Lion Cross Point

Masatsugu Ono, trans. from the Japanese by Angus Turvill. Two Lines (PGW, dist.), $19.95 (128p) ISBN 978-1-931883-70-2
Ono’s haunting short novel, his first to be translated into English, captures the thoughts, imaginings, and dreams of a Japanese boy with memories so painful he cannot talk about them. Neglected by an impoverished mother who leaves him in charge of his mentally and physically disabled older brother, 10-year-old Takeru is taken from contemporary Tokyo by Mitsuko, a grandmotherly relative, to her old-fashioned home in the seaside village where his mother grew up. Villagers welcome Takeru, but he remains troubled. After looking at a photograph showing a boy who died long ago, Takeru sees the boy’s ghost. At Lion Cross Point on the coast, Takeru and his friend Saki hear the story of how Takeru’s mother and Saki’s father almost died there 20 years earlier. Takeru puzzles over this story and that of the dead boy’s; he also has memories of his mother, his brother, people in Tokyo who helped them, and cigarette burns inflicted by his mother’s boyfriend. Blurring distinctions between living and dead, real and imaginary, past and present, Ono uses minimalist language and metaphor to create a gentle yet powerful rendering of the inner turmoil of a boy struggling to comprehend acts of kindness and violence, and feelings of abandonment and shame. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/12/2018
Release date: 04/01/2018
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