Shiki Nagaoka: A Nose for Fiction 2nd Edition
by Mario Bellatin
translated from the Spanish by David Shook
Release Date: November 15, 2017
Mario Bellatin's playful biography of the most influential and largest-nosed obscure Japanese writer of the last century, Shiki Nagaoka, has proven to be so popular that it is now being reissued by Phoneme Media. With this book, Bellatin succeeded in sparking a huge and richly deserved modern resurgence of interest in Nagaoka's life and work. New fans of the Japanese writer, dubbed "Nagaokites" in the worldwide press, have propelled this book to heights as fabulous and ethereal as the actual writer himself. In it, Bellatin recounts with an almost paternal air Nagaoka's early life, including his failed first attempt at love, his decision to enter the monastic life, and his family’s disavowal of him. He also contextualizes Nagaoka's untranslatable and nearly impossible to find masterwork, Photos and Words, his early use of narrative photography, and describes his ineffable influence on other important world artists, including writers Juan Rulfo, José María Arguedas, Tanizaki Junichiro, and filmmaker Yasujirô Ozu.
“…one of the leading voices in experimental Spanish-language fiction.” —New York Times
“Mario Bellatin has indisputably become one of the literary stars of the Latin American scene.” —Radar Libros (Argentina)
“One of the most original figures of recent Latin American fiction.” —ABC (Spain)
“Bellatin’s unusual narrative world doesn’t need to exceed the conventional limits of the short novel in order to take possession of mind of the reader, who’s left seduced by the turbid and convulsive beauty of his stories.” —El País (Spain)
"... what we have here is a biography based on a fiction and supported by documentary evidence known to have been falsified but which is, nonetheless, the central character’s last defense against being remembered as an invention. This elaborate play is all the more effective for its presentation in Bellatin’s understated prose. Shook does an excellent job of preserving his crisp, deadpan delivery while still allowing the reader to sense the occasional smile twitch at the corners of his mouth." -Heather Cleary
Mario Bellatin has published dozens of novellas on major and minor publishing houses in Latin America, Europe, and the United States. His English-language translations include Beauty Salon (City Lights, 2010) and Chinese Checkers: Three Fictions (Ravenna Press, 2009). His current projects include Los Cien Mil Libros de Bellatin, his own imprint dedicated to publishing 1,000 copies each of 100 of his books.
David Shook is a poet and writer in Los Angeles, where he edits Molossus and Phoneme Media. His debut collection Our Obsidian Tongues is available from Eyewear Publishing.
Cover art by Zsu Szkurka