Author: Yu Miri, Trans. Morgan Giles
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Date: June 22, 2020
Book Description: As a work of post-tsunami literature and a protest against the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, this novel is 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.
Kazu is dead. Born in Fukushima in 1933, the same year as the Emperor, his life is tied by a series of coincidences to the Imperial family and has been shaped at every turn by modern Japanese history. But his life story is also marked by bad luck, and now, in death, he is unable to rest easily, haunting the park near Ueno Station. It is here that Kazu s life in Tokyo began and ended, having arrived there to work as a labourer in the run up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics before ending his days living in the vast homeless villages in the park, traumatised by the destruction of the 2011 tsunami and enraged by the announcement of the 2020 Olympics.
Rating: 3 Stars
Review: Told from the voice of Kazu who is a ghost, part oral history, part fictional memoir, Yu Miri depicts a time of political and personal disparity in Japan.
Kazu was born in 1933, the year their Emperor was born. You will find that Kazu has many coincidences tied to this Imperial Family from a timing standpoint but nothing else. He is married with two kids, but lives away from them as he is trying to earn income as a laborer. Later in his life he is transient.
He tells his story, by pinpointing different events, which gives us the full richness of Tokyo during these years. Kazu is tormented by the life he lived, which the author really brought out in her words.
This is a political book as the essence leads up to the announcement of the 2020 Olympics being held in Tokyo, which enraged many residents. I had not realized this was even a concern with this city.
This was a strange and unique tale, but I personally needed to know how this story ended. It is very short, so try to stick with it. I think you will come out with a new perspective of this city and culture.