Reviewer’s Bookwatch: November 2007
Ryunosuke Akutagawa, author
Charles De Wolf, translator
Skillfully translated from the original Japanese by Charles De Wolf, Mandarins: Stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa is an anthology of short stories written during the all-too-brief life of Ryunosuke Akutagawa (1892-1927). Fluidly evoking 1920s Japan, in an era when traditions were in flux and the yearning for personal liberty burned brightly, Mandarins features characters who struggle against the society around them. The three stories in Mandarins translated into English for the first time are “An Enlightened Husband,” “An Evening Conversation,” and “Winter.” At times cruel, at times fantastically descriptive, Akutagawa’s prose resonates with a piercing clarity on every page. A welcome addition to Japanese literature shelves.