Over 1,300 years, Japanese writers have created one of the most subtle and delicate of the world's literatures, from 17-syllable haiku poems to the surreal fictions of the contemporary novelist Haruki Murakami. Now the country's literary culture is under siege from that most ubiquitous and modern of devices: the mobile phone.

For the first time, Japan's fiction bestseller list is dominated by books published, read and, in several cases, written on mobile telephones, most of them by young women in their 20s. The rise


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