cover image Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure

Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure

Hideo Furukawa, trans. from the Japanese by Doug Slaymaker, with Akiko Takenaka. Columbia Univ., $20 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-0-231-17869-3

Furukawa's (Belka, Why Don't You Bark?) brief work is by turns essay, road trip journal, and imaginative intrusion of the fictional into the real. Originally published in Japan just months after the tripartite disaster of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear plant meltdown in the Fukushima region on March 11, 2011, the narrative begins with Furukawa's immediate stunned reaction. He feels compelled to travel north with three companions to witness the devastation for himself. He witnesses what he describes as "ghost nature," a location now devoid of animal life, and later "a surprise attack" when the travelers feel "ambushed" by the obliteration of the landscape. He references moments from his novel The Holy Family, which is set in Fukushima. Then a character from The Holy Family appears to Furukawa and proceeds to tell him about the horses of the region and the violence that they have experienced in the past. The work concludes with the quartet's first sighting of seagulls instead of carrion crows and one final tale of a horse, which prompts Furukawa to remark that "Death definitely exists, but in this moment, death is not at work." A translator's note helps contextualize this work, which was one of the first responses to Japan's 2011 disasters. (Mar.)