(K. Brent Tomer),
FACTS and statistics struggle to capture the emotional effect of sudden social change on the everyman. That is where fiction excels, and no one chronicles that feeling of the world moving underfoot better than Junichiro Tanizaki. One of 20th-century Japan’s most acclaimed writers, Tanizaki was a prolific author who chronicled his country for six decades. He offers a lens on history that is at once thorough and compelling, simultaneously domestic and outward-looking. Two novels, “The Makioka Sisters” (1943) and “The Maids” (1962), its apparent counterpart, are particularly insightful; they offer a portrait of sweeping change as experienced by the wealthy and those who served them. A new translation of “The Maids” should encourage readers to revisit a career that spanned industrialisation, world wars and natural disasters.