Fiction created by and for the working class emerged worldwide in the early twentieth century as a response to rapid modernization, dramatic inequality, and imperial expansion. In Japan, literary youth, men and women, sought to turn their imaginations and craft to tackling the ensuing injustices, with results that captured both middle-class and worker-farmer readers. This anthology is a landmark introduction to Japanese proletarian literature from that period.
Contextualized by introductory essays, forty expertly translated stories touch on topics like perilous factories, predatory bosses, ethnic discrimination, and the myriad indignities of poverty. Together, they show how even intensely personal issues form a pattern of oppression. Fostering labor consciousness as part of an international leftist arts movement, these writers, lovers of literature, were also challenging the institution of modern literature itself. This anthology demonstrates the vitality of the “red decade” long buried in modern Japanese literary history.