Literature, like food, is, in Terry Eagleton’s words, “endlessly interpretable,” and food, like literature, “looks like an object but is actually a relationship.” So how much do we, and should we, read into the way food is represented in literature? Reading Food in Modern Japanese Literature, by Tomoko Aoyama, explores this and other questions in an unusual and fascinating tour of twentieth-century Japanese literature. Tomoko Aoyama analyzes a wide range of diverse writings that focus on food, eating, and cooking and considers how factors such as industrialization, urbanization, nationalism, and gender construction have affected people’s relationships to food, nature, and culture, and to each other. The examples she offers are taken from novels (shosetsu) and other literary texts and include well known writers (such as Tanizaki Jun’ichiro, Hayashi Fumiko, Okamoto Kanoko, Kaiko Takeshi, and Yoshimoto Banana) as well as those who are less widely known (Murai Gensai, Nagatsuka Takashi, Sumii Sue, and Numa Shozo).
September 2008 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3285-8 / $52.00 (CLOTH)