Translation Works
To Japanese
The 3rd Selected Works
God's Boat
God's Boat
(Kamisama no boto)
ENGLISH / Chikako Kobayashi published
RUSSIAN / Irina Purik
Originally Published by:
Shinchosha (1999)
  • Award-winning and best-selling author.
  • Highly popular author among young female readers in Japan.
The author comments in the afterword as follows: "This is a small, quiet tale, but a tale of madness. And of all the books I have written so far, I think it is the most dangerous". It is a profound tale of the madness of romantic love.
The main character, Yoko, lives alone with her daughter, Soko. In the daytime she teaches piano, and at night she works in a bar. Once she had a passionate, "bone-melting" love affair, out of which Soko was born. Ten years ago the man disappeared after promising, "Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, I swear I will find you again". Yoko believed him without question. The story picks up in 1997, when Yoko is thirty-five and Soko is ten, and covers more than seven years of their daily life from the alternating perspectives of mother and child.
Yoko has three treasures: the piano, "him", and Soko. She works without pushing herself, careful to make time for the pleasures of reading, drinking, and relaxing. She takes every opportunity to sing the praises of Soko's father, and let her know what a wonderful man he was. From their conversation, little by little, Yoko's past emerges.
When Soko asks, "Why do we have to move all the time?" Yoko answers, "Because we're in God's boat". In order that "he" can someday find her, she keeps from forming deep attachments and avoids blending into her surroundings; every year or so they move someplace new.
Amid this peaceful life, Yoko encounters "the greatest crisis of [her] life". Soko says she wants to live in a dormitory. Fearful that she will never be reunited with her lover, and will now lose Soko as well, Yoko grows frightened and distraught.
In the midst of ordinary, matter-of-fact life, a lurking madness; love and parting, and death: This is one of the most important works by an author who has extraordinary sensitivity to loss and conveys it with technical skill of the highest order.