In this haunting, richly woven novel of modern life in Japan, the author of the acclaimed debut One for Sorrow explores the ties that bind humanity across the deepest divides. Here is a Murakamiesque jewel box of intertwined narratives in which the lives of several strangers are gently linked through love, loss, and fate.
On a train filled with quietly sleeping passengers, a young man’s life is forever altered when he is miraculously seen by a blind man. In a quiet town an American teacher who has lost her Japanese lover to death begins to lose her own self. On a remote road amid fallow rice fields, four young friends carefully take their own lives—and in that moment they become almost as one. In a small village a disaffected American teenager stranded in a strange land discovers compassion after an encounter with an enigmatic red fox, and in Tokyo a girl named Love learns the deepest lessons about its true meaning from a coma patient lost in dreams of an affair gone wrong.
From the neon colors of Tokyo, with its game centers and karaoke bars, to the bamboo groves and hidden shrines of the countryside, these souls and others mingle, revealing a profound tale of connection—uncovering the love we share without knowing.
Exquisitely perceptive and deeply affecting, Barzak’s artful storytelling deftly illuminates the inner lives of those attempting to find—or lose—themselves in an often incomprehensible world.
Barzak's accomplished novel-in-stories dwells on people dealing with life's sorrows through somewhat tenuous connections. Set in Japan, the narratives focus on protagonists from the country and travelers in search of a new life, as in "Realer Than You," in which 16-year-old Elijah Fulton longs for his native America while struggling to fit into his new surroundings outside of Tokyo. "The Suicide Club" is made up of four young adults on the fringe of Japanese society attempting to make sense of their lives, while "Sleeping Beauties" concerns, albeit sappily, an American teacher and his Japanese lover; the narrator loses his identity through total immersion in his lover's life, yet it's the slow return to self that is even more devastating. "If You Can Read This You're Too Close" centers on a disillusioned, selfish young man whose life is changed after a blind man sees him. Barzak's perceptive writing evinces the fragile and overwhelming desire for meaning and love.