It is very much like an American literary journal, but a bit larger than the ones I've come across - it's a good 340 pages (for instance, Glimmer Train comes in at a little over 200; Paris Review certainly felt smaller when I held it in my hands at the bookstore a few weeks ago). It has short stories, poetry, serialized parts of longer novels, interviews, and essays. Also, they all have the same type of cover - that of large, scary-looking sculptures of various animals with the same zombie bugged out eyes.
Another cool thing about Bungakukai, especially in comparison to American literary journals, is that it comes out monthly. Not quarterly, or trimester-ly. I have no clue how well these magazines sell or how easy it is find them when in bookstores (I never thought to look for them when I was in Japan) but you would think that they're a bit more popular than our American counterparts.
Here in front of me I have the newest issue, that is, April 2011. There's some interesting stuff here, and a lot of names I recognize. The following is just a small portion of what it has to offer:
- The "headline" so to speak is a new novel(la?) by Yoshimoto Banana called Juujuu ("Sizzle sizzle") - described as taking place at a steak house in Shitamachi. It's advertised as being 200 pages, but takes up only 60 in the journal - but each page has two columns so maybe that translates to 200 regular, paperback sized pages.
- There's also a part of a serialized novel (part 11) by Masahiko Shimada called 傾国子女Keikokushijo （"Prostitute children"?)
- A conversation between Itoi Shigesato (essayist and Earthbound creator!) and Genichiro Takahashi called (maybe this is not what the Japanese is going for, but it sounds right to me, and also hilarious) "To 'Sayonara', or not to 'Sayonara': 30 Years of Japan and After." Described as: "The first dialogue between two people who together washed away the limelight of the '80s and ran through 30 years of Japan." I think this has something (everything) to do with the live tweet marathon Takahashi did at Itoi's office to promote his latest volume of literary criticism called "Sayonara, Japan: Japanese Novels 2."
Still, pretty neat, yeah? Maybe I'll do this again with some of my other volumes. Let me know if any of you out there are even interested.