cover image Inheritance from Mother

Inheritance from Mother

Minae Mizumura, trans. from the Japanese by Juliet Winters Carpenter. Other Press, $27.95 (464p) ISBN 978-1-59051-782-6

Mizumura (A True Novel) upends the paradigm of the Japanese mother-daughter relationship in this complex novel. Mitsuki and her older sister, Natsuki, both married with complicated lives, grapple with their mother Noriko’s declining health. Because she’s been a difficult, demanding, selfish mother her whole life, they look forward to her demise. Mitsuki is childless and bears the burden of their mother’s care, which is made more problematic because Noriko, now in her 80s, has always favored Natsuki. Further, Mitsuki has discovered not only a third instance of her husband’s infidelity but also that he is planning to divorce her. She takes a break from her life, staying at a renowned Hakone hotel, where, thanks to a psychic friend, one of the guests believes that someone in their midst will commit suicide. The author demonstrates that what appears calm on the surface can hide unimaginable depths of despair. In this compelling exploration of family history and its impact on relationships and traditions, Mizumura offers insight into how Japanese culture and shows how two daughters can survive the damage wrought by an onerous parent. (May)