When this book was first published in 1962, it was widely hailed by critics in Japan and the West as one of the finest, most comprehensive collections of modern Japanese short stories in English translation. The volume clearly reveals the qualities of Japanese literature that have helped earn writer Mishima, Tanizaki, and Kawabata international reputation and have made Japanese literature highly valued for what it teaches about Japan, the human condition, and the possibilities of art. Modern Japanese fiction has been strongly influenced by the West, and yet in only a century, the Japanese literary genius has been able to mold this outside influence into new and distinctly Japanese forms. The volume's twenty-five stories, by many authors, display a wide range of styles and subject matter. Some go back to China and Japan for their themes and settings Other address modern universal problems. Collectively, the stories give a remarkably revealing picture of the modern Japanese mind.
Accompanying the stories are twenty-five woodcuts by the Japanese illustrator Kuwata Masakazu. The anthology also contains a critical introduction by the editor tracing the development of modern Japanese fiction, introductory paragraphs to each story giving information about eh author and the story's cultural context, and a bibliography of modern Japanese fiction in English translation.