Mike Miller moves from the US to Japan to work for his company’s Japanese branch. Although he does have prior knowledge of Japanese, there are many situation that leave him puzzled.
Length: 147 pages
ミラーさん is well known in my circle as a frequent character of the Japanese textbook series「みんなの日本語」. This graded reader however establishes him as the main character by following his perspective throughout the events portrayed in the textbook’s dialogues and adding an overarching storyline.
For me personally, this novel was a joy to read. 「みんなの日本語」 was my first Japanese textbook at university and therefore is connected to a lot of nostalgic memories. Of course, this also meant that I was very familiar with both the vocabulary and the scenes depicted, which probably influences my enthusiasm here. There are scenes where it is unfortunately obvious that the original textbook did not connect the episodes at all, so the bridges between them and the added storyline can seem a bit artificial.
If you, like me, have history with the 「みんなの日本語」 textbooks, I can absolutely recommend giving this book a try – simply because of how fast you’ll be able to read it! But even if you didn’t work through these textbooks, I think ミラーさん can be a great first novel for readers with N4 abilities.
All kanji have furigana and idioms and peculiar phrases are indicated below the text in a way that makes them easy to look up. If you used the textbooks, you will need the vocabulary and grammar points from both 「みんなの日本語」1 and 2 as the series introduces the colloquial forms late, which are featured prominently in this novel.
This first novel revolves around Miller-san’s time at the Ōsaka branch of his company and there is also a second book about his time in Tokyo. Check out the first few pages here. Both novels are purchasable via Amazon Japan (affiliate links):