55-sai kara no harō raifu
[“Hello Life” from Age 55]
Gentōsha (Gentōsha Bunko), 2014. 358 pp. ¥600. ISBN 978-4-34- 442187-5
Also published in: Chinese(traditional and simplified characters) and Korean
The characters include a 58-year-old woman who divorces her husband, unable to face life with him after he retires, and a 54-year-old man who is afraid of becoming homeless upon losing his job at a company. In one story, a man takes early retirement and buys an RV with the severance payment, planning to travel around Japan with his wife. When she unexpectedly refuses, he falls into a kind of depression. In another, a woman loves a pet dog more than her husband. When it dies of illness, her husband, who had appeared cold, comes close and supports her. There is also an old truck driver driven mad by a late-blooming love for an unknown woman.
Incidentally, the Japanese title features an amusing play on words. In Japan today, public employment security offices have been given the nickname “Hello Work” with the aim of making them friendlier places for jobseekers. It could be read as suggesting we should send a greeting to our new life when we decide to start again. The stories expressively describe the varied lives of Japanese people in late middle age. (NM)
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