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54 World literature today reviews one of Germany’s most significant literary voices, delius won the prestigious Georg Büchner Prize in 2011, but he remains inexplicably unknown in the english-speaking world. like many writers of his generation, delius has taken twentieth -century German history as his primary subject. in works like Der Sonntag, an dem ich Weltmeister wurde (1994; the day i became world champion) and Mein Jahr als Mörder (2004; My year as a murderer ), he combines autobiography and documentary to explore the connections between personal lives and political events: we experience West Germany’s celebrated soccer victory in the 1954 World Cup through the perspective of an eleven-year-old boy; and a young university student describes his quest for justice in contemplating the murder of a former Nazi judge in 1968. Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman, currently delius’s only work readily available in english, follows this model by presenting a highly subjective , eyewitness account that sheds light on the complexities of history. Jamie Bulloch’s excellent translation renders the novella’s single sentence entirely readable in english, and we follow it breathlessly to its final clause, on page 119, where Margarethe resolves to record what she has seen that day “and to relate it all to her beloved far away in africa, today if possible, after supper, in a long letter.” With this final period, the narrative brings us full circle, suggesting the way that the letter, written by delius’s mother to his father shortly before his birth, formed the basis for the author’s own imaginative account of this historical day. Hester D. Baer University of Oklahoma Digital Geishas and Talking Frogs: The Best 21st Century Stories from Japan. Helen Mitsios, ed. Pico Iyer, intro. Boston. Cheng & Tsui. 2011. ISBN 9780887277924 in 1991 the gods of publishing granted fiction lovers a boon: two anthologies of newly translated contemporary Japanese fiction—alfred Birnbaum’s Monkey Brain Sushi and Helen Mitsios’s New Japanese Voices . Now Mitsios returns with a second collection: cause for celebration, immediate ordering, immersion in these thirteen worlds of Story, and then . . . unease. upon reading these stories, two things struck me. First, their exceptional level of craft. as short fiction, they are as well wrought as any i’ve read in years. Second, their despair. in Noboru tsujihara’s “My Slightly Crooked Brooch,” we experience the repressed despair of Mizue, whose husband, ryō, casually informs her of a yearlong affair with a college student he now wants to live with during her last month in tokyo. in Masahiko Shimada’s “the diary of a Mummy,” we feel the dejection in its day-by-day account of an anonymous man who seeks to “reverse the insignificance of [his] life” by starving himself to death. this despair seems born of anonymity and aimlessness. each of the young men and women who, in tomoyuki Hoshino’s story, form “the No Fathers Club” (“We admitted only those whose fathers truly didn’t exist in this world . . .”) is not merely filling a family void: they’re trying to create a self. devoid of passion, raised “in aimless plenty,” their days “[overflowing] with leisure ,” they can connect only through shared artifice: “the idea was to pretend we really had fathers every second of every day, leaving no room for sharing feelings.” even the gangs of unemployed youth in ira ishida’s “ikebukuro West Gate Park” spend most of their time on a bench, “[j]ust sitting there idly, waiting for something to happen. there’s nothing for us to do today, and no plans for tomorrow either.” it takes the depredations of a serial killer to give them a purpose, however transient, a shared effort that ends in tragedy. this pervasive tonality differs strikingly from that of the 1991 anthologies. But then, the authors in those collections wrote mainly during Japan’s boom times; the writers in Digital Geishas saw the energy and growth of that period end in collapse. during the ensuing “lost decade” of Marcel Beyer Kaltenburg Alan Bance, tr. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Based loosely on the life of Konrad Lorenz, a renowned zoologist in the GDR, Kaltenburg engages the reader...