Southern Exposure:
Modern Japanese Literature From Okinawa

Michael Molasky + Steve Rabson (editors)

translated from the Japanese
University of Hawaii Press 2000
A book review by Danny Yee © 2001
Southern Exposure contains fifteen pages of poetry and twelve stories ranging up to novella length, translated from twentieth century Okinawan writing in Japanese. An introduction provides a brief history of Okinawa and its literary traditions; each piece is also preceded by a brief biographical sketch of the author.

The stories contain some lively writing, with a broad range of moods and styles. They also offer insight into life on Okinawa and aspects of its history. In the early stories a common theme is the relationship between Okinawans and mainlanders and the tensions of assimilation by mainland Japan (politically, Okinawa was fully absorbed only in 1879, following the Meiji restoration). In the more recent ones the huge United States military presence is unavoidable, even when it remains in the background. Among the more memorable stories: Oshiro Tatsuhiro's "Turtleback Tombs" describes a family taking shelter in their ancestral tomb during the United States naval bombardment toward the end of the war; Medoruma Shun's "Droplets" deals with the effects of their war experiences on the survivors; and in Matayoshi Eiki's "Fortunes by the Sea" an "adopted" husband (married into his wife's family), dissatisfied with life as an idle house-husband, breaks out of the mould, stealing a goat and visiting another women.

January 2001

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%T Southern Exposure
%S Modern Japanese Literature From Okinawa
%E Molasky, Michael
%E Rabson, Steve
%M Japanese
%I University of Hawaii Press
%D 2000
%O paperback
%G ISBN 0824823001
%P xii,362pp