Sam Bett

Translator of Star

Sam Bett

Sam Bett is a fiction writer and Japanese translator. His translation of Yukio Mishima’s Star won the 2019–2020 Japan–U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature.

cover image of the book The Flowers of Buffoonery

The Flowers of Buffoonery

by Osamu Dazai

Translated by Sam Bett

The Flowers of Buffoonery opens in a seaside sanitarium where Yozo Oba — the narrator of No Longer Human— is convalescing after a failed suicide attempt. Friends and family visit him, and nurses and police drift in and out of his room. Against this dispiriting backdrop, Yozo and his visitors try to maintain a lighthearted, even clownish atmosphere: playing cards, smoking cigarettes, vying for attention, cracking jokes, and trying to make each other laugh. Dazai is known for delving into the darkest corners of human consciousness, but in The Flowers of Buffoonery he pokes fun at these same emotions: the follies and hardships of youth, of love, and of self-hatred and depression. A glimpse into the lives of a group of outsiders in prewar Japan, The Flowers of Buffoonery is a fresh and darkly humorous addition to Osamu Dazai’s masterful and intoxicating oeuvre.

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cover image of the book Star

Star

by Yukio Mishima

Translated by Sam Bett

All eyes are on Rikio. And he likes it, mostly. His fans cheer, screaming and yelling to attract his attention—they would kill for a moment alone with him. Finally the director sets up the shot, the camera begins to roll, someone yells “action”; Rikio, for a moment, transforms into another being, a hardened young yakuza, but as soon as the shot is finished, he slumps back into his own anxieties and obsessions.

Being a star, constantly performing, being watched and scrutinized as if under a microscope, is often a drag. But so is life. Written shortly after Yukio Mishima himself had acted in the film “Afraid to Die,” this novella is a rich and unflinching psychological portrait of a celebrity coming apart at the seams. With exquisite, vivid prose, Star begs the question: is there any escape from how we are seen by others?

Translated from the Japanese by Sam Bett

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