So I’m starting a new thing this week, where every month I’ll spotlight a book of an author from around the world. (Hence the title). I want to use my platform to highlight the talent and works of diverse authors and in some small way, allow representation to flourish. Literature is a wonderful medium for us to connect to different cultures, backgrounds, ways of life and I think we forget that sometimes. This isn’t a preachy post either, I’m trying to expand my own booksphere (can I claim the patent for ‘booksphere’?) and this is merely a space for me to verbalise that.
That said, Here is my book for the month of March.
Hiromi Kawakami is a Japanese writer best known for her off-beat fiction. She has been awarded and has made the shortlist for many honours, such as the 2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize for Strange Weather in Tokyo.
Honestly, I had no prior knowledge of Kawakami’s work, and my reason for picking this book up was that the cover was pretty (I know how this sounds) and that it was a relatively short read. To summarise the story, it tells that of Tsukiko a woman in her thirties and Sensei a man in his seventies who was once Tsukiko’s teacher. The book explores their relationship as it blossoms and they realise they have many similar interests.
I was immediately taken by how cinematic it was, though slow and largely character-driven, the chapters read a lot like scenes, from Santuro’s bar, to mushroom hunting, Sensei’s house etc there’s almost an episode quality which I really enjoyed. There also isn’t any explanation for why they are lonely, unfulfilled perhaps, but they just are and it’s not a detail I feel lacks. We as readers begin to accept it without any real need for an explanation, and as their relationship becomes more complicated there exists a juxtaposition in their need to deepen their acquaintance but remain separate. It very much becomes a book about two people attempting to navigate their spaces in a way that accommodates for the other, but also allows for solitude.
Perhaps this next association is a stretch, but Japanese culture is often known for its’ cleanliness and love of simplicity (at least by my very minimal understanding). I believe that’s something that is palpable through this novel, the narrative style is neat, uncluttered and organized.
I really enjoyed this book and I’ll definitely be checking out Kawakami’s other works. It read almost like a dream and was very gentle, a book that you read with ease, and not something that you feel rushing. Definitely recommend it.
Has anyone else read this or any other Kawakami’s books? Have any recommendations for me? (I can never get too many of those.) Leave me a comment below, tweet me or head over to my Goodreads all of which can be found in my sidebar and let me know!