#amreading Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales
Author: Yoko Ogawa
Discovered: Recommended by Murakami fans
Where read: High speed train from St Pancras to Margate
What's the story?
As the title suggests Revenge is a collection of dark and macabre short stories from contemporary Japanese writer Yoko Ogawa. The stories are unconnected yet contain repeated themes and motifs that stem from the first story about a mother who buys cream cakes each year on the day of her dead son's birthday.
The Word's Shortlist view:Much has been written about how dark and lonely these tales are but honestly, themes of loss and isolation are pretty standard in Japanese fiction! Like her contemporaries (Kawakami and Yosimoto) Ogawa's prose is brief and lean, there is absolutely zero room for hyperbole.
Pithy dialogue and minimal plot structure makes Revenge a neat and orderly read but don't be fooled, these eleven stories still manage to pack a punch. From a disused zoo to a museum of torture we're transported to a range of Gothic settings through the lens of Japanese modernity. Any why not? Much has already been written about the secrets that lie behind the neon lit streets of Japan's mega cities.
Revenge is a clever collection of stories inspired by contemporary Japanese writers as well as Edogawa Rampo (a thinly veiled Japanese interpretation of Edgar Allen Po) and the Mystery Writers of Japan. I'll be reading more of Ogawa's work in the future.
"Eternal truths are ultimately invisible, and you won't find them in material things or natural phenomena, or even in human emotions.” - Yoko Ogawa
Who should read this book?
Anyone who's enjoyed Murakami, Yoshimoto or Kawakami
What’s next on the bookshelf
Slade House by David Mitchell