Translation Works
The 2nd Selected Works
Shot by Both Sides
ENGLISH / Tom Gill published
Originally Published by:
Kawade Shobo Shinsha (1973)
Kodanha (1998) (pb)
  • A controversial novel by Meisei Goto, who has keenly portrayed the anxiety of modern existence; a representative work of the "introverted generation"
When was it that the overcoat disappeared right before my eyes?
Waking up early one day, Akagi suddenly remembers the old khaki army overcoat he wore 20 years earlier, when he traveled from Kyushu to Tokyo to take his university entrance exam, and he begins searching for this overcoat. It was an overcoat his mother had got from somewhere. He goes searching for it at his former boarding house, a pawnbroker he used to frequent, and the place of an old friend from those days. Chatting happily with the middle-aged woman who ran his former boarding house, Akagi suddenly remembers a long forgotten friend, Kuge, and he sets off for Ueno, where Kuge works. While searching for his overcoat, Akagi's train of thought goes off in different directions. He recalls the wartime defeat in northern North Korea where he was brought up, the return to his parents' hometown in Kyushu, and his life as a student living in a boarding house.
After an entire day spent looking about here and there, he still hasn't found a clue to the whereabouts of his overcoat. In the evening, while waiting on Ochanomizu bridge for another friend, Yamakawa, Akagi thinks about how his futile efforts after an early rise have controverted the proverb, "the early bird gets the worm," but paralleled the activities of the main protagonists in two stories of Gogol, "The Nose" and "The Overcoat." And he remembers that, on coming to Tokyo 20 years earlier, he had stood on this same bridge, his hair cut really short, wearing the uniform cap of his rural high school, old-fashioned glasses with perfectly round lenses, and his old army overcoat.
This masterpiece novel employs a special kind of loquacious prose to portray the main protagonist's thoughts, which sometimes stray far from the main plot and sometimes are shredded by the innumerable songs that spring up in his memory.
GENRE: Literary fiction
AWARDS: 2nd Hirabayashi Taiko Prize
(Given for outstanding novels and criticism works)
2018 International Translation Forum on Contemporary Japanese LiteratureJLPP Translation Workshop 2018