Wednesday 23 August 2023

Book Review: The Siren's Lament by Tanizaki Jun'ichirō (Short Stories)

Title: The Siren's Lament
Author: Tanizaki Jun'ichirō
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Publication Date: 26 September 2023
Pages: 224
Format: eBook - PDF
Genre: Short Stories
Source: ARC via NetGalley

Lavishly opulent stories of sensual obsession, cultural heritage, and mythological creatures—translated into English for the first time—from a classic Japanese writer

Featuring “The Qilin,” “The Siren’s Lament,” and the novella Killing O-Tsuya, this gorgeous new edition of 3 classic works translated by Bryan Karetnyk distills the essence of Jun'ichirō Tanizaki's shorter fiction: the co-mingling of Japanese and Chinese mythologies, the chillingly dark side of desire, and the paper-thin line between the sublime and the depraved.

“The Qilin”: The sage Confucius travels to a kingdom ruled by a struggling duke, whose pursuit of virtue is threatened by his consort's obsession desire for pleasure.
Killing O-Tsuya: A naïve servant elopes with his master's daughter, only to be plunged headlong into a world of murder and corruption.
“The Siren’s Lament”: Exhausted by a lifestyle of never-ending debauchery, a young prince finds himself in possession of a dazzling, beguiling mermaid.

The essential short works of one of the most important and widely-read figured in modern Japanese literature, author of hugely popular works including In Praise of Shadows, The Makioka Sisters, and Naomi; renowned for his investigations of family dynamics, eroticism, and cultural identity.


The Siren's Lament was an enjoyable collection of three short stories by Tanizaki Jun'ichirō. All three tales had something interesting to offer, but I think my favourite was "Killing O-Tsuya. It was the longest of the three and I felt that gave me time to really get involved with the characters and their situations. This is the second trio of short stories I've read by this author and I am certainly keen now to go on to read some of his longer works. Recommended if you like early 20th century Japanese fiction. I am giving this book 4.5 stars.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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