First published in 1960 under the Japanese title Utage no Ato, The New Yorker called After the Banquet “the biggest and most profound thing Mishima has done so far in an already distinguished career” upon its translation into English by Donald Keene in 1963, and it is still considered a modern classic. This book was praised in particular for its approach to contrasting musings on death with finding meaning in life itself, as well as its richly described settings. The plot follows Kazu, a shrewd and charming proprietor of a restaurant that caters to politicians. But when the she falls in love with one of her clients, an aristocratic retired politician, she renounces her business in order to become his wife. As Mishima based the novel on events in the life of a real politician, Hachiro Arita, the work triggered a landmark legal case, famous due to its celebrity litigants and the ground-breaking decision with regards to a “Right to Privacy”.
The book club is held every month. There is no restriction on the nationality of the authors read, but books should be available in translation in both Japanese and English. The discussion is conducted mainly in English, but you can choose the language in which you read the book. The intention is simple: to explore the themes of the book, express personal opinions on the style and content, discuss how the book has changed (or not) in translation and to have a relaxed discussion with others who have similar interests.
Yukio Mishima (1925-1970) was the pen name of Kimitake Hiraoka, a Japanese author, poet, playwright, actor, and film director. Mishima is considered one of the most important Japanese authors of the 20th century; he was nominated three times for the Nobel Prize in Literature and was poised to win the prize in 1968, eventually losing the award to his fellow countryman Yasunari Kawabata. His avant-garde work displayed a blending of modern and traditional aesthetics that broke cultural boundaries, with a focus on sexuality, death, and political change. Mishima was also known for his bodybuilding and martial arts obsessions. In 1970 he committed ritual suicide by seppuku after a failed coup d’état.