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FICTION

Sekai no hate no kodomo-tachi

[Children at the End of the Earth]

By Nakawaki Hatsue

Kōdansha (Kōdansha Bunko), 2018. 480 pp. ¥840. ISBN 978-4-06-293902-7.

Also published in: n/a

Tamako is just a young girl when she leaves her village in Kōchi Prefecture to migrate to Manchukuo (modern day Northeast China) with the rest of the family as “pioneer” colonists. Once there, she makes important friends: Mija, who comes from a Korean family, and Mari, a girl from a wealthy family. The three of them get lost far from home one day and stave off hunger by sharing a single rice ball. Experiences like this bring the girls close together, but after the chaos of the war and its aftermath they wind up in quite different situations. Tamako is orphaned and raised by a Chinese family in China, while Mija experiences hardships as an ethnic Korean in Japan. Mari loses her family in the Yokohama air raids and grows up in an institution. In gentle, unstrained prose the author describes the lives of the three girls in an age of turmoil.

    Painstaking research has clearly gone into the absorbing and compelling story rich with the details of daily life. The three girls endure sometimes cruel hardships, and the author displays her talent not by providing a conceptual critique of war but by conveying the nobility and bravery of the characters as they struggle and survive. After almost 40 years, the three old friends finally meet again. This moving story by an author too young to have known the war years herself, full of sympathy and fellow feeling, convincingly re-creates the lives of her grandparents’ generation. (NK)
Sekai no hate no kodomo-tachiの表紙画像

By Nakawaki Hatsue

Nakawaki Hatsue

Born in Tokushima Prefecture in 1974 and raised in Kōchi Prefecture. In 1992, at the age of 17, she won the Bocchan Literary Award for Sakana no yō ni [Like a Fish]. In 2012 she won the Tsubota Jōji Literary Prize for Kimi wa ii ko [You’re a Good Child]. Other works include Watashi o mitsukete [Find Me].

Translation rights inquiries

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