cover image Fog Island Mountains

Fog Island Mountains

Michelle Bailat-Jones. Tantor, $15.95 trade paper (225p) ISBN 978-1-63015-002-0

Bailat-Jones presents a delicate debut novel that is something of a poem in disguise. Indeed, her narrator, storyteller Azami Kitauchi, identifies this work as a poem in its first pages. The narrative captures a brief moment in time, the juxtaposition of the onslaught of a typhoon with the dreadful news of terminal cancer for its protagonist, South African Alec Chester. Alec has made his home in Komachi on the Japanese island of Kyushu for over 40 years, marrying a woman named Kanae and raising a family, and teaching English. In spare prose, Bailat-Jones sketches haiku-like images that combine emotion with sensations of the natural world around Alec. As the wall of the typhoon hits, Alec and Kanae are struggling to find one another. Azami's own story introduces elements of Japanese folklore, bringing contrast to the painfully real narrative of the Chesters. A true rendering of the Japanese "kitsune" folklore tradition, this is a lovely look at the strength and grace that can be found in the face of death, and the sorrow of the knowledge of passing beauty. (Nov.)