One of Japan’s rising stars in the literary world is singer-turned-writer Mieko Kawakami. Winner of the prestigious Akutagawa Prize and numerous other awards, Kawakami’s latest work translated into English Breasts and Eggswas receiving acclaim long before its release. After an agonizing wait, I finally got my hands on a electronic copy through my local library. Without further ado, here are my thoughts on this phenomenal novel.
What remains after a memory is lost? Is it better to live without memories, or exist alone with all the memories everyone around you has lost? How do you live when objects, once precious or necessary, no longer hold any meaning for you? Yoko Ogawa’s The Memory Police asks all these questions and more. Masterfully translated by Stephen Snyder, Ogawa’s novel was a finalist for the International Booker Prize and the National Book Award, and rightfully so. It’s a perfect blend of Orwellian subterfuge and fantastical, almost fairy-tale elegy.
Recently I wondered what I could start sharing here that might appeal to some of y’all, and was struck with the scathingly brilliant idea to start writing book reviews. I read enough as it is — why not share my thoughts, however unoriginal or unpopular? I’ll be mostly reviewing Japanese literature — I don’t have a B.A. in Japanese Studies just for nothing — but I might move away from that niche if I find a particularly gush-worthy read.
Anyways, these reviews/impressions/rambles probably won’t be too in-depth at first, but I’m hoping to develop a knack for dissecting the meat of a book objectively enough without spoiling it for everybody. (I know, I know, terrible metaphor.) Fair warning: I am not the greatest at summarizing stories, so I’ll always provide a link to the book where you can read its pitch-perfect synopsis.
For this first installment of Pearl Reviews, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on Hiromi Kawakami‘s novel Strange Weather in Tokyo, translated by Allison Markin Powell and published by Counterpoint Press. This came out a few years ago, so I’m very much late to the party, but considering my TBR list is over 1000 books, I’m lucky I was able to get to it at all.