Saturday, May 4, 2013

I think I'm turning Japanese!

I think I'm turning Japanese, I really think so...

Not really. But I've been on an odd little Japanese kick recently. Reading these two volumes, both for work purposes:

Ihara Saikaku's The Great Mirror of Male Love is research material for the new pan-Asian gay men's magazine Element. I'm including it in a list of gay Asian classic books, and it's really awesome for the purpose: it's a series of 40 short stories, all celebrating male-male romance/sex, published in 1687 by a landmark author of erotica, proof that there was an age when Asians weren't squeamish at all about homosexuality; when it was actually institutionalised, to an extent. (Not sure how I'll treat the fact that the "bottoms" were usually boys under the age of 16, and that a lot of the stories end in ritual seppuku.)

Ben Hills's Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne is the real-life tale of a modern-day Japanese lady who became a princess and did not live happily ever after; pressured by the imperial staff into a state of terrible depression. I'm reading it for an article for What's Up: News For Kids - I've been asked to write about how the princess has just been seen at her first overseas trip in 10 years, and I realised this volume would give me the background story more efficiently than snooping around on the web. (Quite a tinge of cultural imperialism in the authorial voice, imho.)

As such, my progress on my Kiribati book has been slow. Stay tuned!

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