Tokyo Damage Report

Death of a Political Youth now downloadable.

What is DEATH OF A POLITICAL YOUTH? A book, dummy. A banned book. Who's it by? Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe. Download the whole thing here as an .rtf file.

Last year I translated Kenzaburo Oe's novella SEVENTEEN. You can read it here.

Seventeen – besides being funny – is important because it got banned for making fun of the uyoku (the black van militia right-wing guys).  It was translated into English. But what the English version doesn't say, is that the  SEVENTEEN novella is just the FIRST part of a full-sized novel. The second part ("Death of a Political Youth") is even more banned: the original Japanese publishers were warned not to publish it in their literary magazine, so they changed the title and put it out as a super-limited-edition pamphlet – almost a zine.  And Part Two was not at all available in English.

Until now, bitches! 

I'm in your corner. I hooked this up. It's not a pro-quality translation, but this is the shit that the japanese right-wingers don't want you to read!!!


How is part two stylistically different from part one?

Part two  is based on Otoya Yamaguchi, the real-life assassin of the Socialist Party Chairman (Japanese wiki here). Even though it picks up right where Part One left off, the tone is quite different. Part One was really funny, full of dick jokes, and comical misunderstandings. Part Two is really serious and political, full of long ideological discussions –  almost as if Kenzaburo pulled a Tom Wolfe and hung out with right-wingers all ahthropology-style so he could write about them more accurately .  Death of a Political Youth moves slower than Seventeen Part One, and even gets kind of boring, but that's deliberate. The book is structured as a slow drift from fanaticism into full-blown schizophrenic madness. A gradual grinding descent from political ideology into gibbering hallucinations. And that's not always an easy thing to pull, as a writer.

And yes, it DOES end with the main character hanging himself while jerking off and screaming LONG LIVE THE EMPEROR.

Download the whole thing here as an .rtf file.

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5 Comments so far

  1. Zichao January 7th, 2011 2:57 pm

    Just wanted to say thanks for the translation (and Ura Hello Work, which actually made me go out and buy the Japanese version), I loved it.

  2. Seol January 9th, 2011 2:56 pm

    Thanks lots for the books, man. You rock!

  3. Jamie February 7th, 2011 4:59 am

    Just finished reading both Seventeen and Death of a Political Youth. Both fascinating reads, thanks for the heroic effort on translating them!
    To read them on my eBook thingy, I converted both to ePub format which you can use on a Sony eReader and any Smartphones or computer with FBreader… Uploaded them here:

  4. admin February 10th, 2011 7:18 pm

    @jamie: thanks! I hope people snag those. I can’t use ereaders because generally i read in the tub. I got some neal stephenson books that are about twice as wide as when I started them.

  5. Ded Edward April 30th, 2018 10:31 pm

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve been researching for a non-fiction book I plan on writing about Japan in 1960 with Asanuma’s assassination as the hinge point. I speak almost no Japanese (a few phrases are all I know) and so I am grateful for any English translation available.

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