Not so big in Japan

There’s an interesting piece in the New York Times today about the fact that chick lit is not just an Anglo-American phenomenon; chick lit authors are emerging in unexpected places, like India, Hungary and Poland. While I’m starting to worry about the implications of chick lit here in the U.S., i.e. that it’s getting harder for women to publish unless they are writing some form of chick lit, in some of these other countries, the idea of chick lit marks an expanded set of freedoms for women, both socially and sexually.

What I found most interesting, however, was that chick lit hasn’t taken off in Japan:

“Nor is chick lit terribly popular in Japan, where women lean toward
weepy adolescent love stories or darker literary fiction that deals
with the “isolation and the meaninglessness of modern urban life;
boredom and frustration with men and relationships and marriage, and
the constraints put on women in Japanese society,” according to Hamish
Macaskill, a literary agent in Tokyo.”

Who knew?
In a country where cute cartoon creatures like Hello Kitty are popular even among adult women, you’d have thought maybe there would have been an attraction to Bridget Jones-like storylines. I must say, I rather prefer to think about women as living in the “isolation and meaningless of modern urban life” rather than in the perpetual self-criticisms, struggles with weight, alcohol, boys, and shopping that pop up in chick lit, albeit among best girlfriends, pets, and phone calls from mothers. Maybe Japanese women have a better grip on reality. Maybe I am just cynical.


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