If you do not have a chance to visit Japan often, there is another way of indulging into the culture, if you are not that much into manga and anime. Postwar literature is the best way to meet real Japan, without stereotypes like samurais, schoolgirls, or anime.
There are plenty of Japanese authors, whose work has been translated into English and many other languages and who, without a doubt, deserve your attention. With each writer having a different style, we recommend the following to start with:
The famous works are the heartwarming and touching novels like “Kitchen”, “Tsugumi” and others like “N.P.”. The author herself claims that her stories are about “the exhaustion of young Japanese in contemporary Japan” and “the way in which terrible experiences shape a person’s life”. The perfect way to get the feeling of how Japanese people see the world!
The most famous and probably the most controversial contemporary Japanese writer Murakami is often writing bizarre and surreal stories. Numerous works have been already translated, with “The Wind Up Bird Chronicle”, “Norwegian Wood”, “Dance Dance Dance” being some of the older, and “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” and “1Q84” being some of his recent books.
Not being related to the previous “Murakami” (Murakami is a common Japanese surname), Ryu Murakami is often picking up controversial topics like drug use and murder, but he is also exploring human nature. With a rebellious nature his works show the dark side of Japanese culture and behaviour.
Obviously there are a dozen of other novelist worth to mention, i.e. Amy Yamada, Kenzaburo Oe, Kenzo Kitakata, Mitsuyo Kakuta, Natsuo Kirino, Shintaro Ishihara and Teru Miyamoto, just to name a few. Before you decide on a book, check their reviews, the theme of the book and the critical acclaim to avoid any disappointments beforehand. Once you find an author you like, enjoy his or her books!