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MOTHER OF DREAMS And Other Short Stories edited by Makoto Ueda (Kodansha: $6.95)

December 17, 1989|CHARLES SOLOMON

This anthology examines the changes that the 20th Century has brought to the five roles women traditionally have filled in Japanese society: maiden, wife, mistress, mother, working woman. Increasing numbers of women are no longer content with these restricted lives: The devious schemer in Matsumoto Seicho's "Wait a Year and a Half" hides her aggressive personality behind the meek facade of a submissive wife. The central character in Nagai Kafa's "Nude" reveals that in postwar Japan, a woman may become a mistress (euphemistically termed "a flower in the shade") through personal choice, rather than economic necessity. An intriguing look at a rapidly evolving society through the eyes of some of its finest literary observers.

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