Must-Read Books on Modern Japanese Fiction

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Modern Japanese fiction books are becoming widely popular worldwide as Japanese authors are now being recognised for their unique way of writing. Below is a list of books that we highly recommend you read to get you started in the world of modern Japanese fiction.


Earthlings is written by Sayaka Murata, known for her successful novel called Convenience Store Woman. Earthlings start with Natsuki and Yuu’s childhood story, where they believe they are either an alien or a witch. Natsuki and Yuu are close cousins who spent a lot of time together during their childhood years. As the story moves forward to their adult life, Natsuki wishes to keep her promise to Yuu by reuniting in the Nagano mountains. Deeper into the story, what seems like a magical tale at first turns out to be a twisted story about mental illness and much more.

Banana Yoshimoto

The story is based on different scenarios about love, misfortunes and the importance of the kitchen in people’s lives. The main character is called Mikage, who is an orphan raised by her grandmother. When Mikage’s grandmother passed away, her friend Yoichi and his mother decided to take Mikage in as one of their family. As Mikage starts her life with a new family, she faces new challenges and more losses along the way.

The Lonesome Bodybuilder

Based on eleven short stories written by Yukiko Motoya and Asa Yoneda. Each story is a blend of real-life scenarios mixed with bizarre imagination and fantasies. It’s an excellent read for anyone looking for something eccentric that’s filled with reality and fantasies. One of the stories revolves around a housewife whom one day decided to practise bodybuilding. Despite the significant changes to her appearance, the people around her never noticed the changes.

A Tale for The Time Being

It starts with the story of Nao, a sixteen-year-old school teenager who is going through hardships in her life, including bullying and loneliness. Nao could only see one way out by ending her life. Before she leaves, she decided to document the life of her great grandmother, who lived as a Buddhist nun. 

The other side of the story is about Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island. One day, Ruth discovers a hello kitty lunchbox ashore. As she opens this mysterious box, she finds Naos diary, where both Ruth and Nao’s story collides.

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