Haiku Guy, by David G. Lanoue.
During a haiku conference in New Orleans, a manuscript disappears. As the author Mr. Kusuban threatens to leave the conference, the organizer known as “Poet” and his pet ferret set on to discover the culprit and recover the manuscript during the conference. The ferret has the ability to slip in the Old Japan in his dreams and there, he gets help from famous haiku masters Buck-Teeth (Issa) and buddha himself.
As the plot evolves, we dive into an existing feud between rejected writers and a dictatorial publisher, and a war between haiku clans in Japan, the traditionalists vs the modern haiku writers, who attend the conference but don’t speak to each other.
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For writers not used to reading modern haiku, the haiku recited by Mr. Kusuban at the conference in the novel can cause quite a shock (or a chuckle) as “tower of cellos…” is used as a modern kigo.
The novel features haiku of the highest quality recited by the narrator Poet and other conference attendees. (The true names of the attendees were changed but members of the tightly-knit haiku community will easily identify the real haiku writers behind each characters despite the pseudonym given to them by the author).
This haiku novel does a great job in capturing the atmosphere and activities of a haiku conference (haiku readings, haiku walk, dinner parties). If you’ve never been to a haiku conference, this will give you a good idea of what they are like, and if you’ve attended one before, you’ll feel nostalgic. I especially enjoyed the chapter taking place during a Haiku Death Match (a kind of haiku slam), as I have never attended one of these before and always wondered about how it works. The novel explains it quite well.
Haiku Wars is a fabulous haiku novel by David G. Lanoue. Also recommended: Haiku Guy, by David G. Lanoue.