On page two of Hiromi Kawakami’s The Briefcase, when narrator Tsukiko is explaining how her story begins and how she became. This week at Necessary Fiction I reviewed Hiromi Kawakami’s The Briefcase, which was published last spring by Counterpoint Press. I had a lot. Hiromi Kawakami’s The Briefcase (translated by Allison Markin Powell) is a brief but powerful novel about the development of a rather unusual.
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Jul 14th, by mary. His back seemed somehow cold and remote. Despite the fact that we had come on this trip together…the person moving steadily away from me…was a stranger. From the opening page of this simply narrated story, author Hiromi Kawakami establishes characters who, in their disarming complexity and iconoclastic actions, behave differently from the expectations that many American readers of Japanese novels may have come to expect.
Hiromi Kawakami – The Briefcase – Michelle Bailat-Jones
Tsukiko Omachi, a single businesswoman of thirty-eight, introduces herself as the narrator of the novel by describing her meeting with Mr. Brieffase Matsumoto at a crowded bar after she finishes work. Tsukiko is not a traditional Japanese woman, and the man she meets is not her contemporary trying to pick her up.
She is aggressive, accustomed to living by her own rules without interference from anyone else, and, though she eventually joins Matsumoto for dinner, she is not looking for a relationship.
Matsumoto, a man about thirty years older than she, has recognized her from the past — she was a student in one of his Japanese classes in high school, years ago. Five bottles of sake later, however, she is seeing him somewhat differently. Despite the more than thirty-year difference in our ages, I felt much more familiar with him than with friends my own thf.
Photo by Joel Abroad.
He also has a large collection of dead batteries: I rode the bus alone, I walked around the city alone, I did my shopping alone, and I brieefcase alone. Sometimes months pass without Tsukiko and Sensei seeing each other.
She sees other people but finds men her own age shallow and uninteresting. Sensei just continues his lonely life as he has lived it for years. On one occasion they go to a household market, where Sensei, in a moment of delight, makes an unexpected purchase.
The Briefcase by Hiromi Kawakami (trans. Allison Markin Powell) – Necessary Fiction
Their mushroom-hunting trip with the owner of the bar and his friend is also fraught. As the seasons change, the relationship changes, not just for Tsukiko but for the reader, too, sometimes in a good way and sometimes not.
Her first trip to a pachinko parlor has subtle and symbolic overtones, as both of the characters try to kawaoami the other guessing so that neither takes the other for granted.
Amanita muscaria, a dangerous, psychedelic mushroom found by the mushroom hunters. Gradually, the two begin to trust each other, though they remain independent, with neither willing to give up personal autonomy.
Hiromi Kawakami – The Briefcase
After two years of casual meetings, Tsukiko begins to be able to predict what Sensei will say under various circumstances, and when she takes walks alone she begins to wonder what Sensei is doing.
On one occasion, she senses that she has an invisible version of herself hovering somewhere, an obviously symbolic realization. On another, we see Sensei responding uncharacteristically when Tsukiko is insulted by a drunk at a bar. The writing is clean — pristine, even — with every word, every event, and every psychological nuance presented clearly.
Rarely have I seen a novel of such psychological acuity, and the emotions it evokes, especially toward the character of Sensei, are strong and empathetic. Inspiring in its honesty and integrity, The Briefcase is well on its way to briefdase a literary classic.
The Yomiuri Giants, which won the Asian Series in both andare pictured on http: The Amanita Brriefcase mushrooms dangerous are from http: The pachinko parlor is shown on http: Feed on Posts Comments.