This book presents three stories from the first decade of the career of Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, one of the most prominent Japanese writers of the 20th-century. Written in different genres, the stories share a concern for family and Japan's traditional culture in the face of Westernization.
... it’s a real pleasure to find these three unknown stories from the author’s early years ... The translators have done a superb job, not just in translating the stories in lucid, luminous prose, but also in giving the social, cultural, and personal context for the work in their Afterword. The stories are all haunting in very different ways ... Together, the three stories show the power of language in all its tones, presenting a kind of master class in voice and how that affects character and plot. The world of literature is much richer now that Longing and Other Stories is available for English readers.
That there are still delights [by Tanizaki] to be uncovered, however, is confirmed by the arrival of Longing and Other Stories ... Better work was yet to come, but the stories are satisfying in themselves and additionally pleasing for their hints of an emergent mastery ... At times (some of the best times in his fiction), Tanizaki seems more poet than novelist. For one thing, his characters are often literary folk, given to quotation. For another, he nurtured a poet’s ardor for isolated, self-illuminated images, the remoter the better. In his historical fiction he was forever plunging across the centuries to seize upon some neglected but glittery tableau.
Notable in both Tanizaki’s writing and the translations here is the variation in tone. Each of these three stories is highly distinct. 'Longing', translated by McCarthy, is claustrophobic and ethereal ... In comparison, 'Sorrows of a Heretic' is cynical and driven by the narrator’s self-loathing. A sense of dread looms in 'The Story of an Unhappy Mother.' A thoughtful and thorough translator’s afterword provides careful analysis of the stories’ shared features. Attributed to both Chambers and McCarthy, it is...an excellent addition ... Longing and Other Stories provides not only three thematically-linked stories to the canon, the afterword also adds an excellent resource of accessible scholarship and close-reading.