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The Word Book

Overview

Like the surfaces of a jagged crystal, each story in this collection shows an entirely different facet when viewed from a different angle. Playing games with the basic units of both life and fiction—the solid certainties of the self, the world around us, and the words we use to describe these things to one another—Mieko Kanai creates a reality where nothing is certain, and where a little boy going out to run errands for his mother might find that he's an adult, and his mother long dead, at the end of a single ...

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Overview

Like the surfaces of a jagged crystal, each story in this collection shows an entirely different facet when viewed from a different angle. Playing games with the basic units of both life and fiction—the solid certainties of the self, the world around us, and the words we use to describe these things to one another—Mieko Kanai creates a reality where nothing is certain, and where a little boy going out to run errands for his mother might find that he's an adult, and his mother long dead, at the end of a single train ride. Using precise language to describe dreamlike plots owing as much to Kafka and Barthelme as to Kenzaburo Oe and the long tradition of the Japanese folktale of the macabre, The Word Book is an unforgettable voyage to absurd, hilarious, and terrifying locales, and is the English-language debut for one of the greatest and most interesting Japanese writers working today.

Dalkey Archive Press

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Editorial Reviews

Bret McCabe - Baltimore City Paper
“Kanai has an ephemeral sensuality that offsets and compliments her modulated voices, who guide you through mini epics in this crisp, cool collection.”
Todd Shimoda - Asian Review of Books
“Kanai's stories remind me of Italo Calvino or Jorge Luis Borges, with their stylistically vague flatness yet strong character-driven underpinnings… I highly recommended them and look forward to more.”
Steve Finbow - The Japan Times
“Realities shift and are at once dreamlike and tangible. The range of subject matter and register is dazzling.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781564785664
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press
  • Publication date: 10/8/2009
  • Series: Japanese Literature Series
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 180
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

In 1967, at the age of 20, Mieko Kanai was runner-up for the Dazai Osamu Prize for Ai no seikatsu [A Life of Love], and the following year she received the Gendaishi Techo Prize for poetry.

Paul McCarthy, Professor of Comparative Culture at Surugadai University in Japan, has translated work by Jun’ichiro Tanizaki, Takeshi Umehara, Zenno Ishigami, and Atsushi Nakajima.

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