Review of LIVING SPIRIT

The December 2012 issue of the International Journal of Okinawan Studies includes a review of Living Spirit: Literature and Resurgence in Okinawa by Susan Bouterey, associate professor at the University of Canterbury. The following is an excerpt from the review:

If English translations of Okinawan literature are rare, full anthologies in English are rarer still. The first collection of Okinawan literature in English translation, Southern Exposure: Modern Japanese Literature from Okinawa (Michael Molasky and Steve Rabson, eds.) appeared in 2000. This was followed in 2009 by Voices from Okinawa (Frank Stewart and Yamazato Katsunori, eds.), an anthology of literature by Okinawan Americans. Living Spirit, intended as a companion volume to Voices, is the third anthology, and only the second in English translation, to emerge to date. As such, this collection is of immeasurable value. What gives Living Spirit even greater significance is the sheer variety and scope of the collection when compared with its predecessors, and arguably literary anthologies in general. Indeed, this collection could be said to transcend the boundaries prescribed by the term “literature,” even in its broader application. For in Living Spirit, not only do we find English translations of typical examples of literary works such as poetry, fiction, drama and essays by Okinawan writers, but also translations of ancient Okinawan shaman and folk songs and, interspersed throughout, the remarkable images of the ancient and sacred Ryūkyūan rituals and festivals captured in the lens of photographer Higa Yasuo. Together, these present a rich, multifarious view of Okinawa via which the reader can acquire a more complex, global appreciation than would otherwise be possible of the creative works, cultural traditions, and spiritual life of the Okinawan people and the many facets of Okinawa’s past and present.

Our warmest thanks to Professor Bouterey for her remarks and insights.

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