A MAY 2022 INDIE NEXT PICK
A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2022
Bestselling author of Breasts and Eggs Mieko Kawakami invites readers back into her immediately recognizable fictional world with this new, extraordinary novel and demonstrates yet again why she is one of today’s most uncategorizable, insightful, and talented novelists.
Fuyuko Irie is a freelance copy editor in her mid-thirties. Working and living alone in a city where it is not easy to form new relationships, she has little regular contact with anyone other than her editor, Hijiri, a woman of the same age but with a very different disposition. When Fuyuko stops one day on a Tokyo street and notices her reflection in a storefront window, what she sees is a drab, awkward, and spiritless woman who has lacked the strength to change her life and decides to do something about it.
As the long overdue change occurs, however, painful episodes from Fuyuko’s past surface and her behavior slips further and further beyond the pale. All the Lovers in the Night is acute and insightful, entertaining and engaging; it will make readers laugh, and it will make them cry, but it will also remind them, as only the best books do, that sometimes the pain is worth it.
“In the skilled hands of Bett and Boyd, Kawakami’s prose is instantly recognizable—immediate, incisive, and unfailingly honest.”—Katie Kitamura, Entertainment Weekly (A Most Anticipated Book of 2022)
Kawakami (Heaven) returns with a sensational story of loneliness and friendship. Fuyuko Irie, 34, is an asocial freelance proofreader in Tokyo with a repressed libido, self-described as possessing the "self-absorption of a single woman who nothing with her life but work." Friendships elude her except when they're related to her professional life, particularly her outspoken and free-thinking editor, Hijiri Ishikawa. In Fuyuko's free time, she wanders aimlessly in the Shinjuku shopping district and binges on sake. Then, at a culture center, she meets Mitsutsuka, a considerably older high school physics teacher, who introduces her to Chopin's soothing, transcendent "Berceuse" lullaby. They bond over theoretical discussions of quarks, string theory, and the physical and philosophical nature of the "mysteries of light" until Mitsutsuka reveals a disheartening truth about himself. The author dazzles with her exploration of emotions and intertwining of lofty discussions of metaphysics with descriptions of Fuyuko's routines, making her an extraordinary character who moves effortlessly between different worlds as she struggles to find herself. Kawakami turns this study of a "dictionary definition of a miserable person," as Fuyuko calls herself, into an invigorating and empowering portrait. It's a winner.