What Is Iidabashi Literary Club?

Our group has its origins in a series of informal gatherings of individuals working with literature in one way or another. Although we were ‘contemporaries’ with an interest in each other’s work, we only really got to talk to each other once every few years at symposiums or dialogues for literary magazines. Writing is by nature a solitary pursuit, reading a private pleasure. But discussing books with others is also one of the great joys of literature. At our gatherings we talked about both our individual work and literary works of all ages and cultures.

Our group grew over time to include not just writers and critics, but also individuals involved in introducing contemporary Japanese literature to English, French, Arabic and other foreign readerships. And the place where we usually gathered happened to be in the Iidabashi area, so that’s how we got our name.

Every age and place has had its range of literary gatherings. Our group does not subscribe to any common philosophy or approach to literature. If we share anything, it’s the simple desire to be inspired by the work of other individuals. And our hope is that this diversity will help us give birth to something truly unique.

We created this website in the hope of opening up the dialogue to as many people as possible. To that end, we hope to share content, where possible, not only in Japanese, but also in English and other languages. We will continue building on the content―stories, essays, news, readings, dialogues, guest features, and newsletters―made available on this site, as well as organizing events where people can come together to meet and discuss various issues in person. We hope that you will join us in turning this into a lively space for literary exchange.

Masahiko ABE

Masahiko ABE (1966-) is an Associate Professor in English at the University of Tokyo. His primary research area is modern poetry, both British and American, but his interests also cover fiction, including works written in Japanese. His publications include Modernity and the Strategy of Boredom -- Oe, Stevens and Avant-garde (2001), Improvisation and Literature (2004), An Introduction to Poetry in English (2007), On Slowmotion (2009), How English Works (2010), Understanding Japanese Fiction: Some Notes and Insights (2012), 'Staring' and Literature (2012). While contributing regularly to 'The Rising Generation on the Web' (http://www.kenkyusha.co.jp/modules/03_webeigo/) and the book review site of Kinokuniya book store (http://booklog.kinokuniya.co.jp/), he is now working on topics such as 'politeness,' 'ethics of stomach problems,' 'the culture of warming-up' ...etc. He is also a translator of Frank O'Connor's short stories. He won Waseda Literary Award in 1998.

Maisara AFIFI

Maisara AFIFI is an Arabian interpreter and translator. Born in Cairo, Egypt in 1971, he graduated from Geophysics Department of Cairo University. He studied Japanese at the Japanese embassy in Egypt and came to Japan for study in 1996. Since 1999, he has been working as a freelance translator. His translated a wide range of Japanese books, such as L'Eclipse by Keiichiro Hirano, The Priest of Shiga Temple and His Love, works by Naoki Komuro.

Jungo AOKI

Jungo AOKI is a Japanese novelist. He was born in Saitama prefecture and graduated from Waseda University. He made his literary debut with Märchen of 40days and 40 nights (四十日と四十夜のメルヘン) and won the 35th Shincho Literary Award for Rising Generation in 2003. His collected works with the same title brought him the 27th Noma Literary Award for Rising Generation in 2005. He published I Am Absent From the High School (私のいない高校) and won the 25th Mishima Yukio Award in 2012. He wrote other novels such as Good Boy at Home (いい子は家で) and The Other Day, In Tokyo (このあいだ東京でね). He is also a househusband.

Corinne ATLAN

Corinne ATLAN was born in Algeria in 1958, and now living in Paris. She stayed in Japan for 2 years after she received her Bachelor of Japanese Language at INALCO (National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations) in Paris, and taught French in Japan and Nepal for more than 10 years. She has translated as many as 40 Japanese literary works ranging from the classics of modern Japanese literature to historical novels, dramas, and contemporary literature. Her translation works have received many prizes including; The White Buddha (白仏) by Hitonari Tsuji - Prix Femina for Foreign Literature in 1999, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (ねじまき鳥クロニクル) by Haruki Murakami - Konishi Foundation Prize for Japanese-French Translation in 2003, Audubon's Prayer (オデュボンの祈り) by ‪Kōtarō Isaka - Zoom Japon Prize for Japanese-French Translation and so on. Her translation works include Sanshō the Steward by ‪Ōgai Mori, Floating Clouds by Fumiko Hayashi, Yodo's Diary by Yasushi Inoue, The Last Shogun by Ryōtarō Shiba, The Firmament of the Pleiades by ‪Jirō Asada, Coin Locker Babies by ‪Ryū Murakami, Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami, Conte de la première lune by Keiichirō Hirano and many others. She also translated Nepalese literary works such as Blue Flowers of Jacaranda (1996) by Parijat and published the results of her research on Nepalese Buddhist dances as Dances of Diamond (2002). Her first novel The Monastery of Dawn (曙の僧院) was published in 2006 and became available in paperback in 2012. In February 2014, her second novel, Le Cavalier au miroir (the Horseman with a mirror) will be published.


Robert CAMPBELL, Ph.D., is a professor of Japanese literature in the Department of Comparative Literature and Culture, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the University of Tokyo, Japan (Komaba campus). Born in New York City, Campbell moved to Japan to study early modern literature and has taught at the University of Tokyo as professor since 2007.

Keiichirō HIRANO

Keiichirō HIRANO is a Japanese novelist, born in Aichi prefecture in 1975 and raised in Kita-kyushu city. He graduated from the Law Department of Kyoto University. He published his first novel, L'Ecripse (日蝕), on one of the most authoritative literary magazine, Shinchō (新潮) , in 1999 and won the 120th Akutagawa Prize. Since then, he has produced many works, the translations of which are available in various languages, various countries. He published novels, such as Funeral (葬送), Ripples the Dripping Clocks Make (滴り落ちる時計達の波紋), Collapse (決壊), Dawn (ドーン), and The Only Form of Love (かたちだけの愛), and also a book of essays, Monologue (モノローグ), and interviews, Dialogue (ディアローグ). His latest works are an essay, What Is I?: From Individual to Dividual (私とは何か 「個人」から「分人」へ), and a long novel, Fill the Void (空白を満たしなさい).


David KARASHIMA is Director of the Tokyo International Literary Festival and Manager of the Read Japan Program--a partnership among authors, translators, editors, publishers and universities to facilitate the publication of Japanese literature in translation. He has translated into English works by Japanese authors such as Hitomi Kanehara, Taichi Yamada, and Yasutaka Tsutsui, and recently co-edited (with Elmer Luke) the collection of stories March Was Made of Yarn: Writers Respond to the Japanese Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Meltdown.


Takahiro NAKAJIMA (1964-) is Associate Professor in Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, University of Tokyo. He has been studying Chinese philosophy from comparative perspective, by putting it in East Asian and Western context. He is also interested in Chinese literature and critique, particularly those of Lu Xun. He examines how the pre-modern and the modern intertwine in literature. He writes about Lu Xun in The Reverberation of Chinese Philosophy: Language and Politics (2007) (残響の中国哲学――言語と政治). His recent works include Philosophy Of the Evil: Imagination of Chinese Philosophy (2012) (悪の哲学――中国哲学の想像力).


Fuminori NAKAMURA is a Japanese novelist. He was born in 1977 and graduated from Fukushima University in 2000. In 2002, he won the Shincho Newcomer's Award for his first novel, The Gun, and in 2005, he won the Akutagawa Prize for The Boy in the Earth. He also won the 2010 Oe Prize for The Thief. This novel was selected as A Wall Street Journal Best Fiction of 2012 and An Amazon Best Mistery/Thriller of the Month, and nominated for A Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His publications include Evil and the Mask.


Ryōsuke SAEGUSA is the executive vice president of Cork Inc., the literary agency. He started to work in one of the most authoritative Japanese publishers, Kōdan-sha (講談社), in 2001. He worked at the editorial department of a comic magazine, Weekly Shōnen Magazine (週刊少年マガジン), until 2005, at the first literary publishing department until 2008, at the editorial department of a literary magazine, Gunzō (群像), until 2012, and then at the publishing department of paperbacks. He resigned from the company in September 2012 and established Cork Inc. in October.


Ryōko SEKIGUCHI is a writer, translator and poet, born in Shinjuku ward of Tokyo. She writes both in Japanese and French. She has spent a long time in Paris and from September 2013, France Academy brought her to Villa Medici in Rome, Italy. As a poet, she published The Book of Granada (グラナダ詩編), Ki (機) with Gōzō Yoshimatsu, and It's not an accident (Ce n'est pas un hazard). Her Japanese translations from French include Stone of Patience (Syngué sabour: Pierre de Patience ; 悲しみを聴く石) by Atiq Rahimi and Tell Them of Battles, of Kings and of Elephants (Parle-leur de batailles, de rois et d'éléphants ; 話してあげて、戦や王さま、象の話を) by Mathias Énard. Her French translations from Japanese include Blood and Born (血と骨) by Yang Sok-il and Suspect on the Night Train (容疑者の夜行列車). She also translated Japanese comic books by Mari Yamazaki, Moto Hagio, Kyōko Okazaki, Yū Takita, Hinako Sugiura etc. into French.


Tomoka SHIBASAKI is Japanese novelist, born in Osaka in 1973. She graduated from the College of Integrated Arts and Sciences of Osaka Prefecture University. She made her debut in 2003 with What Happen Today? (A Day on the Planet) (きょうのできごと), which was filmed in 2003. One of her novels Today, in That City (その街の今は) won the Oda Sakunosuke Literary Award, the New Face Award of Minister of Education Award for Fine Arts, and the Sakuya-konohana Prize. She also published Awake or Asleep (寝ても覚めても) and won the Noma Literary Award for the Rising Generation. Her publication includes Viridian (ビリジアン), In the City Where I Was Not (わたしがいなかった街で), Weekends (週末カミング), and a collection of her essays Curious Wanderer (よそ見津々) and many others.

Masaaki TAKEDA

Masaaki TAKEDA (1974-) is an associate professor at the University of Tokyo. He specializes in eighteenth-century British literature such as Robinson Crusoe (1719) and Gulliver's Travels (1726). He is also interested in the contemporary literature either in English or in Japanese, and studying the unique function of the novel as a literary genre that endlessly reestablishes itself. His publications include critical works such as "Disenclosing Criticism: Hiroki Azuma and Masaya Nakahara (囲われない批評――東浩紀と中原昌也)" and "Exile from Oneself: Kenzaburo Oe's Death by Water and the Idea of Late Style (自分自身からの亡命者(エグザイル)――『水死』と晩年性)", and also Japanese translation of Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (2011).


Shinya TANAKA is a Japanese novelist. Born in Yamaguchi prefecture in 1972, he graduated from Shimonoseki Chūō prefectural technical high school. Since then, he has been doing nothing but reading and writing for 14 years, without either getting a full-time or part-time job, or studying at college. He published A Sheep in Cold Water (冷たい水の羊) in 2005 and won Shincho Award for Rising Generation. In 2008, he published Pupa (蛹) to get the Kawabata Yasunari Literary Prize, and also the collected works titled Broken Chain (切れた鎖) to win Mishima Yukio Prize. In 2012, his novel Prey on One Another (共喰い) brought him Akutagawa Prize. His other works include The Storage in the Library (図書準備室), The Japan Series Where God Is Absent (神様のいない日本シリーズ), A Dog and a Crow (犬と鴉) etc. He prefers to write novels in the highly "orthodox" way, namely with paper and a pencil, so he does not have a high-tech device like a computer or a mobile phone.


Yusuke TANAKA, born in Shizuoka prefecture in 1972, is currently an associate professor in the Department of English at the College of Literature of Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo. He specialises in British literature and culture, especially 19th-century English literature and culture. He graduated from the Faculty of Literature at Keio University and obtained his doctorate from Hitotsubashi University; his dissertation was a historical study of Matthew Arnold's idea of 'culture'. His Japanese translations include Marcel Proust by Edmund White, The Century of Schnitzler by Peter Gay, Chromophobia by David Batchelor. He has completed an annotation and commentary for Keiichiro Hirano's translation of Salome by Oscar Wilde and is currently researching the social and economic aspects of the interaction between Wilde and his cultural milieu.


Koji TOKO is a translator of contemporary American literature and Professor at Waseda University. His translations into Japanese include The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre, Factotum by Charles Bukowski, A Widow for One Year by John Irving, and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. He has also written two critically acclaimed books: The Birth of Pseudo-American Literature and Towards a Planetary Reading of 30 Books in the 21st Century.