Japan’s best-selling fiction of 2016

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2017/02/10 News

Japan’s best-selling fiction of 2016

The ten best-selling works of fiction* in Japan from November 27, 2015 through November 25, 2016 were:

1. Kimi no suizō o tabetai (I Want to Eat Your Pancreas)
by Yoru Sumino (Futabasha, 2015) ISBN 978-4575239058
This book that started out as an upload to the self-publishing site Shōsetsuka ni narō (Become a Novelist) was picked up by a publisher and turned into a huge hit. After taking second place in the annual Booksellers Award balloting, it continues to generate buzz and sales remain strong more than a year after publication. A film adaptation is scheduled for release in the summer of 2017. A socially awkward high-school boy and the most popular girl in his class find a connection, and in the course of events, an indissoluble bond develops between them.

2. Hitsuji to Hagane no Mori (A Forest of Wool and Steel)
by Natsu Miyashita (Bungeishunju, 2015) ISBN 978-4163902944
This title took the top spot in the Booksellers Award balloting and became the author’s biggest hit to date. A young man from a depopulated village in Hokkaido decides to pursue a career as a piano tuner after high school. Under the watchful eyes of several tuners with more experience, the protagonist overcomes a series of difficulties as he learns the ways of his chosen trade and the world. It is an exemplar among exemplars of the psychological coming-of-age story.

3. Konbini ningen (Convenience Store Woman)
by Sayaka Murata (Bungeishunju, 2016) ISBN 978-4163906188
Winner of the Akutagawa Prize for the first half of the year. Numerous media appearances in which the author talked about her own experiences paralleling those of the protagonist stoked public interest in this story about a woman who has held onto the same part-time convenience store job for 18 years, since first starting college. Having always been considered a little bit odd as she grew up, the woman finds both comfort and purpose in the clearly prescribed interactions of her job as a clerk, and the store becomes her own personal “door to the world.”

4. Hibana (Sparks)
by Naoki Matayoshi (Bungeishunju, 2015) ISBN 978-4163902302
This winner of the Akutagawa Prize for the first half of 2015 went on to become that year’s No. 1 bestseller, and continued to enjoy strong sales throughout 2016. While tracing the master-disciple relationship between two minor comedians, the story delves philosophically into the nature of humor and the artist’s life in a way that has struck a chord with a broad segment of the reading public.

5. Mata, onaji yume o miteita (I Had the Same Dream Again)
by Yoru Sumino (Futabasha, 2016) ISBN 978-4575239454
This sophomore effort by the author who made a smashing debut with Kimi no suizō o tabetai in 2015 (see #1) became another big hit. The story centers on a girl who has no friends at school but has three perfectly good friends and a beloved cat away from school. It traces her formative years and her search for happiness with heartwarming detail.

6. Kōhī ga samenai uchi ni (Before the Coffee Gets Cold)
by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (Sanmaku Shuppan, 2015) ISBN 978-4763135070
A collection of four stories by a playwright making his fiction debut. When you sit at a certain table in the coffee shop Funiculì Funiculà, you can travel back in time to any point you choose in the past—but only for as long as your coffee is still warm. Four stirring miracles take place in this special shop.

7. Kaeru no rakuen (The Paradise of Frogs)
by Naoki Hyakuta (Shinchosha, 2016) ISBN 978-4103364122
A best-selling author offers a cautionary tale to the nation in the form of a fable. Tree frogs Socrates and Roberto escape danger and set off in search of paradise. They arrive in a land where the population of wrinkled frogs lives in prosperity and peace, but then a major incident leads to a national crisis.

8. Rikuō (Land King)
by Jun Ikeido (Shueisha, 2016) ISBN 978-4087716191
The latest novel by a perennially popular author who churns out one bestseller after another. The fourth-generation president of a century-old maker of tabi socks (for use with traditional split-toed footwear) stakes the flagging fortunes of his company on entering the market for high-end running shoes. With a thrill-filled plot mixing business intrigue and sports, the author does not disappoint.

9. Kiken na Bīnasu (Dangerous Venus)
by Keigo Higashino (Kodansha, 2016) ISBN 978-4062202404
The latest by another regular on Japan’s annual bestseller lists. Veterinarian Hakurō Teshima has a half-brother nine years his junior named Akito Yagami, who is heir to the wealthy Yagami family fortunes. Akito is working as an IT engineer in Seattle when his wife sends word that he has disappeared. The deft storytelling of a master keeps the pages turning.

10. Ningyo no nemuru ie (The House Where the Mermaid Sleeps)
by Keigo Higashino (Gentosha, 2015) ISBN 978-4344028500
A moving drama portraying the struggles of a family whose six-year-old daughter is left in a vegetative state following a freak swimming pool accident. Refusing to let her be declared brain-dead so that her organs can be offered for transplant, her parents cling to the faint hope of recovery and devote themselves to her care. An author better known for best-selling detective fiction grapples head-on with the handling of organ transplants in Japan.

* As reported by Japan’s largest book distributor, Tohan Corporation