Haha no isan—Shimbun shōsetsu
[trans. Inheritance from Mother]
Chūōkōron Shinsha, 2012. 528 pp. ¥1,800. ISBN 978-4-12-004347-5.
Also published in: English, Slovenian, and Spanish
The novel traces the frenzied final days of the mother’s life, as she is hospitalized for a fracture and then admitted to a nursing home, where she eventually dies. In parallel with these events, the novel depicts Mitsuki’s shock when she discovers her husband’s affair and follows her as she uses her inheritance to achieve independence and divorce her husband. Despite these weighty subjects, the novel is saved from becoming grim reading by the invigorating clarity of the prose and skillful realism with which Mizumura depicts the lives of the comfortably well-off. It is an accurate depiction of a portion of Japanese society that stands apart from the commonly discussed “working poor.” The tone of the novel’s strategy is set from the outset, when the story begins in medias res with a discussion of money in the course of which the death of the mother is revealed.
The book’s subtitle, Shimbun shōsetsu [A Newspaper Novel], makes it clear that this is an homage of sorts to a whole literary genre. The novel was serialized in the Yomiuri Shimbun, appearing in weekly installments in the newspaper for over a year. Novel serialization continues to hold considerable significance for literature in Japan. (NM)
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