19 Feb / In Black and White by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, translated by Phyllis I. Lyons [in Booklist]
“[W]e can’t distinguish what is the truthful artist and what is the lying social man.” For Jun’ichirō Tanizaki’s (The Gourmet Club, 2001) protagonist, the writer Mizuno, creating fiction using real-life details – he models a murder victim on a casual acquaintance, even inadvertently slipping in the man’s actual name – might just prove fatal.
Mizuno plots a murder so convincingly on the page that its possibility seems imminent, and Mizuno must find any means possible (including faking gonorrhea, saving himself via sequel, betraying a secret pact with the mysterious Fräulein Hindenberg) to proactively create an alibi before a random, ardent reader turns deadly.
Originally published in 1928 as a newspaper serial, this rare work by the popular modern Japanese writer Tanizaki (1886–1965) has never been available in Japan as an independent volume, only in anthologies. Japanese scholar and professor Phyllis I. Lyons not only provides the first-ever English translation 80 years later, but also includes an illuminating afterword in which she contextualizes the virtually forgotten work as both literary history and a career-changing accomplishment for one of Japan’s most revered authors. New generations of readers will undoubtedly benefit from Lyons’ careful resurrection of this surprisingly timeless, slyly metafictional, unusually intriguing title.
Published: 1928 (Japan), 2018 (United States)