5 Books Like No Longer Human In Japanese Literature

Japanese Literature

No Longer Human is about a man who hates himself makes terrible choices that have awful consequences. It is a point of view from Yozo, who goes to the different stages of his life dealing with different trauma. He doesn’t know how to have feelings for other people. It makes you wonder how do others feel.

This book gives off major magical realism vibes because it is told that it could happen in real life. The story is surrounded by a teenage boy who runs away from his father because his father cursed him when he was younger by making him kill his father and fall in love with his mom and then his sister. Most of the other characters in this older man are psychotic. Stay with me if you want to read Japanese literature like No Longer Human.

5 Books Like No Longer Human (Japanese Literature)

No Longer Human was the second best-selling novel in Japan. The novel is divided into three parts, known as a memorandum. The first part deals with the childhood trauma that Yozo faced. The second part goes into when he goes into university and meets a painter who becomes his friend. He also becomes one of the main reasons for his descent into drugs and alcohol. In the third memorandum, we follow Yozo as he gets married and does not fill the void he feels even after marriage.

The novel imprints heavily on themes of depression and social anxiety. To understand this book, we first must understand Japanese culture. Japanese people have this thing where you’re supposed to feel part of society, and you are supposed to be included and fit into what you’re supposed to do and your role in society. Now I will review 5 Japanese literature books similar to No Longer Human. Let’s go!

1. Kafka On The Shore

This book came out in 2002, and this copy was translated into English by Philip Gabriel. It follows two alternating storylines. The first is by Kafka Tamura, a 15-year-old boy running away from home to avoid a prophecy. The other is an older man called Nakata, who had this weird accident when he was a child in the war, which made him dumb in his own words. Nakata can also communicate with cats, so that’s cool.

In Greek mythology, there is a prophecy that Oedipus would kill his father and marry his mother. Kafka’s dad puts this prophecy on him when he’s young, which is that he will kill his father and then sleep with his sister and his mother. By super mystical circumstances, he does end up killing his dad. Then, one of the first girls he meets when he runs away turns out to be a sister who gave him a cheeky hand job. It’s magical realism, metaphysical and alternate realities like No Longer Human.

Kafka On The Shore

Author: Haruki Murakami
Average Customer Review: (4.6 out of 5, on Amazon)
Category: Contemporary Fantasy, Magical Realism
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Audio CD

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2. Norwegian Wood

This book came out in 1987 in Japan and was published in English in the year 2000 and was phenomenally popular. Haruki Murakami was a famous author in Japan, putting him on the international stage. It is the story of Toru Watanabe. Also, it takes place mainly as a flashback from him when he’s in his 30s. So he had a strong childhood friend like the only person he ever felt he understood. Who understood him called Kazuki, who killed himself on his 17th birthday with no explanation.

This starts when Toru goes to university in Tokyo when he’s 19 and bears that grief. He gets to know the girlfriend of his best friend, Nalco, who is also struggling with grief and other mental issues. Then there’s another girl called Midori that he meets who has her own set of problems. But they meet at university, and it’s about all of them shouldering grief.

It’s a triangle love story similar to No Longer Human. There’s a lot of perpetuating stereotypes by enforcing gender division. This book was in a letter from Nalco to Watanabe. The central question for them is not whether something is fair, but whether or not it’s beautiful or will make them happy.

Norwegian Wood

Author: Haruki Murakami
Average Customer Review: (4.5 out of 5, on Amazon)
Category: Psychological Fiction
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Library Binding | Kindle | Mass Market Paperback

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3. The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea

It translates into the sailor who betrayed his life of alienation, nihilism, voyaging, and indifference for a sense of belonging and companionship. The sea meant the depths of the darkness of the world. It was only in this darkness that he knew was a point of light for him alone that would draw closer to him to illuminate him someday. That’s the fulfillment in death that Yukio Mishima often speaks about in his books.

In this book, the author writes that the sailor essentially belongs neither to the land nor the sea. Yet, he is tormented with the absurdity of longing for something that he lauds. He becomes very sentimental about harbor towns, and this sadness stems from a neglected part of the self. Noboru turned out to be a fascinating character in the book. He belongs to this group of schoolboys who are equally disturbing, especially the chief of the surreptitious gang.

The chief is a schoolboy who talks about real danger, not physical, but the inevitable outcome of living life. Moreover, strongly bordering on fanaticism, he believes that killing is the only way to fill the world’s great hollows. That’s how they would achieve real power over existence. The cultural aspects and theme are very relatable with No Longer Human.

The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea

Author: Yukio Mishima
Average Customer Review: (4.7 out of 5, on Amazon)
Category: Classic Literature
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Mass Market Paperback

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4. Kokoro

This book reflects the author’s preoccupation with conflicting cultural attitudes transitioning from the late Tokugawa Shogunate to the capitalist, more industrialized, modernized Japan. So you would see during the Meiji restoration beginning in 1868. This period wasn’t marked with bureaucratic, political, and military reforms. These contradictions and cultural tiffs trickled down into people’s personal lives and families. This intensely personal impact of cultural tensions at a personal level is what Suzuki looks at in culture.

Kokoda tells the story of a narrator who sees a man walking down a beach one day. He eventually befriends this man, who we only come to know as Sensei, a teacher. Developing their friendship and growing their relationship forms the first part of this book’s three-part structure. The narrator repeatedly emphasizes his name. The Tae is his innocence, in contrast with the worldliness and the cynicism of Sensei.

Sensei is an exciting man, and he is very guarded. He has few close friends, and he doesn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve. While the innocent young narrator initially sees Sensei as the stereotypical older, wise man. Then he slowly begins to realize as the novel unfolds that it has unique to teach him.


Author: Natsume Soseki
Average Customer Review: (4.5 out of 5, on Amazon)
Category: Asian American Literature
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Mass Market Paperback

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5. Confessions of a Mask

Gay Japanese author Yukio Mishima writes confessions of a Mask. He’s plotting or giving the reader the plot points of his life regarding growing up in Japan and being gay and dealing with his sexuality. As it relates to the author’s own life, he stemmed a lot of his material from his life like that. That has to be undeniably present in this book.

The author went through his school years, not necessarily being bullied, but recognizing the differences in himself regarding his peers. They were attracted to women and girls and him on the other side, and he wasn’t. He was attracted to his peers. He’s struggled with that. Like No Longer Human, the writing was fluid, and lyrical skills were prose and poetry. It was a land mine of literary stimulation.

Confessions of a Mask

Author: Yukio Mishima
Average Customer Review: (4.7 out of 5, on Amazon)
Category: Japanese Literature Fiction
Available: Paperback | Hardcover | Mass Market Paperback

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Pauline Jackson

I like to talk about popular books. My book review inspires you to read and save time. Also, I summarize the book and give you the best lessons or ideas that can change your life. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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