Touring the Land of the Dead by Maki Kashimada
PICKED BY THE GUARDIAN AS 'FICTION TO LOOK OUT FOR IN 2021'
A dream-like, emotionally charged narrative by a bold new voice in Japanese fiction A mesmerizing combination of two tales about memory, loss and love, both told with stylistic inventiveness and breath-taking sensitivity. Taichi was forced to stop working almost a decade ago and since then he and his wife Natsuko have been getting by on her part-time wages. But Natsuko is a woman accustomed to hardship.
When her own family's fortune dried up years during her childhood, she, her brother, and her mother lived a surreal hand-to-mouth existence shaped by her mother's refusal to accept their new station in life. One day, Natsuko sees an ad for a spa and recognizes the place as the former luxury hotel that Natsuko's grandfather had taken her mother to when she was little. She decides to take her damaged husband to the spa, despite the cost, but their time there triggers hard but ultimately redemptive memories relating to the complicated history of her family.
The overnight trip becomes a voyage into the netherworld - a journey to the doors of death and back to life. Modelled on a classic story by Junichiro Tanizaki, Ninety-Nine Kisses is the second story in this book and it portrays in touching and lyrical fashion the lives of the four unmarried sisters in a historical, close-knit neighbourhood of contemporary Tokyo.
"Kashimada is a writer who brings something truly rich." - Nikkei
"The tense disquiet that hangs over the work has a unique charm. This is a world that only Kashimada could have depicted." - Yoko Ogawa