cover image Spring Garden

Spring Garden

Tomoka Shibasaki, trans. from the Japanese by Polly Barton. Pushkin, $13.95 trade paper (154p) ISBN 978-1-78227-270-0

Two lonely tenants of a Tokyo apartment complex slated for demolition come to share a strange affinity in this quiet, unusual novel, winner of Japan’s Akutagawa Prize. Nishi is a comic-strip artist obsessed with the quirky sky-blue house behind her apartment and a book of photographs called Spring Garden depicting its former residents. Taro is a shy divorcé whose governing principle is to avoid bother and who continues to brood over his father’s death a decade earlier. The unlikely pair form a tenuous friendship, at the heart of which lies their mutual Rear Window–esque fascination with the blue house, its garden, and its occupants, past and present. The plot is uneventful, but, with her spare, precise narration, Shibasaki (A Day on the Planet) keeps the story moving swiftly. Shibasaki transforms the mundane minutiae of Taro’s and Nishi’s lives into a thoughtful exploration of home, loss, and reconstruction. [em](Nov.) [/em]