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Kodansha International, 2005 - Fiction - 172 pages
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Botchan, is a hilarious tale about a young man's rebellion against "the system" in a country school. It is a classic in Japan and has occupied a position of great importance in the canon of Japanese literature, one vaguely analogous to Huckleberry Finn or The Catcher in the Rye in American culture. The setting is Japan's deep south, where the author himself spent four years teaching English in a middle school. Into this conservative world, with its social proprieties and established pecking order, breezes Botchan, down from the big city, with scant respect for either his elders or his noisy young charges. The result is a chain of collisions large and small.

Most of the story occurs in summer, against the drone of cicadas and the sting of mosquitoes, and in every way this is a summer book-light, sunny, and fun to read. Here, in a lively new translation, Botchan should continue to entertain even those who have never been near the sunlit island on which these calamitous episodes take place.

In this third English translation, J. Cohen captures the fluid, oral quality and feisty, sometimes brusque tone of the Japanese original.

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Published in 1906, this comic novel remains popular in Soseki's native Japan. A precursor to the rebellious school youth works popularized by Salinger and others, it follows a city teacher who ... Read full review

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About the author (2005)

NATSUME SOSEKI (1867-1916) is a major figure in modern Japanese literature, yet is known for his fierce independence from the literary establishment. No other writer of his generation wrote with more acerbic wit about the age he lived in. He is the author of numerous books, many that have been translated into English.

J. COHN is an Associate Professor of Japanese at The University of Hawaii at Manoa. He is the author of Studies in the Comic Spirit in Modern Japanese Fiction (Harvard University Asia Center, 1998).

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