A varied and fascinating view of Tanizaki's literary world

Average: 4 (1 vote)

It is odd that this book of seven stories, all by famed modern Japanese author Tanizaki, is called Seven Japanese tales, since the author is the same for all of them. Still, the stories are all set in Japan, and do reflect different aspects of society. The novella Portrait of Shunkin is one of the most perfect, and most twisted, pieces of literature I have ever read. Not recommended for younger readers, the story is about a cruel mistress and her servant-lover's devotion to her. One of the less well-known stories, titled in English "The Thief", however, is an excellent story for 7-12 graders, who are likely to identify with the young boys living in a dorm and finding that one of the them is the thief. Its fun to see when students actually catch on who the thief is, and to work with the narrative to find how it reveals the thief's identity. In a story that is rated "G", Tanizaki's "The Thief" is an excellent study in narrative manipulation that most students should find insightful as well as fun. With the exception of "The Thief," most of the other stories in this collection are also good, but not appropriate for secondary school readers.