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A brilliant depiction of an unusual psyche and a world hidden from view, Convenience Store Woman is an ironic and sharp-eyed look at contemporary work culture and the pressures to conform, as well as a charming and completely fresh portrait of an unforgettable heroine.
The Little House is set in the early years of the Showa era (1926-89), when Japan's situation is becoming increasingly tense but has not yet fully immersed in a wartime footing. On the outskirts of Tokyo, near a station on a private train line, stands a modest European style house with a red, triangular shaped roof. There a woman named Taki has worked as a maidservant in the house and lived with its owners, the Hirai family. Now, near the end of her life, Taki is writing down in a notebook her nostalgic memories of the time spent living in the house. Her journal captures the refined middle-class life of the time from her gentle perspective. At the end of the novel, however, a startling final chapter is added. The chapter brings to light, after Taki's death, a fact not described in her notebook. This suddenly transforms the world that had been viewed through the lens of a nostalgic memoir, so that a dramatic, flesh-and-blood story takes shape. Nakajima manages to combine skillful dialogue with a dazzling ending. The result is a polished, masterful work fully deserving of the Naoki Prize.
If we want to understand what has been lost to time, there is no way other than through the exercise of imagination ... imagination applied with delicate rather than broad strokes.
So wrote the award winning Japanese author Kyoko Nakajima of her story, Things Remembered and Things Forgotten, a piece that illuminates, as if by throwing a switch, the layers of wartime devastation that lie just below the surface of Tokyo's insistently modern culture.
The ten acclaimed stories in this collection are pervaded by an air of Japanese ghostliness. In beautifully crafted and deceptively light prose, Nakajima portrays men and women beset by cultural amnesia and unaware of how haunted they are – by fragmented memories of war and occupation, by fading traditions, by buildings lost to firestorms and bulldozers, by the spirits of their recent past.
In 1945, Akiyuki Nosaka watched the Allied firebombing of Kobe kill his adoptive parents, and then witnessed his sister starving to death. The shocking and blisteringly memorable stories of The Cake Tree in the Ruins are based on his own experiences as a child in Japan during the Second World War.
They are stories of a lonely whale searching the oceans for a mate, who sacrifices himself for love; of a mother desperately trying to save her son with her tears; of a huge, magnificent tree which grows amid the ruins of a burnt-out town, its branches made from the sweetest cake imaginable.
Profound, heartbreaking and aglow with a piercing beauty, they express the chaos and terror of conflict, yet also how love can illuminate even the darkest moment.
The little girl dutifully fulfils her task but the world around the Moriyama family is changing. Japan is caught in the whirl of what will soon become World War II, turning her beloved older brother into a fanatic nationalist and dividing the family for ever. Sheltered in the garden and the house, Yuri is able to keep the Little People safe, and they do their best to comfort Yuri in return, until one day owing to food restrictions milk is in shorter supply...
A young Tokyoite doctor accepts a post on a remote island south of Okinawa. When a highly contagious fatal disease breaks out, he has to choose between saving himself or saving others.
A hormone-ridden teenage youth left alone with his young stepmother following his father’s death is consumed with jealousy as her affections turn to another man.
A journalist in search of answers travels from the metropolis to a bleak shore on the Japan Sea and eventually the furthest extreme of ice-bound Hokkaido, as he investigates the suicide of a young man.
In a backstreet of the metropolis, a wily old detective follows his hunches to nail the murderer of a young prostitute.
A conflict arises between two detectives investigating the shocking suicide of a 6-year-old child, the son of a young actress famed for her immoral behavior. Can it really be suicide, or is it murder?
In this early collection of five short stories, Kyotaro Nishimura explores the criminal mind and what makes people do the unthinkable.