cover image The Book of Kane and Margaret

The Book of Kane and Margaret

Kiik Araki-Kawaguchi. FC2, $18.95 trade paper (298p) ISBN 978-1-57366-184-3

Araki-Kawaguchi’s inventive, surreal novel in stories (after Disintegration Made Plain and Easy) follows a group of characters who leave the bounds of a WWII-era Japanese internment camp through magic and mischief. Each loosely connected vignette centers on a wildly different iteration of Yoshikane “Kane” Araki and Margaret Morri. In one story, a man named Kane grows a pair of wings and crosses the camp’s barbed wire to mingle freely in the “nearest Arizona Chinatown.” Elsewhere, another Kane leaves the camp by passing as white, not by “any sort of skin condition” but by adopting a confident posture. Margaret Morri appears as a singing cicada; a woman who uses men to reenact the last day with her husband, who disappeared after “going over the wire”; and a young typist seduced by an enchanted frog. Later, Kane and Margaret are octogenarian spouses who reignite their sex lives to compete with the “noises of newly married couples fiercely, hysterically fucking each other” in their barracks’ neighboring bunks. Some stories employ realism to bring the trauma and small rebellions of the camp into sharp relief, such as one about an interned young mother worried about her infant daughter and a dismissive nurse. This beautifully rendered reflection on a dark moment of American history will appeal to fans of literary speculative fiction. (Mar.)