Suzanne Kamata

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The Broken Bridge: Fiction from Expatriates in Literary Japan

This collection of short stories by non-Japanese who choose to live in Japan is an absorbing look at the Outsider in a nation that does not absorb foreigners easily. Unlike that other, earlier hotbed of expatriate writing, Literary Paris, which was not so different from home, postwar Literary Japan has confronted its expatriate writing community with a challenging mental and physical landscape. Those in pursuit of "traditional art" are met instead by a grim, modern city, or a harsh, uncommunicative sensei. The affable, glad-handing American faces a stony, uncomprehending silence. There is also lust, the dream of exotic physical pleasures. And the chance to transform the Self into something totally Alien. Admired for their "non-Japaneseness," foreigners in Japan - gaijin - are often placed upon a pedestal, only to find themselves placed out of reach. In their isolation they may turn to each other for comfort and conversation...

From varied experiences like these did the writings in this collection emerge. The Broken Bridge presents stories from the period after the Occupation until the present day and contains work by 36 non-Japanese writers, including Phyllis Birnbaum, Alan Brown, Meira Chand, Alex Kerr, Leza Lowitz, Edward Seidensticker, Kate the Slops, and Philip Whalen.