THE BLOG
12/02/2010 03:59 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Japan's Top Lit Translator Comes to NYC: Gangster Fables

I'll have the pleasure of doing a bilingual reading on Thurs. Dec. 9 in New York with my good friend Motoyuki Shibata who is visiting from Japan.

We'll be reading at Kinokuniya Bookstore in Manhattan from my new book of stories Gangster Fables, just published in Japan (exclusively) in Shibata's translation,

Shibata, who teaches at Univeristy of Tokyo, is considered Japan's foremost translator of American lit. A friend and colleague of Haruki Murakami, he edits the influential literary mag Monkey Business.

Shibata will also be discussing the art of translation and other topics with Paul Auster at New York's Asia Society on Tues. Dec. 7.

Gangster Fables is my overheated ensemble of short magical realist riffs on film noir, yakuza pics and gangster actioneering. For Monkey Business I drew up a list of my favorite gangster movies--aesthetic and life (why not?) inspirations. Here they are.

Barry Yourgrau's Top Ten Fave Yakuza/Gangster/Crime Films

Youth of the Beast (Yaju No Seishun) - Seijun Suzuki, director

Delirious aethetics: yellow dust storm! gangsters under cherry
blossoms! hero in shootout while tied to the ceiling!

Battles without Honor and Dignity (Jingi Naki Tatakai) - Kinji
Fukasaku, director

Unrelenting, desperately brutal action, a thrilling existential
jungle of violence and cowardice

Sympathy for the Underdog (Bakuto Gaijin Butai) - Kinji Fukasaku, director

Kinetic filmmaking and super-sized melodramatic characters.

Sonatine - Takeshi Kitano, director

Kitano's best, a unique blend of vicious violence, whimsy, and
spare, inventive film design

La Deuxieme Souffle (A Second Wind) - Jean-Pierre Melville, director

The great Lino Ventura, one of my favorite tough guy heros

Le Trou (The Hole) - Jacques Becker, director

Maybe the best prison film ever, for my money. What an ending!

Get Carter - Mike Hodges, director

Gritty and flavorsome and young Michael Caine makes a great tough guy

Sexy Beast - Jonathan Glazer, director

The great Ray Winstone is the gangster as good guy; the great Ben
Kingsley is the gangster as monster from hell.

Out of the Past - Jacques Tourneur, director

A classic film noir, existential, atmospheric, and haunted by a fatal woman

Point Bank - John Boorman, director

Brutal and brilliant. Like Youth of the Beast at times, only dead
serious. Lee Marvin is another fave tough guy