The Summer of Genji

For everyone who answers the question “Got any summer plans?” by saying “I’m going to read what is widely considered the world’s first novel, a 1200-page Japanese court drama known as The Tale of Genji,” then congrats on being my kind of person.

Fact is, starting June 15 I’m reading this beast, and I’ve got a bunch of people from The Quarterly Conversation and Open Letters Monthly who will be joining me and blogging it every step of the way. We’re calling it The Summer of Genji, and we’re putting together a nice little website where anyone who wants to join in can follow our progress. (Hopefully the site will be ready to show off later this week.)

We’ll be using the Tyler translation, published as a Penguin Classic in 2002, and were going to do a very manageable 90 – 100 pages per week. So if you’re game, grab a copy by June 15 and get ready to be in Imperial Japan.

Recent Posts

Criticism Isn't Free

CR is dedicated to thoughtful, in-depth criticism without regard to what's commercially appealing. It takes tens of hours each month to provide this. Please help make this sort of writing sustainable, either with a subscription or a one-time donation. Thank you!

You could also purchase one of my acclaimed ebooks.


Got Something To Say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


What a great idea! Love it! The Tale of Genji is an amazing text, and one I’ve been reading on and off for years now. Jealous of all those readers out there who will be reading it for the first time. Hope to join in on some of your conversations as well, I can’t wait to see what everyone thinks.


I love the idea, and I might just be on board, though I just read my first Bernhard and he might be my thing for the next month or so.

I was wondering, though, what made you select this translation? I’ve often looked at reading it (I’m a fan of Japanese lit) but never decided which translation I would prefer (excuses, excuses…)

In my opinion it is also the world’s first Science Fiction novel – Weird and mindblowing. I’ll be following long at home – will you have an online glossary of who everybody is at a certain point in the text (hint: identity is fluid to say the least)?

P.T.: It wasn’t my choice, although my readers-in-arms seemed to this it was the obvious choice. I really know very little about the options for this book.

Very much looking forward to this. Time to get myself to Green Apple…

Most intrigued, text ordered: deal me in.


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

Shop though these links = Support this site

Copyright © 2018. Powered by WordPress & Romangie Theme.