This time, Scheherazade spent half an hour in the room. She pulled his notebooks from the drawer and glanced through them. She found a book report and read it. It was on Kokoro, a novel by Soseki Natsume, that summer’s reading assignment. His handwriting was beautiful, as one would expect from a straight-A student, not an error or an omission anywhere. The grade on it was Excellent. What else could it be? Any teacher confronted with penmanship that perfect would automatically give it an Excellent, whether he bothered to read a single line or not.
– Haruki Murakami “SCHEHERAZADE”
It’s rather remarkable how full of suicide Japanese literature is; they tend to romanticize it in much the same way English literature romanticizes love and marriage. Which is to say, a Japanese novel will often end in a climactic suicide of someone close to the protagonist, if not the protagonist himself. So, it strikes me as an astonishingly bad idea to actually require teenagers rapidly approaching the pressure of university entrance exams to not only read these suicide-drenched novels, but write reports on them.
That being said, I did quite like Kokoro, and preferred it to his equally famous I am a Cat.