentimental, and train themselves in a brutal callousness they call 'objectivity'. When the mother of one of them begins an affair with a ship's officer, he and his friends idealise the man at first; but it…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Nietzsche’s greatest admirers often distort his views. Mishima is no exception. Considering his nationalism, militarism, and ritualistic suicide, it’s little surprise he endorses the popular misconception of Nietzsche as a champion of egoism and power. 

In this fascinating, disturbing story, adolescent boys create a club devoted to an amoral, pseudo-Nietzschean ideal. When they encounter a mysterious sailor, they worship him as a living embodiment of their values until he defies the image they’ve created. 

Mishima misinterprets Nietzsche but in a critically illuminating way. The boys’ ultimate reaction to their disappointing demi-god proves their hypocrisy, revealing that they idolize precisely the…

This is a great novel about the romance of drifting and the danger (and perhaps also the necessity) of trying to bring your drifting to an end. The story "The Hate Room" in this collection is partly an homage to Mishima's delicate balance of beauty and brutality, as well as my own time in Japan (although it was nothing like that of the characters in the story!).

Kanazawa

By David Joiner,

Book cover of Kanazawa

David Joiner Author Of Kanazawa

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

My book recommendations reflect an abiding passion for Japanese literature, which has unquestionably influenced my own writing. My latest literary interest involves Japanese poetry—I’ve recently started a project that combines haiku and prose narration to describe my experiences as a part-time resident in a 1300-year-old Japanese hot spring town that Bashō helped make famous in The Narrow Road to the Deep North. But as a writer, my main focus remains novels. In late 2023 the second in a planned series of novels set in Ishikawa prefecture will be published. I currently live in Kanazawa, but have also been lucky to call Sapporo, Akita, Tokyo, and Fukui home at different times.

David's book list on Japanese settings not named Tokyo or Kyoto

What is my book about?

Emmitt’s plans collapse when his wife, Mirai, suddenly backs out of purchasing their dream home. Disappointed, he’s surprised to discover her subtle pursuit of a life and career in Tokyo.

In his search for a meaningful life in Japan, and after quitting his job, he finds himself helping his mother-in-law translate Kanazawa’s most famous author, Izumi Kyoka, into English. He becomes drawn into the mysterious death of a friend of Mirai’s parents, leading him and his father-in-law to climb the mountain where the man died. There, he learns the somber truth and discovers what the future holds for him and his wife.

Packed with subtle literary allusion and closely observed nuance, Kanazawa reflects the mood of Japanese fiction in a fresh, modern incarnation.

Kanazawa

By David Joiner,

What is this book about?

In Kanazawa, the first literary novel in English to be set in this storied Japanese city, Emmitt's future plans collapse when his wife, Mirai, suddenly backs out of negotiations to purchase their dream home. Disappointed, he's surprised to discover Mirai's subtle pursuit of a life and career in Tokyo, a city he dislikes.

Harmony is further disrupted when Emmitt's search for a more meaningful life in Japan leads him to quit an unsatisfying job at a local university. In the fallout, he finds himself helping his mother-in-law translate Kanazawa's most famous author, Izumi Kyoka, into English.

While continually resisting Mirai's…


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