Books Like American Fuji
Books are not just great for allowing us to step into rich fantasy or science fiction worlds, but also for seeing the world outside our doorstep in a new light. There are many novels, such as American Fuji by Sara Backer, that provide readers to experience the rich cultural diversity of foreign countries through the eyes of relatable characters. American Fuji is the story of two Americans from different walks of life who end up having to navigate the confusing world of Japanese culture. Japan in particular is a country that holds a lot of fascination for many people because of how different the culture there can be compared to the West. For readers who couldn't get enough of the Sara Backer novel, here are more books like American Fuji that explore the people and culture of Japan.
by Ruth Ozeki
A Tale for the Time Being is a novel by Ruth Ozeki, who also wrote My Year of Meats and All Over Creation. The novel actually tells a story within a story and features a 16-year old girl named Nao and a novelist named Ruth. Nao was living in California, when her father loses his job they are forced to return to Japan, which causes a great deal of emotional distress for her. In an attempt to cope, Nao decides to write down the story of her great-grandmother who is a Buddhist nun, but in the process captures her own life story as well. Ruth, on the other hand, lives with her husband on an island off British Columbia where she also feels isolated. When Ruth finds a Hello Kitty lunchbox washed up on the beach she suspects that it is from the 2011 tsunami that struck Japan. Inside the lunchbox, she discovers Nao's diary and begins to feel a strong connection to the girl that she has never met after reading her story.
by Haruki Murakami
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is the thirteenth novel by the acclaimed Japanese author, Haruki Murakami. It is the story of Tsukuru Tazaki who had his friends sever all ties with him during his second year in college. Since they never explained their reasons for doing so the event left Tazaki feeling guilty and depressed. It's not until Tazaki is in his mid-thirties and working as an engineer that his new girlfriend convinces him to confront his past. Since she won't commit to him unless he can put his past behind him Tazaki sets out to find his former friends and confront them with them about their rejection. The title of the novel refers to the fact that Tazaki was the only one in his group of friends who didn't have a color as part of his surname, which made him feel like the "colorless" one.
by Kazuki Kaneshiro
Go is a 2000 novel by Kazuki Kaneshiro that also released a film adaptation in 2001. However, it wasn't until 2018 that an English translation of the novel was released. It is the story of Sugihara, a Korean student attending a Japanese high school. His situation is already very tough because of the bullying he receives, but then Sugihara falls in love with a Japanese girl named Sakurai. The two of them bond over their shared love for classic music as well as foreign music, but Sugihara is reluctant to reveal his nationality to Sakurai. Things change when Sugihara is hit by a personal tragedy and decides to come clean to Sakurai despite the risk that she might abandon him.
by Nina Schuyler
Nina Schuyler's The Translator is a novel about a woman named Hanne Schubert. Hanne used to be a renowned translator, but an accident leaves her unable to speak her native language. After the accident, Hanne can only speak Japanese, which is a language that she learned later in life. This disability obviously makes life very difficult for her, so relocates to Japan in an effort to feel more at home. Unfortunately when she arrives there the Japanese author whose work she previously translated publicly accuses her of sabotaging him. Hanne is shocked by this event, but it does place her on a journey of discovery. It is a journey that begins with the actor on which the novel she translated was based, a man who was once a master in the art of Noh theater.
by Natsume Soseki
Sanshiro is a novel by Natsume Soseki that originally appeared as serialized work in a Japanese newspaper in 1908 before it was published as a book in 1909. The story follows a young man named Sanshirō Ogawa who is from the countryside of southern Japan. Sanshiro leaves the countryside for the first time when he travels to Tokyo to attend the university. It is here that he not only has to deal with the culture shock of Tokyo but also the complications of the opposite sex. Sanshiro also offers a fascinating glimpse of Japanese culture during a very interesting period of their history.