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Pure Invention

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Pure Invention by Matt Alt
Hardcover $28.00
Jun 23, 2020 | ISBN 9781984826695

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“From karaoke to manga, emoji to Pokémon, the creations of modern Japanese style have transformed that country and daily life around the world. Pure Invention is a delightful and highly informed view of the people, ideas, and insights behind this pop-cultural revolution.”—James Fallows, author of China Airborne

Pure Invention is part careful ethnography, part insightful cultural history of the creative men and women who reimagined Japan in the postwar period. Matt Alt tells their backstories and illuminates the impact of their creations, from toy army jeeps stamped out of tin cans in the rubble of World War II to a torrent of anime streamed on Netflix. It’s difficult to imagine a more instructive or entertaining account of a fascinating place, people, and period.”—Stephen Snyder, professor of Japanese studies at Middlebury College and translator of Yoko Ogawa’s The Memory Police

“Hello Kitty and Pikachu didn’t just wander into your house by accident. Maybe they snuck in while you were out crooning karaoke with Super Mario? Intriguing and insightful, Pure Invention hands readers a backdoor key to Japan’s culture trend factory, whose offbeat creators remixed and reimagined the world right under our noses.”—Alfred Birnbaum, translator of Haruki Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
“As startlingly original as the inventions that it describes . . . Required reading for Japanophiles, this book reads like your most interesting anthropology textbook, weaving together interviews, anecdotes, and primary source material about some of Japan’s most iconic creations. . . . People often ask me why, as an American, I’m so interested in Japanese culture. This book finally provides me with an answer.”—Lauren Orsini, Forbes
“The rise of Japanese popular culture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries is an incredible story. Japan conquered hearts and minds with appealing objects and new sensibilities: kawaii characters, digital cultures, and new forms of personal identities. Alt tells this story with verve and panache, giving a comprehensive overview of Japan’s soft power that is informative, enlightening, and always entertaining.”—Susan Napier, professor of Japanese studies at Tufts University and author of Miyazakiworld

“A brilliant cultural survey . . . Alt’s careful history is a reminder of [Japan’s] spirited creativity.”Booklist (starred review)
“Deep, engaging . . . A savvy study of Japan’s wide influence in ways both subtle and profound.”Kirkus Reviews

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