JFT Book Club Online – Three Short Works by NISHI Kanako: On beauty, the Female Experience and Othering

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February 8 @ 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm EST

Cost: Free
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For the upcoming JFT Book Club Online, we will discuss NISHI Kanako’s short story VIO along with the author’s essays On Beauty, Sexual Violence, and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Merry Christmas.

Join our virtual conversation on the three thought-provoking works by NISHI Kanako, one of the most iconic contemporary Japanese female authors and winner of the prestigious Naoki Prize. Although her works are incredibly popular in Japan, most of NISHI Kanako’s books are yet to be translated into English. This will be an exciting opportunity to enjoy inspiring works by one of the most anticipated authors entering the international literary scene!

Kris Kosaka (Columnist, The Japan Times) will be also joining us as a moderator to guide us through the session.

Register Here

*Depending on the number of the participants and how the discussion goes, we might extend the end time until 7 pm (EST). However, if you have other commitments, feel free to leave at 6:30 pm.

*Please be aware that space may be limited.
*Prior to the meeting, an email will be sent to you with a website link and log-in password to enter the online Zoom meeting.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to email us at library_jftoronto@jpf.go.jp. First-time participants are always welcome!



You can read a book by yourself, but when you read something thought-provoking or moving, it’s natural to want to discuss it with someone else. This will be an exciting opportunity to connect with other book lovers from different cultural backgrounds, find new and interesting books, authors, or themes, and develop a richer understanding of Japan that you wouldn’t gain from reading alone!



NISHI Kanako’s short story VIO and the author’s essays On Beauty, Sexual Violence, and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Merry Christmas are available online for free.



I had an odd feeling as I regarded Yō, who knew things about me that I hadn’t known.

Fiction written by NISHI Kanako
Translated by Allison Markin Powell
Granta.com, 2020

VIO is originally published in Japanese in the June 2019 issue of “Subaru”. The work has been translated into English by Allison Markin Powell as part of Granta’s 20 for 2020 series, one of twenty timely and exciting new works from the Japanese published at Granta.com.

Read Here

On Beauty, Sexual Violence, and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye

Morrison neither consoled me as a victim, nor condemned me as the perpetrator.

Essay written by NISHI Kanako
Translated by Allison Markin Powell
Literary Hub, 2020

Read Here

Merry Christmas

After all, our bodies too are frameworks in and of themselves. We cannot escape these boundaries.
But we can make their edges softer. For the sake of others, we can change shape, and draw closer to one another

Essay written by NISHI Kanako
Translated by Allison Markin Powell
Fifty Storms, 2015

Read Here  
*The Japanese version is available on NISHI Kanako Official Website.



Burn (燃やす)

There was something running from my eyes, but it definitely wasn’t tears.
Somehow, they didn’t deserve to be called tears.
Whatever it was, they were stickier than tears, and gave off a strong smell.
And anyway, I certainly wasn’t crying.

Fiction written by NISHI Kanako
Translated by Allison Markin Powell
Grove Atlantic, 2018

Burn (the English version) is published by Grove Atlantic in 2018 in Freeman’s: Power, the fifth issue of an anthology selected by literary critic John Freeman. 

*The digital copy is available for circulation on Japan Foundation’s digital library (JF OverDrive). To get a new JFT library card or to renew your existing card, please follow the instructions found here.

Read Here  

「燃やす」 (the Japanese version) is published by Chikuma Shobo as part of NISHI Kanako’s anthology 『おまじない』 in 2021.
*The digital copy of 「燃やす」 is currently available on the publisher’s website.



JFNY Literary Series: Kanako Nishi x Allison Markin Powell

JFNY Literary Series invites notable writers in Japanese literature and their translators to discuss their work, speak on the art of translation, and touch upon the current literary scene in Japan.

This session on April 21, 2021 featured Kanako Nishi and her translator Allison Markin Powell, moderated by wrtier Kyoko Nakajima. Ginny Tapley Takemori from the collective Strong Women, Soft Power and interpreter Bethan Jones also joined the session. 

Watch Here





© Shingo Wakagi

NISHI Kanako (1977–) was born in Tehran, Iran, where her family had relocated for her father’s job. She subsequently lived in Japan for several years before moving with her family to Cairo, Egypt, where she spent four of her elementary school years. The male protagonist’s early life in her novel Saraba! (So Long!) roughly parallels her own. At 25 she began writing fiction, and made her literary debut in 2004 with the short story collection Aoi (Blue). In 2006 she won the Oda Sakunosuke Prize for her novel Tsūtenkaku (Tower to Heaven), and in 2012 she received the Kawai Hayao Prize for the novel Fukuwarai (Funny Face). Her monumental 2014 novel Saraba!, in which the action roves across all of the places where she has lived, from Iran to Egypt and Osaka to Tokyo, garnered her the prestigious Naoki Prize. Nishi’s forthright portrayals of the alienation experienced by characters with strong personalities have gained her a wide following, especially among young readers. She is also known as an avid fan of professional wrestling.



Allison Markin Powell has been awarded grants from English PEN and the NEA, and the 2020 PEN America Translation Prize for The Ten Loves of Nishino by Hiromi Kawakami. Her other translations include works by Osamu Dazai, Kanako Nishi, and Kaoru Takamura. She was the co-organizer and co-host of the Translating the Future conference, served as co-chair of the PEN America Translation Committee and currently represents the committee on PEN’s Board of Trustees, and as part of the collective, Strong Women, Soft Power, is curating JFNY’s online literary series.



Writer Kris Kosaka moved to Japan in 1996 to accept a position teaching high school English at an international school. She fell in love with the country and soon met her future husband, Makoto. They made their home in Kamakura, where Kris continued teaching and writing while raising their two children. Although temporarily in Tampa, FL (her hometown) while their daughter completes her high school education in the States, Kris’s heart is in Japan. In her spare time, Kris enjoys reading and running. Kris is a frequent contributor to The Japan Times, and a regular columnist for their Books pages.

Previous Book Clubs


JFT Book Club Online: Temple Alley Summer by KASHIWABA Sachiko – September 15, 2022

JFT Book Club Online: Manga – June 15, 2022


JFT Book Club Online: Bring Your Own Book – April 13, 2022


JFT Book Club Online: The Woman in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura
– February 9, 2022

JFT Book Club Online:
Colorful by Eto Mori
– November 10, 2021

JFT Book Club Online: Heaven by Mieko Kawakami – August 12, 2021

JFT Book Club Online: Manga – June 10, 2021

JFT Book Club Online: Bring Your Own Book – April 8, 2021

JFT Book Club Online: The Memory Police – February 11, 2021

JFT Book Club Online: Breasts and Egg – November 5, 2020

JFT Book Club Online: Travel Japan – August 20, 2020

JFT Book Club Online – June 11, 2020

Memoirs of a Polar Bear – February 20, 2020

The Little House – December 12, 2019

Mystery Book Club – October 10, 2019

Movies and Books – August 8, 2019


Books and Tea – June 6, 2019


February 8 @ 5:30 pm
February 8 @ 6:30 pm
Event Category:


The Japan Foundation, Toronto Library
View Organizer Website


View Organizer Website