Translation Works
The 2nd Selected Works
ENGLISH / Alfred Birnbaum
FRENCH / Jacques Lévy published
Originally Published by:
Asahi Shimbun (2003)
  • Masterpiece of Japanese postwar fiction.
The story of Sinsemillas takes place in Jinmachi, a small town with a deserted shopping street, left behind the development, in the Higashine-city, Yamagata Prefecture located in northern Japan.
Jinmachi, once home to a US military base during the Occupation of Japan after the World War II, has long been dominated by the Tamiya family, a bakery, and the Aso family, Yakuza gangster. During the summer of 2000, a significant change took place in the town with the occurrence of a disturbing series of incidents, such as the ‘suicide' of a high school teacher, the accidental death of a car mechanic, and the disappearance of an old farmer.
This is a story about a rural town whose residents seem to have nothing special on the surface. However, dirty, unpleasant incidents were actually in progress behind the scenes. Speculation concerning the construction of an industrial waste disposal plant happened, a group of people enjoyed sneaking around using concealed cameras they installed all around the town, and the policeman stationed at the town's police box was into very young girls. The small country town was a melting pot of greedy residents, and the unimaginable flood revealed the backside of one incident. It was as if the town itself was the main character of this long story that rushes with the acceleration.
Although it is a fiction, Jinmachi is a real town, which is the hometown of the author. And in this novel appeared a man called Kazushige Abe, a writer.
The epic story about 800 pages is a sculptured group play of over 50 characters' mixture. Because of a profoundness of structure on one hand, and the delicate mechanism and puzzles on the other, it doesn't give the feeling of the length.
2018 International Translation Forum on Contemporary Japanese LiteratureJLPP Translation Workshop 2018