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About Sam Bett
Writer of fiction and essays and Japanese translator, specializing in literary fiction, fashion and the arts.
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Books By Sam Bett
A BEST BOOK OF 2020
TIME Magazine・The New York Times・Book Riot
The story of three women by a writer hailed by Haruki Murakami as Japan’s most important contemporary novelist, WINNER OF THE AKUTAGAWA PRIZE.
On a sweltering summer day, Makiko travels from Osaka to Tokyo, where her sister Natsu lives. She is in the company of her daughter, Midoriko, who has lately grown silent, finding herself unable to voice the vague yet overwhelming pressures associated with adolescence. The story of these three women reunited in a working-class neighborhood of Tokyo is told through the gaze of Natsu—thirty years old, an aspiring writer, haunted by hardships endured in her youth. Over the course of their few days together in the capital, Midoriko’s silence will prove a catalyst for each woman to confront her fears and family secrets.
On yet another blistering summer’s day eight years later, Natsu, during a journey back to her native city, struggles with her own indeterminate identity as she confronts anxieties about growing old alone and childless.
One of Japan’s most important and best-selling writers, Mieko Kawakami mixes stylistic inventiveness, wry humor, and riveting emotional depth to tell a story of contemporary womanhood in Japan. Breasts and Eggs recounts the intimate journeys of three women on the path to finding peace and futures they can call their own.
“Original and deeply moving…This book is a gift.”—Laura van den Berg
From the bestselling author of Breasts and Eggs, a sharp and illuminating novel about the impact of violence and the power of solidarity.
Tormented by his peers because of his lazy eye, Kawakami’s protagonist suffers in silence. His only respite comes thanks to his friendship with a girl who is also the victim of relentless teasing. But what is the nature of a friendship if your shared bond is terror?
Unflinching yet tender, intimate and multi-layered, Heaven is yet another dazzling testament to Kawakami’s uncontainable talent.
“An argument in favor of meaning, of beauty, of life.” —The New York Times Book Review
“If you enjoyed Mieko Kawakami’s brilliant Breasts and Eggs, you’re certain to be astonished by her latest novel exploring violence and bullying with fierce, feminist and damning candor.” —Ms. Magazine
“This is the real magic of Heaven, which shows us how to think about morality as an ongoing, dramatic activity. It can be maddening and ruinous and isolating. But it can also be shared, enlivened . . . and momentarily redeemed through unheroic acts of solidarity.” —The New Yorker
“Quietly devastating.” —TIME Magazine
“Keen psychological insight, brilliant sensitivity, and compassionate understanding.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Raw and eloquent. . . . An unexpected classic.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“An incredible literary talent.” —Booklist, starred review
“Kawakami writes with jagged, visceral beauty.” —Oprah Daily
“Kawakami never lets us settle comfortably, which is a testament to her storytelling power.” —Los Angeles Review of Books
“One of Japan’s brightest stars.” —Japan Times
FINALIST for the 2022 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction
A BEST BOOK OF 2022
Oprah Daily・TIME Magazine・Washington Post・Publishers Weekly・Lit Hub
Bestselling author of Breasts and Eggs Mieko Kawakami invites readers back into her immediately recognizable fictional world with this new, extraordinary novel and demonstrates yet again why she is one of today’s most uncategorizable, insightful, and talented novelists.
Fuyuko Irie is a freelance copy editor in her mid-thirties. Working and living alone in a city where it is not easy to form new relationships, she has little regular contact with anyone other than her editor, Hijiri, a woman of the same age but with a very different disposition. When Fuyuko stops one day on a Tokyo street and notices her reflection in a storefront window, what she sees is a drab, awkward, and spiritless woman who has lacked the strength to change her life and decides to do something about it.
As the long overdue change occurs, however, painful episodes from Fuyuko’s past surface and her behavior slips further and further beyond the pale. All the Lovers in the Night is acute and insightful, entertaining and engaging; it will make readers laugh, and it will make them cry, but it will also remind them, as only the best books do, that sometimes the pain is worth it.
“In the skilled hands of Bett and Boyd, Kawakami’s prose is instantly recognizable—immediate, incisive, and unfailingly honest.”—Katie Kitamura, Entertainment Weekly (A Most Anticipated Book of 2022)
Turn this page, and you may forfeit your entire life.
With My Annihilation, Fuminori Nakamura, master of literary noir, has constructed a puzzle box of a narrative in the form of a confessional diary that implicates its reader in a heinous crime.
Delving relentlessly into the darkest corners of human consciousness, My Annihilation interrogates the unspeakable thoughts all humans share that can be monstrous when brought to life, revealing with disturbing honesty the psychological motives of a killer.
The first English language publication of the work of Izumi Suzuki, a legend of Japanese science fiction and a countercultural icon
At turns nonchalantly hip and charmingly deranged, Suzuki's singular slant on speculative fiction would be echoed in countless later works, from Margaret Atwood and Harumi Murakami, to Black Mirror and Ex Machina. In these darkly playful and punky stories, the fantastical elements are always earthed by the universal pettiness of strife between the sexes, and the gritty reality of life on the lower rungs, whatever planet that ladder might be on.
Translated by Polly Barton, Sam Bett, David Boyd, Daniel Joseph, Aiko Masubuchi, and Helen O'Horan.
Satoru Iwata was the global president and CEO of Nintendo and a gifted programmer who played a key role in the creation of many of the world’s best-known games. He led the production of innovative platforms such as the Nintendo DS and the Wii, and laid the groundwork for the development of the wildly successful Pokémon Go game and the Nintendo Switch. Known for his analytical and imaginative mind, but even more for his humility and people-first approach to leadership, Satoru Iwata was beloved by game fans and developers worldwide.
In this motivational collection, Satoru Iwata addresses diverse subjects such as locating bottlenecks, how success breeds resistance to change, and why programmers should never say no. Drawn from the “Iwata Asks” series of interviews with key contributors to Nintendo games and hardware, and featuring conversations with renowned Mario franchise creator Shigeru Miyamoto and creator of EarthBound Shigesato Itoi, Ask Iwata offers game fans and business leaders an insight into the leadership, development, and design philosophies of one of the most beloved figures in gaming history.
For the first time in English, Osamu Dazai’s hilariously comic and deeply moving prequel to No Longer Human
The Flowers of Buffoonery opens in a seaside sanitarium where Yozo Oba—the narrator of No Longer Human at a younger age—is being kept after a failed suicide attempt. While he is convalescing, his friends and family visit him, and other patients and nurses drift in and out of his room. Against this dispiriting backdrop, everyone tries to maintain a lighthearted, even clownish atmosphere: playing cards, smoking cigarettes, vying for attention, cracking jokes, and trying to make each other laugh.
While No Longer Human delves into the darkest corners of human consciousness, The Flowers of Buffoonery pokes fun at these same emotions: the follies and hardships of youth, of love, and of self-hatred and depression. A glimpse into the lives of a group of outsiders in prewar Japan, The Flowers of Buffoonery is a darkly humorous and fresh addition to Osamu Dazai’s masterful and intoxicating oeuvre.
Two detectives. Two identical women. One dead body— then two, then three, then four. All knotted up in Japan’s underground BDSM scene and kinbaku, a form of rope bondage which bears a complex cultural history of spirituality, torture, cleansing, and sacrifice.
As Togashi, a junior member of the police force, investigates the murder of a kinbaku instructor, he finds himself unable to resist his own private transgressive desires. In contrast, Togashi’s Sherlock Holmesian colleague Hayama is morally upright to a fault, with a stalwart commitment to the truth and nearly superhuman powers of deduction. When Hayama notices a dangerous measure of darkness within Togashi, he embarks on a parallel investigation, which soon spirals out of control.
Unflinching in its flayed-raw treatment of identity, violence, sexuality, power, the occult, and the divine, The Rope Artist is both viscerally painful and unexpectedly hopeful—a genre homage that shines a light on the most dangerous elements of the human psyche.
For the first time in English, a glittering novella about stardom from “one of the greatest avant-garde Japanese writers of the twentieth century” (Judith Thurman, The New Yorker)
Winner of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature
All eyes are on Rikio. And he likes it, mostly. His fans cheer, screaming and yelling to attract his attention—they would kill for a moment alone with him. Finally the director sets up the shot, the camera begins to roll, someone yells “action”; Rikio, for a moment, transforms into another being, a hardened young yakuza, but as soon as the shot is finished, he slumps back into his own anxieties and obsessions. Being a star, constantly performing, being watched and scrutinized as if under a microscope, is often a drag. But so is life. Written shortly after Yukio Mishima himself had acted in the film “Afraid to Die,” this novella is a rich and unflinching psychological portrait of a celebrity coming apart at the seams. With exquisite, vivid prose, Star begs the question: is there any escape from how we are seen by others?