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Heaven’s Wind

Heaven’s Wind
Edited and Translated by Angus Turvill
The Japan Society (2018)
ISBN-10: 9780955997723

Heaven’s Wind is a collection of short stories by five of Japan’s leading contemporary authors: Kuniko Mukoda – The Otter; Natsuko Kuroda – Ball, Kaori Ekuni – Summer Blanket; Mitsuyo Kakuta – The Child over There; and Aoko Matsuda – Planting. Taking its name from one of Japan’s best known classical poems, Heaven’s Wind (Amatsukaze) is the world’s first dual language anthology of Japanese women’s writing, including four Naoki and Akutagawa Prize winners. The English versions are by award-winning translator Angus Turvill.

The authors were born over fifty years from 1929 to 1979, and their stories were written over the past five decades. These gently written tales of deceit, loss and self-affirmation are set against pre-war to post-tsunami backdrops, ranging over town, countryside, suburb and coast. One thousand years since a Japanese woman wrote the world’s first novel, this wonderful anthology gives a unique perspective on the power of women writers in Japan today.

Aimed at readers of either or both languages, the book seeks to bring people from different cultures together in the shared experience of reading the same stories from the same book. Often translations are presented to the world as quite different products from the originals – the cover, size and marketing content taking the two versions in different directions. Having both texts in the same book gives the stories, and their readers, the same starting point.

Like all great work, this anthology effortlessly spans the divides of gender and generation. It has great appeal too for language learners, the stories being presented in a parallel-text format. The major hurdle for learners of Japanese – how to read the kanji characters – is cleared through the provision of comprehensive rubi reading guides throughout.

For those who wonder how similar the translations are to their originals in terms of text, Turvill’s afterword (Spot the Difference!) highlights ways in which the translation process can or must change meaning and structure.


  • "The stories linger in the reader’s mind, and I look forward to a second volume."

  • "Stories that felt like a breath of fresh air. I was transported to a Japanese seashore, was wrapped in a light summer blanket, and planted away my fear…"

  • Even if you are a less-fluent J-speaker/reader, you will be able to smoothly read this lovely thing [...] thanks to the generous use of furigana readings for all the kanji. No need to look up any pronunciations! This was a deliberate choice on the part of editor and translator Angus Turvill to make the stories accessible to readers of all Japanese levels, just one way in which the book welcomes readers.
    Brain Vs. Book

  • "Each story offers an intimate portrait of human psychology that is firmly grounded in the rich details of its setting."
    Contemporary Japanese Literature

  • "Heaven's Wind gives a unique perspective on the power of women writers in Japan today."

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