Kinshu: Autumn Brocade

Teru Miyamoto, Author, Roger K. Thomas, Translator
Teru Miyamoto, Author, Roger K. Thomas, Translator , trans. from the Japanese by Roger K. Thomas. New Directions $22.95 (196p) ISBN 978-0-8112-1633-3
Reviewed on: 08/29/2005
Release date: 10/01/2005
Paperback - 196 pages - 978-0-8112-1675-3
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In this 1982 epistolary novel, the first of award-winning Miyamoto's works to appear in the U.S., the chance encounter of a divorced couple sparks an eight-month correspondence explaining their past choices and bearing witness to their present lives. Ten years before the novel begins, newlywed Aki's beloved husband, Yasuaki, was found unconscious in a Kyoto inn beside a dead bar hostess, following what appeared to be a double suicide attempt. Aki quickly divorced him. But these days she's sleepwalking through marriage to Soichiro, a second adulterous husband. Yasuaki's new girlfriend, Reiko, to whom he's revealed little of his failed schemes and flight from loan sharks, pays off his debts and starts a business with him. In the end, ex-husband and ex-wife alike have found fulfillment through work, Aki in caring for her handicapped son, Yasuaki in persuading beauty shops to buy Reiko's promotional flyers. While addressing classic Japanese themes of transience, destiny, male infidelity and female jealousy, this novel feels fresh for its proposal that men's work may be less consequential than women's. Foes of Banana Yoshimoto will be put off by Miyamoto's similarly winsome insights—"Perhaps living and dying are the same thing"—while fans will hear echoes in her predecessor's limpid, modest (and smoothly translated) prose. (Oct. 31)

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