With such a piddling amount of Japanese fiction finding its way into English translation each year, you learn to make the most of what you can get. So when this year’s Tokyo International Literary Festival marked the launch of not one, but two compendia of Japan-related writing, it felt like an embarrassment of riches. In addition to the latest issue of “Monkey Business,” the annual journal edited by veteran translators Motoyuki Shibata and Ted Goossen, the festival welcomed the arrival of a Japan-themed issue of the British quarterly, “Granta,” released simultaneously in English and Japanese.
Edited by Yuka Igarashi, “Granta 127: Japan” boasts a fine pedigree: its contributors include recent Akutagawa Prize winner Hiroko Oyamada alongside various doyens of the contemporary Japanese literature scene, among them Hiromi Kawakami, Tomoyuki Hoshino and Toshiki Okada. And if those names don’t ring any bells (some are appearing in English translation for the first time), the international contingent — featuring David Mitchell, Ruth Ozeki, Adam Johnson, David Peace and more — probably will.