Fiction. Translated from the French by Pascale Torracinta. 2008 Recipient of the Hemingway Translation Grant. In Japanese, "Sarinagara" means "and yet." This word is the last word of one of the most famous poems of Japanese literature. When he writes it, Kobayashi Issa has just lost his only child: yes, all is emptiness. But Issa mysteriously adds this last word to his poem, leaving its meaning in suspense. This enigma is the theme of a narrative that brings together the stories of three Japanese artists across the centuries: Issa, the last great Haiku master of the 18th century, Natsume Soseki, inventor of the Japanese modern novel at the end of the 19th century, and Yamahata Yosuke, who was the first photographer to take pictures of the victims and ruins of Nagasaki in August 1945. These three "dreamed lives" make the substance of a narrative that takes the reader from Paris to Kyoto and from Tokyo to Kobe, and asks the question of how anyone can hope to survive the most heartbreaking experience.
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About the Author
Born in Paris in 1962, Philippe Forest is the author of numerous essays on art and literature and of three novels, all published by ditions Gallimard in Paris. His novel SARINAGARA won the Prix Dcembre in 2004. He is currently a professor of literature at the University of Nantes, specializing in avant-gardes.