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FICTION

Yamaneko dōmu

[Wildcat Dome]

By Tsushima Yūko

Kōdansha (Kōdansha Bungei Bunko), 2017. 384 pp. ¥1,700. ISBN 978-4-06-290349-3.

Also published in: n/a

The protagonists of this novel are Mitch and Kazu, children resulting from shortlived liaisons between Japanese women and American servicemen after World War II. Never knowing their parents, they grow up in an orphanage under the care of a woman known as Mama, who has made it her mission to take in abandoned children. When a girl named Miki drowns in a pond, Mitch and Kazu suspect that a boy who lives near the orphanage may have pushed her in. Years later, they are haunted by news reports about a string of murders that take place over the course of several years, all involving young women who were wearing orange when they were killed. Miki, too, was wearing an orange skirt at the time of the accident. Is there a connection between these cases and Miki’s death?

    The mysterious setup of the plot is deepened by the unique, dizzying structure of the narrative, in which the characters take turns narrating the story in a rotating monologue. At the heart of this maelstrom lies a damning criticism of modern Japan and its tendency to bury memories, from the tragic lessons of World War II to the nuclear accident in Fukushima.

    Tsushima’s depiction of the discrimination faced by these mixed-race orphans treated like “wildcats” casts a harsh light on the distortions of Japanese society. Written in the long shadow of the March 2011 triple disaster, Yamaneko dōmu is a fresh and searing masterpiece of resistance literature. (NK)
Yamaneko dōmuの表紙画像

By Tsushima Yūko

Tsushima Yūko

Born in 1947. Received the Tanizaki Jun’ichirō Prize and Noma Prize for Literature in 1998 for Hi no yama: Yamazaruki [Mountain of Fire: Account of a Wild Monkey], the Osaragi Jirō Prize in 2001 for Warai ōkami [trans. Laughing Wolf], and the Minister of Education’s Art Encouragement Prize and Murasaki Shikibu Prize for Literature in 2005 for Nara repōto [Nara Report]. She passed away in 2016.

Translation rights inquiries

Kōdansha Ltd.
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