Thursday, 5 October 2017

Revenge by Yoko Ogawa

Revenge by Yoko Ogawa
First published in Japanese in Japan in 1998. English language translation by Stephen Snyder published by Picador in 2013.

One of my WorldReads from Japan

I registered my copy of this book at BookCrossing

How I got this book:
Swapped for at Camping Ria Formosa, Cabanas de Tavira, Portugal

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A woman goes into a bakery to buy a strawberry cream tart. The place is immaculate but there is no one serving so she waits. Another customer comes in. The woman tells the new arrival that she is buying her son a treat for his birthday. Every year she buys him his favourite cake; even though he died in an accident when he was six years old.

From this beginning Yoko Ogawa weaves a dark and beautiful narrative that pulls together a seemingly disconnected cast of characters. In the tradition of classical Japanese poetic collections, the stories in Revenge are linked through recurring images and motifs, as each story follows on from the one before while simultaneously introducing new characters and themes. Filled with breathtaking images, Ogawa provides us with a slice of life that is resplendent in its chaos, enthralling in its passion and chilling in its cruelty.

There is nothing excessive or extraneous in Ogawa's writing. Every word is precise, restrained and elegant yet she manages to conjure up memorably haunting and gruesome images out of initially everyday situations. I love the interlinking of the eleven stories which, in several cases, hinged on a seemingly insignificant detail - a deceased hamster for example. There is much sadness and poignancy to this book but Ogawa's imagination and gift for communication is wonderful and I would definitely read her full-length novels on the strength of these stories.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Yoko Ogawa / Short stories / Books from Japan

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