A short but intense psychological ride. Sam Bett has given the book a colloquial translation that powerfully evokes a mood of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Kiri Falls, Japan News

Yukio Mishima

Yukio Mishimia (1925–1970) was many people. The best known in Japan of the writers to emerge there after World War II, he was by far the most published abroad. Mishima completed his first novel the year he entered the University of Tokyo. More followed (some twenty-three, the last completed the day of his death on November 25, 1970), along with more than forty plays, over ninety short stories, several poetry and travel volumes, hundreds of essays, and one film (Patriotism). Influenced by European literarture, in which he was exceptionally well read, he was an interpreter to his own people of Japan’s ancient virtues, to which he urged a return. He was a strict disciplinarian and undertook a rigid bodybuilding and martial arts regime. He seemed at the height of his career and vitality at the age of forty-five, when after a demonstration in the public interest he commited suicide by ceremonial seppuku.

cover image of the book 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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cover image of the book Death In Midsummer

Death In Midsummer

Here are nine of Mishima’s finest stories, personally selected by the Japanese writer himself; they represent his extraordinary ability to depict, with deftness and penetration, a wide variety of human beings during significant moments. His characters are geisha who request wishes from the moon, sophisticates who scorn yet follow tradition, and seppuku-committing soldiers and their loyal wives who follow them in death. This edition includes one of Mishima’s “modern Noh plays,” remarkable for its uncanny intensity. The English versions have been done by five outstanding translators: Donald Keene, Meredith Weatherby, Ivan Morris, Geoffrey Sargent, and Edward Seidensticker.

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cover image of the book Confessions Of A Mask

Confessions Of A Mask

Confessions of a Mask tells the story of Kochan, an adolescent boy tormented by his burgeoning attraction to men: he wants to be “normal.” Kochan is meek-bodied and unable to participate in the more athletic activities of his classmates. He begins to notice his growing attraction to some of the boys in his class, particularly the pubescent body of his friend Omi. To hide his homosexuality, he courts a woman, Sonoko, but this exacerbates his feelings for men. As news of the war reaches Tokyo, Kochan considers the fate of Japan and his place within its deeply rooted propriety. Confessions of a Mask reflects Mishima’s own coming of age in post-war Japan. Its publication in English – praised by Gore Vidal, James Baldwin, and Christopher Isherwood – propelled the young Yukio Mishima to international fame.

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cover image of the book Patriotism


By now, Yukio Mishima’s (1925-1970) dramatic demise through an act of seppuku after an inflammatory public speech has become the stuff of literary legend. With Patriotism, Mishima was able to give his heartwrenching patriotic idealism an immortal vessel. Shinji Takeyama, a lieutenant in the Japanese army, comes home to his wife and informs her that his closest friends have become mutineers. Torn between his allegiances to the Emperor and his rebellious friends, Shinji and his beautiful, loyal wife Reiko decide to end their lives together. With an incredible eye for detail, Mishima describes Shinji and Reiko making love for the last time and the ritual suicide by seppuku that follows.

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A short but intense psychological ride. Sam Bett has given the book a colloquial translation that powerfully evokes a mood of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Kiri Falls, Japan News

Mishima’s glitzy melange of playboy paranoia and heartthrob ennui cracks the proverbial 15 minutes wide open, spilling all the juicy details regarding fawning sycophants, monotonous re-shoots, and the anesthetizing effect of prolonged exposure to the limelight. Death-haunted and contemptuous, Star is a sneering “up yours” to celebrity and fanaticism depicted in panoramic decadence — though, notably, nowhere is its critique more biting than when gazing at its own fractured reflection. A rain-slick melodrama dripping with bored excess, this is a pocket guide for the sexy and disaffected.


Star, the novella Mishima published in 1960, is now open to rediscovery thanks to an adroit, colloquial translation into American English by Sam Bett. It offers us a snapshot of a twenty-three-year-old, up-and-coming movie star, Rikio Mizuno. In Star, the world of film is, it seems, all artifice, both on and off screen, a world where everyone dons masks as a service to public tastes and desires while peering into mirrors of narcissistic self-regard. Literary genius

The Times Literary Supplement (London)

An exquisite contemplation of existence and death, and Mishima’s prose is extremely powerful and the translation finely executed.

Los Angeles Review of Books

Star, translated from Japanese by Sam Bett, is a strange, avant-garde novella following a young actor who [receives] the kind of attention that could drive any person slowly insane.

Thrillist "Best Books of 2019"

Enormously relevant

Spectrum Culture

Written shortly after Mishima himself starred in the yakuza-centered Afraid to Die, his slim novella—smoothly translated into English for the first time by prize-winning Sam Bett—is a raw, scathing examination of fame.


Mishima is famous both for writing and for dying. Or, strictly, for attempting hara-kiri. Perhaps surprising, then, is that Star is about shooting a blockbuster: not an Ozu or a Mizoguchi but a cheap Yakuza flick. Mishima himself starred in Afraid to Die, Yukoku, Black Lizard, and Hitokiri and knew first-hand his subject the vapidity of fame. Startling, is its lack of artifice: yielding grace from pulp.

3:AM Magazine

This pitch-perfect novella from Yukio Mishima tells the story of a young film star disenchanted with the trappings of fame. Drawing on his own experiences as an actor, Mishima’s Star is a stunning addition to the oeuvre of one of postwar Japan’s greatest storytellers.

WSJ Magazine

This 1961 novel is finally getting the translation it has so long deserved. The psychologically complex story of Rikio Mizuno, young star of a series of gangster films, is based in part on Mishima’s own experiences as an actor. This is a landmark novel of 20th century Japan, and you no longer have to learn Japanese to read it.

Barnes and Noble

Mishima was one of literature’s great romantics.

Jay McInerney, The New York Times

There may be no writer more autobiographical than Yukio Mishima. He resembles Céline and Genet, writers who were not political writers but who were working out the crisis of being alive, the crisis of experience itself. That’s precisely the way it is transcendent—it goes beyond the visible world into a world in which being alive makes sense.

Philip Glass

One of Japan’s greatest novelists.

The Economist

A palpable energy of brilliance and wit.

The Believer

In Confessions of a Mask a literary artist of delicate sensibility and startling candor has chosen to write for the few rather than the many.

The New York Times

Mishima is like Stendhal in his precise psychological analyses, like Dostoevsky in his explorations of darkly destructive personalities.

Christian Science Monitor
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