In this trade paperback original, Yoko Ogawa, beloved author of The Housekeeper and the Professor, returns with the twisted tale of a young girl’s affair with a mysterious translator on an island off the coast of Japan.
Ogawa (The Housekeeper and the Professor) explores the power of words to allure and destroy in this haiku-like fable of love contorted into obsession. One rainy evening, Mari, a downtrodden 17-year-old who helps her demanding mother run a seedy seaside hotel, overhears a middle-aged male guest ordering an offended prostitute to be silent. In the days that follow, every word—both spoken and conveyed in surreptitious letters—from this man, a hack translator who may have killed his wife, gradually and inexorably leads Mari to submit to his every sadistic desire. Ogawa’s relentlessly spare prose captures both Mari’s yearning for her lost father and the translator’s bipolar oscillation between insecure tenderness and meticulously modulated rage. As this savage novel drives to its inevitable conclusion, Mari’s world collapses around her in both a terrifying bang and a pitiful whimper. (Apr.)