In October, Monkey, the latest literary magazine written in English in Japan, was launched. The publication, which brings together some of the world's best-known writers and translators, publishes contemporary Japanese fiction translated into the language of Shakespeare.
The first edition of the magazine translates a great diversity of Japanese literature, both ancient and modern, and facilitates discussions on the translation itself. Some notable articles include “The Visitor”, graphic narrative by Jon Klassen with text by Yōko Ogawa and translation by Lucy North, and “The Razor” by Naoya Shiga and translation by Ted Goossen, with comments from well-known filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda.
Monkey was founded by the Japanese translator Motoyuki Shibata – who has already translated Paul Auster and other notable Japanese writers into his language – and is something of a revival of the venerable Monkey Business, which Shibata led for several years with Ted Goossen, a well-known translator. by Japanese literary superstar Haruki Murakami. This professional duo was able to revive the magazine with the help of Tadashi Yanai, founder of the Japanese clothing retail giant Uniqlo.
While it is true that the list of authors and translators can be exciting for fans of Japanese literature – and even dazzling – in the words of Eric Margolis, who interviewed Shibata for the Japan Times before the launch (of the magazine), Monkey's intention is to be sophisticated, yet accessible.
At the risk of oversimplifying, the Japanese literary scene can be split between serious literary fiction – the type that goes up for the prestigious Akutagawa Prize – and popular literature – the type that goes up for the Naoki Prize. Shibata says that Monkey falls somewhere in the middle.
At the risk of oversimplification, the Japanese literary scene can be divided between serious literary fiction (the kind that wins the prestigious Akutagawa Prize), and popular literature (the one that wins the Naoki Prize). Shibata claims that Monkey is in the middle ground.
Monkey newsletter subscribers receive a free PDF download of “The Thirteenth Month,” a translation of Mieko Kawakami's short story:
A brilliant literary magazine “MONKEY New Writing from Japan” @monkeybizjapan is now offering a free digital download of my short story “The Thirteenth Month” in English which originally appeared in “Monkey Business Volume 5 ″! https://t.co/blnXiXdhAD
– 川 上 未 映 子 (@mieko_kawakami) October 5, 2020
The brilliant literary magazine MONKEY, now writes from Japan. Monkey Japan now offers a free digital download of my short story “The Thirteenth Month” in English, which originally appeared in Monkey Business, Volume 5!
Kawakami's recent novel, “Breasts and Eggs,” described as a “multifaceted consideration of the fundamental question, 'What does it mean to exist?'” Has received praise in Japan and around the world. Kawakami, one of Haruki Murakami's favorite writers, has posted a voluminous interview (in Japanese) with the novelist. The author also garnered attention (during the interview) for her direct criticism on stage around Murakami's novel “Killing Commendatore” published in 2017, in which she hinted that adored Japanese literature – among other fixations – perhaps it focuses too much on women's breasts.
With translations by groundbreaking novelists like Kawakami and others, Monkey promises to be a lively and exciting literary magazine. The electronic and downloadable e-Pub versions of the first issue can be purchased in a variety of formats on the Monkey website, along with a print edition available in December 2020.