by Medoruma Shun


In the Woods of Memory is the masterpiece of Okinawa’s Akutagawa Prize-winning novelist, Shun Medoruma. A riveting tale of war, rape, revenge, trauma, and memory, the novel also manages to be a beautiful and heart-warming story about love, respect for one’s enemies, and the need to learn from history. As William Faulkner did for American literature, Medoruma challenges the limits of Japanese literature through his innovative narrative techniques, thought-provoking themes, and use of local language.

May 1945. The Battle of Okinawa still rages in the south, but the north is under US control. There, on a small island off the coast, a young woman is violently raped by four Americans. When the soldiers return to rape more women, the unarmed men of the village are too scared to do anything. But one courageous young fisherman decides to fight back. . . .

Sixty years later, those involved in that tragedy are forced to face their traumatic memories. Narrations through nine points of view, Japanese and Americans, from 1945 to the present day reveal the full complexity of the event and how war trauma ripples through the generations.

  • To order, go to the relevant Amazon site:

Amazon US: In the Woods of Memory

Amazon Japan: In the Woods of Memory

Amazon UK: In the Woods of Memory

  • You can read a revised version of my Translator's Preface and the entire first chapter here:

The Asia-Pacific Journal:
Japan Focus

  • Here are some online reviews of the book:

Review from the
Japan Times

Review from
Foreward Reviews

Review from
Lost in Translation

Review from
Cultured Vultures

Review from It’s a Wonderful Rife

Review from
Black Warrior Review

Review from
The Literary Review: An International Journal of Contemporary Writing

Review from
World Literature Today

Review from
Colorado Review

Review from
Nichi Bei

  • For a more thorough analysis of the novel, with a plot summary, character list, and discussion of themes, see the following page on my Okinawan literature site:

Reading Okinawa:
Me no oku no mori

About the Japanese original:


JAPANESE TEXT: Medoruma, Shun. Me no oku no mori [In the Woods of Memory]. Tokyo: Kageshobō, 2009.

Me no oku no mori [In the Woods of Memory] was originally published in twelve installments in the quarterly Zenya from Fall 2004 through Summer 2007.

Here are some reviews of the novel in Japanese:

Review by
Yoshiaki Yoshikawa, which also appears in Shōsetsu Tripper, Fall 2009.

Review by
Satatoshi Ōshiro, which appeared in the Ryūkyū Shinpō, 23 August 2009.

Kageshobo, the Japanese publisher, released a new edition (with a new cover) in May 2017.

Numerous Japanese reviews of the novel are also available on Kageshobos page for the novel: