Translation Works
The 2nd Selected Works
O Mother
O Mother
(Haha Yo)
GERMAN / Thomas Eggenberg published
RUSSIAN / Tatiana Redko
Originally Published by:
Kodansha (1991)
  • Won the Yomiuri Literary Prize in 1992.
  • Poignant stories of a motherless child.
The writings in this book collectively form a poetic message from the writer to his mother who died when he was young.
The sequence of five stories in this book, each beginning with the words "Oh Mother", describe, in deeply engaging language, a child's love for his parent. The narrator of the tales lost his mother when he was two and has no memories of her. It turns out that his father is actually married to another woman, and the mother of the narrator (and three other children) was in fact a mistress. The father keeps the existence of this other woman and his children by her a secret until the narrator turns seven.
In the end the father's wife takes the children in and raises them, but in the face of her powerful personality the narrator finds his feelings for his true mother bottled up deep inside. Several years pass after the death of his stepmother before he is able to give voice to his thoughts about his mother: once he does, though, he finds that her image grows rapidly in his mind.
All that remains to tell him of his mother are a single photograph of her, a letter from her to an aunt, and the scattered memories that his older siblings are able to share with him. He follows these clues to construct an image of his mother, to whom he delivers his poignant messages: "Oh Mother, where are you now?" "Oh Mother, I want to see your face". "Oh Mother, it's now the time of year when ripe persimmons fall from the trees...."
2018 International Translation Forum on Contemporary Japanese LiteratureJLPP Translation Workshop 2018