This is absolutely essential reading to anyone interested in both Japanese literary theory and Victorian-era London.
. . .okay, don't all rush forward at once now.
I never do plot summaries, but I'll give one here: Soseki was a prominent early twentieth century Japanese writer. From 1900 to 1902, he lived in London studying European literature at the behest of the Japanese government. This relatively short collection begins with a series of letters he penned while in London and progresses through other reflections and essays he wrote at increasing temporal distance and with increasing amounts of fictionalization. Meticulous end notes document what's truth and what's fiction and speculate about why he might have chosen to alter various details. The collection ends with a Sherlock Holmes story by another Japanese author, written in the 50s, which includes Soseki as a character--a sort of natural progression from Soseki's highly altered presentation of events in the latter essays.
The writer in me is fascinated by how the collection's structure documents the process of "write what you know" and shows how truth can be cannibalized for fiction; the historian in me appreciates the rare opportunity to read travel writing by an Easterner struggling to comprehend the mysterious and exotic West, rather than the all-to-common reverse. (Rare in English, anyway; I'm sure it's not rare if one reads other languages, but this sort of account doesn't seem to get translated all that often.) And all of me is sad that this book really doesn't have much of an audience, because it was wonderful reading--if you're interested in some very particular things.