Born in Fukushima in 1933, the same year as the Emperor, Kazu’s life is tied by a series of coincidences to Japan’s Imperial family and to one particular spot in Tokyo; the park near Ueno Station – the same place his unquiet spirit now haunts in death. It is here that Kazu’s life in Tokyo began, as a labourer in the run up to the 1964 Olympics, and later where he ended his days, living in the park’s vast homeless ‘villages’, traumatised by the destruction of the 2011 tsunami and enraged by the announcement of the 2020 Olympics.
Akutagawa-award-winning author Yu Miri uses her outsider’s perspective as a Zainichi (Korean-Japanese) writer to craft a novel of utmost importance to this moment, a powerful rebuke to the Imperial system and a sensitive, deeply felt depiction of the lives of Japan’s most vulnerable people.
‘One thing Yu can do is write. She is simultaneously a social outcast and a literary star, a dark, brooding presence on the bookshelves. A creative genius.’ — New York Times
‘A radical and deeply felt work of fiction, psychogeography and history all at once, tapping us straight into the lifeblood of a Tokyo we rarely see: Tokyo from the margins, rooted in the city’s most vulnerable and least visible lives – and deaths.’ — Elaine Castillo
‘Deftly translated by Morgan Giles, the novel most effectively conveys its concerns through dense layers of narrative, through ambiguity rather than specific fates. It is an urgent reminder of the radical divide between rich and poor in postwar Japan.’ — Lauren Elkin, The Guardian
‘Yu Miri writes about marginal people with deep understanding and sensitivity, using the location of Ueno Park to challenge the hypocrisies of a society that purports to cherish hospitality, kindness and cooperation. Her writing — laconic, strange, haunting and beautifully preserved in this translation by Morgan Giles — is exceptional.’ — Claire Kohda Hazelton, The Spectator
‘Beautifully translated by Morgan Giles, this is a moving, compassionate look at the people left behind.’ — Tatler, 10 books to read this spring
‘It is a tragically honest heart-on-sleeve examination and declaration of the sorrows of modern capitalist life, and more than anything it is a wonderfully written, spectacularly translated piece of fiction, and already guaranteed to be one of the literary highlights of 2019. — Books and Bao
Book Depository: print
ISBNs: 9781911284161 (print) / 9781911284154 (ebook)
Publication date: 4 March 2019
Format: B-format paperback (198mm × 127mm)