An I-Novel

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Product Details
Columbia University Press
Publish Date
5.5 X 8.4 X 0.8 inches | 0.85 pounds
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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.
[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
Mizumura's writing is urgent yet thorough...her prose is controlled and dense as poetry.--Ann Bauer, Washington Post
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
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.--Complete Review
In an age of so many books about identity, An I-Novel stands out for the tough questions it poses. It's not difficult to read, since Mizumura is a fluent and entertaining writer . . . Mizumura's books reclaim the particularity, the untranslatability, of her own language. And they do so without the slightest whiff of nationalism.--New York Times Book Review
A tour de force by translator Juliet Winters Carpenter of one of Japan's most exciting writers.--Chicago Review of Books
It has been gratifying, moving even, to read a work by a writer of such maturity and sensitivity. Mizumura creates memorable characters who have real depth. Juliet Carpenter's translation conveys the novel's qualities with graceful power. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed--and marveled at--a novel so richly insightful and a translation so elegant and readable.--Van C. Gessel, translator of Endō Shūsaku
A thoughtful reflection on language and culture . . . Mizumura's distinction between her 'Japanese-language self' (her 'real self') and her 'English-language self' isn't a comfortable one. Her dual identity makes her a keen critic of two very different cultures that are, in some ways, inseparable.--Asian Review of Books
This [is a] beautiful new translation of An I-Novel, a layered, pitch-perfect novel about a Japanese woman who feels out of time and place.--Thornfield Hall Blog
You can read An I-Novel as a great example of the Japanese I-Novel trend in literature. You can read it as a feminist literary landmark, or to inspire a conversation on language and its role in bridging the differences that distance forces upon people who love each other. Or you can just read it for the gorgeous prose, and it would be more than enough.--New York Journal of Books
An I-Novel stands out as a beautifully written book. It's wonderfully structured, the story dipping in and out of memory and the cold day in the apartment, and the many black-and-white photos of buildings, trees and snow only enhance the effect. It all seems effortless, yet it's obviously anything but, and the reading experience is very similar to that of A True Novel, making this a book it would be very easy to binge on . . . An I-Novel is an excellent, ambitious piece of autofiction.--Tony's Reading List