"It's not just Murakami but also the shadow of Borges that hovers over this mesmerizing book... [and] one may detect a slight bow to the American macabre of E.A. Poe. Ogawa stands on the shoulders of giants, as another saying goes. But this collection may linger in your mind -- it does in mine -- as a delicious, perplexing, absorbing and somehow singular experience." -- Alan Cheuse, NPR
Sinister forces collide---and unite a host of desperate characters---in this eerie cycle of interwoven tales from Yoko Ogawa, the critically acclaimed author of The Housekeeper and the Professor.
An aspiring writer moves into a new apartment and discovers that her landlady has murdered her husband. Elsewhere, an accomplished surgeon is approached by a cabaret singer, whose beautiful appearance belies the grotesque condition of her heart. And while the surgeon's jealous lover vows to kill him, a violent envy also stirs in the soul of a lonely craftsman. Desire meets with impulse and erupts, attracting the attention of the surgeon's neighbor---who is drawn to a decaying residence that is now home to instruments of human torture. Murderers and mourners, mothers and children, lovers and innocent bystanders---their fates converge in an ominous and darkly beautiful web.
Yoko Ogawa's Revenge is a master class in the macabre that will haunt you to the last page.
An NPR Best Book of 2013
Weaving together the morbid tales of 11 unnamed narrators, prolific Japanese author Ogawa (Hotel Iris), a Shirley Jackson Award winner, presents an intense rumination on the precariousness of interconnected lives. A jigsaw pleasure comes from anecdotes and details slipping into place between most stories, deepening characters and thematic resonance. In "Old Mrs. J," a struggling novelist recalls the antics of her next-door neighbor, who discovers "a carrot in the shape of a hand" in her garden. Later, the handless body of her ex-husband also turns up in the soil. "Sewing for the Heart" is an intricate character study examining the life of a bag maker commissioned by a woman whose vulnerable heart rests outside her chest: "It could fit in the palm of my hand. A pale pink membrane of delicate muscle tissue surrounded it. What extraordinary, breathtaking beauty!" The final story, "Poison Plants" ties up a lot of loose ends and includes a brief authorial transparency that helps seal the spartan collection. The thrills are sometimes cheap and the connections between stories membrane thin, but Ogawa makes it count with her precision and dedication to bringing the vision full-circle.