Night on the Milky Way Train (and nine other stories)
by Kenji Miyazawa
Translated from the Japanese by Roger Pulvers.
Night on the Milky Way Train occupies the place in the literature of Japan that Alice in Wonderland does in the English-speaking world. This amazing story of two boys – Kenji named them Giovanni and Campanella – who find themselves on a miraculous train running through the heavens, has entranced Japanese readers for many years. What happens to the boys is a tale of both immense sorrow and equally immense hope.
In addition, Pulvers offers nine other translations, all of them appearing in print outside Japan for the first time. The comical character Gauche, whose cello playing soothes the animals at his humble little cottage. The two hunters who find the tables literally turned on them as they are about to be served up to the animals they have been hunting. The pig at the Frandon Agricultural School who refuses to die. The nighthawk who, rejected by the other birds, chooses immortality in the form of a star … and more.
Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933) has been compared to Lewis Carroll, Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm. But his profound compassion, stemming from his Buddhist faith and his scientific background, makes him that unique combination of East and West that symbolises Japan’s great gifts to the world. A dedicated vegetarian (a rarity even in today’s Japan) and a staunch believer in animal rights mark him as a pioneer of his time and a writer who speaks directly to the greatest concerns of the twenty-first century.
In his Afterword, Pulvers writes …
In so many ways, Kenji Miyazawa was a twenty-first-century author born in the nineteenth century, a supernova that exploded in 1933. The light may be just reaching us now.
This is a book that will excite, enchant and enlighten readers around the world who, until now, have not had access to these astonishing and beautifully translated stories.
‘Roger Pulvers has translated Kenji’s Japanese in the most dramatic style and with a poetic intensity that fully recreates the author’s cosmic thrills.’—Yasunari Takahashi, author, translator, professor at the University of Tokyo
(CONTENTS: Night on the Milky Way Train, Gauche the Cellist, The Restaurant of Many Orders, The Magnolia Tree, Indra’s Net, Obbel and the Elephant, The Life of Budory Goosko, The Frandon Agricultural School Pig, Snow Crossing, The Nighthawk Star)
Publication date: 30 March 2020
Format: Paperback (Demy octavo) 216mm x 138mm
Pages: 186 pp
Cover illustration by Alice Pulvers