SBP Blog

"The Japan Times" review 'A Shameful Life'

Michael Palmer - Monday, November 12, 2018

A journey to hell with Osamu Dazai, Japan’s ultimate bad boy novelist. Damian Flanagan dives into the new translation by Mark Gibeau of this classic by Osamu Dazai, A Shameful Life: Ningen Shikkaku

"Dazai is the ultimate bad boy of Japanese literature and “Ningen Shikkaku” is his supreme masterpiece, a novel that still shocks today with its brutal honesty and unflinching, strangely thrilling pessimism. Nothing remotely like it had been seen in Japanese literature before.

To gain a sense of its impact, we should think perhaps of the words of Yukio Mishima when he had previously discovered other similarly morally liberating art works by Aubrey Beardsley and Oscar Wilde: “Evil had been unleashed … moralizing was nowhere to be seen.”

As it happens, Mishima loathed Dazai, undoubtedly because he owed him so much in influence. Once, he followed Dazai to a party, styling himself as Dazai’s assassin, and told him to his face, “I hate your literature.” Dazai coolly looked him up and down and replied, “And yet you are here.”"

Read the full review here:


Big thanks to Damian Flanagan for his expertise in reviewing A Shameful Life, and as always a big thank you The Japan Times for covering it. The book is available now! Grab your copy from your favorite retailer here:


Like our blog? Please share it!


Subscribe to the SBP Mailing List

New Releases

Amy’s Guide to Best Behavior in Japan

Going to Japan? This unfussy modern guide guarantees you keep it polite and get it right!

Easy and Fun Katakana

Learn the second key Japanese syllabary from every angle: reading, writing, and real-world examples.

Exploring Kyoto

This revised and updated edition of the Japan travel classic and cultural guide gets you wandering from downtown quarters to remote mountaintop temples and features expanded information on new museums and gardens now open year-round for viewing.

The Fourth String

Two women. Two cultures. One music.

Tag Cloud

blurb Korea memior reviews non-fiction Shoah comics author event black jack Year of the Dog Culture suicide asian review of books literary review the japan times amys guide to best behavior in japan traditional japanese instrument shamisen performance forewrod reviews indies politics and prose hooked cross new release huffpost Asian Studies otakuusa Nikolas Bunton new books henry kiyama leonard koren zazen the japan society Christianity in Japan university of chicago in the woods of memory 1960's Japan kyoto publishing book award haibun AAS buddhist priest osamu dazai tokyo IBPA japan book Christianity juddhism the silver spoon travel to japan dazai tea understandind china through comics review anime History behavior Chinese history japanese people japanese books in english a memoir evil wife book hoarding japan custom journal' monks wife guide Second World War center of east asian studies visitor manga Japanese aesthetics suehiro maruo amy chavez learning in japan PEN AWARD Alexandra Johnson Anime/Manga/Comics gaijin pot japanese hate book review Translation musical publicity japan books japan food jun hazuki four immigrants dark horse japan behavior UCLA astrology religion japan guide 2019 no longer human alan brill World War II World War Two Basho's Narrow Road japanese instruments journal finalist Tokyo Olympics a shameful life graphic novels yukio mishima Ukiyo-e koun journal of a zen monks wife in japan japanese cutlure the fourth string walt disney japan etiquette japanese instrument asia gaijinpot tk nakagaki american shamisen book publicity japanese book hitlers cross verticle photography japanese bath VIZ buddhist mark gibeau Japan The Colorado Review drinking in japan hippocampus magazine will eisner giajin fantasy literature Okinawan literature etiquette japanese drunk author books hiroaki sato pottery washington dc green tea Children's Literature michael emmerich osamu tezuka memoir, tracy franz, zen monk, buddhist book blurb kyodo news eating in japan Art/Design purification Language the hidden writer state of belief japanese etiquette Interview frederik schodt hitler buddhist swastika performance manga biography alan moore the millions memoir kansuke naka classic japanese literature the buddhist swastika ancient symbols japan trip student teacher traditional japanese instrumenet Olympics ritual fred schodt japan travel chinese comics Travel author signing t.k. nakagaki shamisen danica davidson sensei and me haiku foreword indies janet pocorobba lions roar literary prize Chinese culture takuma sminkey swastika peace tourist bookstore japan today japanese travel donald keene rachel manley china history welton gaddy disney japan memoir Basho holocaust Coming of Age Day tea garden monk japanese classic Chinese Astrology Poetry expat Spirituality nara buddhist symbols illustration Korea photography catcher in the rye how to travel in japan event book talk Chinese New Year astro boy eastern and western philosophy book signing monk wife nazi travel Japan classic japan restaurant bowing in japan zen Japanese literature japanese books award nichi bei weekly, naomi hirarahara WWII tracy franz traditional polite matcha seppuku internment stone bridge press huffington post announcement world literature today japanese culture tricycle magazine Children's Books benjamin franklin award poetry of consciousness kinokuniya event foreword reviews japanese customs gratitude in japan ningen shikkaku book monks wife how to buddhism 2020 Olympics book reading min kahng holden caufield ancient symbol new york ex pat literature living in japan author tour jing liu book tour stone bridge cafe 1960s Korea learning shamisen amys guide to bes tbehavior in japan best behavior in japan my year of dirt and water Spring Festival journal of a zen monk's wife Japanese holidays osaka william f sibley Japanese art literature comic history zen monk manners brad hawley damian flanagan jared cook Chiune Sugihara what do in japan how to order in japan japan culture China shun medoruma sensei diary