Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori
Keiko can be strange. A litany of incidents as a small child sets her apart from most of her friends and fills her with anxiousness. When she grows up, she stumbles into a job working in a convenience store... and she has been there ever since. Finding comfort in the mundane, the perpetuity of the day to day and always being the model employee bring much joy to her heart. But is this enough? Friends and family worry and feel shamed by her, some suggesting marriage maybe the answer, and escape. Question is, does Keiko want to escape and could she survive if she did?
This is quirky, sweet but slightly unsettling story about doing something that you love, and the traps one falls into when the the easy path is all too tempting.
Matt, Web Team
The Last Children of Tokyo by Yoko Tawada, translated by Margaret Mitsutani
"For an old man like Yoshiro, time after death no longer existed. The aged could not die; along with the gift of everlasting life, they were burdened with the terrible task of watching their great grandchildren die."
In a future where the "fixed" facts of life we take for granted now have all changed, countries have isolated themselves and nature has become contaminated, Yoshiro is just trying to live a quiet life with his great grandson, Mumei, hoping he survives another season.
Tawada's writing is enchanting, conjuring vivid images of this new Japan, and making the heart ache somewhat for the state the world has found itself in. But there is a quiet hope here, that even in a newly hostile world there still exists a fragile humanity. Compelling, and guaranteed to resonate past the last page.
Lauren, Charing Cross Road
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
Kitchen tells two stories of how two women grieve after great losses and the role other people play in their survival.
Yoshimoto's masterful writing depicts family, love and trans-sexuality through the devastating and transformative lens of grief in such a natural way that though heart-breaking it fills you with hope. Magnificent.
Sofia, Design Team
Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima
Territory of Light is a simple but beautifully told story of a young woman and her two year old daughter, who are starting a new life together in their new and luminous apartment.
Over the course of a year, the daily struggles of work, old relationships and child rearing are explored with a tenderness and lightness of touch that is graceful and poetic.
Matt, Web Team