Tokyo, Japan

New Release: ‘The Chronicles of Lord Asunaro’, a tale of legacy, dynasties and birthrights, by Kanji Hanawa

Cover of The Chronicles of Lord Asunaro by Kanji Hanawa published 1 January 2020 in the critically acclaimed series of short Japanese books Red Circle Minis.
The Chronicles of Lord Asunaro, a Japanese tale – not about daring ninja or battling samurai – but a hero with a very different penchant, by the Akutagawa Prize-nominated master short story writer Hanji Hanawa, will be published on 1 January 2020. 

The Chronicle of Lord Asunaro is being published as part of Red Circle Minis, a series of short captivating books by Japan’s finest contemporary writers that brings the narratives and voices of Japan together as never before. Each book is a first edition written specifically for the series and is being published in English first. 

Based on an actual historical figure,  Hanawa, takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery, as Lord Asunaro inherits his own Japanese fiefdom and grapples with his role and ultimate legacy. Hanawa provides us with an unusual and entertaining perspective on the psychology of change within Japan when it was still ruled by its men of steel, samurai and shoguns. 

As Japan emerges from the conflict-ridden era dominated by infamous warlords into a golden age of plenty, a young lord – heir to a vast domain and incumbent ruler of all he surveys – lives deep within a spiralling castle. 

From the pen of Hanawa, this cleverly spun tale features our young Lord Asunaro, a ‘warlord’ who doesn’t fit the brave samurai stereotype, as he faces a modernising world where learning now outvalues military prowess. Carrying the legacy of his bloodline, he is compelled to find his place among the great figures of his ancestors. 

Hanawa’s charming story, The Chronicles of Lord Asunaro is translated by Meredith McKinney, and takes the reader back to life and leadership in feudal Japan – while also exploring universal themes of legacy, inheritance, expectations, the weight of history and the psychology of change.

To order The Chronicles of Lord Asunaro please click here.

The Author:

Kanji Hanawa is a master of the short story. He has written several hundred since he published his first collection, Garasu no natsu (Glass Summer) to critical acclaim in 1972.  In 1962, after graduating from Tokyo University, where he studied French Literature, he spent a few months in Paris, his only stay in the county to whose literature he has dedicated much of his life. 

Hanawa is the author of Backlight, which The Japan Times described as ‘an important work of social commentary doing what all the greatest short stories do: opening a rabbit hole of thought down which the reader will fall.’

The Translator:

Meredith McKinney has translated numerous works of Japanese literature, from the earliest poetry to contemporary fiction. Among them are classics such as The Pillow Book, as well as Natsume Soseki’s early modern masterpiece Kokoro, and an anthology of a thousand years of classical Japanese travel writing (Travels with a writing Brush). She lives in the bush outside the small town of Braidwood in New South Wales.

  The Series: 

What the reviewers are saying about Red Circle Minis:

‘Small books for big brains’

‘Beautiful pocket-sized slices of Japanese literature’

‘An incredible window into the zeitgeist of modern Japanese society’

Display of the first three books published in the series Red Circle Minis. Photograph: Red Circle Authors Limited
  • RedCircle
    About Red Circle:
    Red Circle Authors Limited is a specialist publishing and communications company that conducts bespoke projects on behalf of a carefully selected and curated group of leading Japanese authors. Red Circle showcases Japan’s best creative writing. For more information on Red Circle, Japanese literature, and Red Circle authors please visit:
    • Kanji Hanawa
      About Kanji Hanawa:
      Kanji Hanawa, a former professor of French literature is a master of the shorty story. He wrote hundreds and dedicated his life to writing short stories and novella about life in ancient, modern and contemporary Japan. Two of his short stories have been shortlisted for the prestigious Akutagawa Literary Prize. Hanawa’s tales reflect a deep interest in human psychology and complex relationships – whose narratives expose the pressures and challenges of life in Japan.