cover image Inheritors


Asako Serizawa. Doubleday, $26.95 (270p) ISBN 978-0-385-54537-2

Serizawa follows a winding maze through a Japanese family’s history in her dynamic debut collection. A family tree beginning with Masayuki (born in 1868) and continuing through to Mai (born in 2013) creates the work’s backbone, as Serizawa constructs a nonlinear narrative filled with abrupt turns, accidental betrayals, and supposed curses and myths. The opening story, “Flight” (covering 1911–1981), follows Masayuki’s daughter, Ayumi, as she loses some of her memories while others become more vivid. In the collection’s standout, “Train to Harbin,” Ayumi’s doctor brother contemplates his youthful nationalism in the years just after WWII and his role in the wartime occupation of China. In “Luna,” set in 1986, Ayumi’s Japanese-American grand-niece Luna learns her father, Masaaki, was adopted and is of Korean heritage (not Japanese, as he believed), leading her to recall her earliest memories of visiting Japan. In “Passing,” set in 2010, Luna returns to Japan to collect Masaaki’s possessions and ruminates not on “where he belonged” but “how he wanted to fit in.” The final two stories, “The Garden” and “Echolocation,” jump into the future to investigate the fallacies of perception and what cyber warfare might look like after Mai’s brother, Erin, develops a global VR climate simulator for predicting disaster. By showing Japan as both colonizer and colonized, Serizawa delivers an elegant, stimulating web of stories. (July)