In the opening of the book, Banteki is trying to sell audio recordings that he has made of Osaka residents in their more intimate moments. Much to his annoyance, one particularly juicy moment is wrecked because the woman in question had a tendency to whistle through her teeth at strange times. Another tape is not what it should be because the couple leaves the radio on so that all the would-be pornographers can hear are commercials for anti-nausea medication. Although disappointed, his buyer Subuyan is philosophical about it-- he believes that the tapes are still realistic, and it is realism that is the key to successful pornography.
With this opening, the reader is introduced to a dark and quirky novel which explores themes as diverse as sexual anthropology, fidelity, tradition and craftsmanship. Subuyan as the defender of the everyman of porn and Banteki as the misunderstood artist are cleverly drawn characters who are more memorable for their naļveté than their seediness. The Pornographers is an engaging and well-written book which makes its points deftly and with an arch sense of humor.
The Gallagher translation seems fine to me as a reader. At least, it read smoothly and I was not lost in parts of the text that I imagine a non-Japanese reader could get lost in. The reading experience is not complete-- I think that I miss a lot as a reader so much later and in such a different culture, but there are enough common areas to keep it interesting.
Recommended for fans of dark fiction or the modern Japanese novel. As is probably obvious, despite the sweetness it has some very adult material as a subject and is probably not a good book for younger readers.