Translation Works
To Japanese
The 3rd Selected Works
ENGLISH / Michael Emmerich published
FRENCH / Elisabeth Suetsugu published
GERMAN / Ursula Gräfe & Kimiko Nakayama-Ziegler published
RUSSIAN / Lyudmila Mironova published
Originally Published by:
Bungeishunju (2006)
  • A masterpiece of Hiromi Kawakami that has been translated into numerous Western languages, including English, French, German, Russian, and Polish
Why did he leave? In the depths of my body I feel resentment for my husband.
Several years ago Kei's husband disappeared, leaving behind a diary that included the word "Manazuru," the name of a town two hours to the south of Tokyo by train. Had he disappeared because he was suffering from an illness? Had he wanted to die? Had he disappeared because he wanted to live? - Kei has no idea. Even after the time period required for a legal divorce passes, Kei does not remove her name from his family register and continues to use his last name.
Living with her mother and daughter, Kei harbors a feeling of resentment mixed with love, but she has repeated trysts with her lover, a man seven years her senior, with his own household. And when she is not meeting her lover, she travels to Manazuru, as though being dragged there by something.
For some time now, Kei has been feeling as though an invisible woman is following her around. This feeling has been there since before her husband's disappearance, but Kei has never talked to anyone about it. Initially, it seemed she was being followed from afar, and the gender of the pursuer was unclear, but the mysterious presence has become increasingly tangible, to the point where Kei can actually converse with it. Sensing that the presence is a "woman" who had some kind of relationship with her husband, Kei asks about this during her conversations, but the "woman" always gives vague responses on subjects related to her husband.
Kei's daughter, who had been just a baby at the time of the disappearance, is growing up with hardly any memory of her father, and Kei's lover is jealous of the invisible presence. Suffering from her actual human relationships and continuing to feel strongly about her missing husband, Kei repeatedly travels between Tokyo and Matsuru, because she has become determined to undertake a kind of memorial service for him.
This is a beautiful, if frightening, work in which Hiromi Kawakami has pioneered new literary territory.
Genre: Literary fiction
Awards: Ministry of Education Art Encouragement Prize (fiscal 2006)
(Given to writers who have established outstanding literary records and pioneered new dimensions of literature)