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New Writing from Japan Showcased in Monkey Business

This spring saw the launch of an English-language literary magazine called Monkey Business, an annual journal of new writing from Japan that was gathered and translated to be shared with a non-Japanese audience. It ranges from fiction and short stories to poems and manga, and many featured in this inaugural issue are heavy hitting contemporary authors. Haruki Murakami is interviewed by Hideo Furukawa (whose short story “Monsters” leads the collection), and there are short stories from highly regarded female novelists, Hiromi Kawakami and Yoko Ogawa.

Monkey Business was published by the Brooklyn-based, A Public Space and brought to fruition thanks to the support of the Nippon Foundation. Its co-editors are the prominent translators, Motoyuki Shibata and Ted Goossen, Shibata having launched the Tokyo-based Japanese-language Monkey Business in 2008. Since then, leading Japanese and American authors have appeared in this literary magazine.

University of Tokyo lecturer, Roland Kelts was a contributing editor for the English version, and he describes its creation as unprecedented. Kelts and his colleagues were on hand at a series of promotional events at places like Japan Society and Asia Society in early May, accompanied by some of the authors themselves. He commented, “I am honored to be a part of this process of trans-cultural literary exchange, and I think the magazine is stunning, with content from new and older Japanese artists that will excite great interest in Japan’s thriving creative culture.”

Indeed, there is no doubt that this endeavor will bring in new audiences for the amazing talent emerging from Japan. Monkey Business is an appealing format that breaks down the linguistic barriers that might have previously existed in regard to accessing Japan’s rich cultural offerings.

For those interested in acquiring a copy of Monkey Business ($15), please visit: