cover image Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight

Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight

Riku Onda, trans. from the Japanese by Alison Watts. Bitter Lemon, $15.95 trade paper (286p) ISBN 978-1-913394-59-2

In this artful and enigmatic suspense novel, Onda (The Aosawa Murders) pulls the ground out from under the reader by undermining beliefs and expectations concerning her two alternating and potentially unreliable narrators. A young couple about to break up, Hiro and Aki, are preparing to spend their last night together in their small apartment in an unnamed Japanese city. In the first chapter, Hiro concludes his dispassionate account of a mundane conversation between them by wondering whether at some point that night he’ll have to force Aki “to say with her own lips that she killed that man?” In the next chapter, Aki reveals that she lied when she told Hiro she would be traveling to Vietnam with friends as a way to ensure that Hiro, whom she suspects of murdering the unidentified man, doesn’t harm her. Onda judiciously and incrementally fills in the backstory about the man, who officially died as the result of an accidental fall. This tour de force demonstrates how suggesting events can be so much more powerful than explicitly depicting them. Fans of subtle psychological thrillers will be enthralled. (July)