The Book of Tokyo
A City in Short Fiction
Book type: Anthology
Published: 23 Jul 2015
A shape-shifter arrives at Tokyo harbour in human form, set to embark on an unstoppable rampage through the city’s train network…
A young woman is accompanied home one night by a reclusive student, and finds herself lured into a flat full of eerie Egyptian artefacts…
A man suspects his young wife’s obsession with picnicking every weekend in the city’s parks hides a darker motive…
At first, Tokyo appears in these stories as it does to many outsiders: a city of bewildering scale, awe-inspiring modernity, peculiar rules, unknowable secrets and, to some extent, danger. Characters observe their fellow citizens from afar, hesitant to stray from their daily routines to engage with them. But Tokyo being the city it is, random encounters inevitably take place – a naïve book collector, mistaken for a French speaker, is drawn into a world he never knew existed; a woman seeking psychiatric help finds herself in a taxi with an older man wanting to share his own peculiar revelations; a depressed divorcee accepts an unexpected lunch invitation to try Thai food for the very first time… The result in each story is a small but crucial change in perspective, a sampling of the unexpected yet simple pleasure of other people’s company. As one character puts it, ‘The world is full of delicious things, you know.’
Published with support from the Japan Foundation.e.
‘Reading these 10 stories set in modern-day Tokyo makes me feel as though I’ve returned home after a long journey. This is us, in Tokyo now.’ - The Book of Tokyo features in the New York Times' top ten books about Tokyo: ‘Read Your Way Through Tokyo'.
'The characters’ habit of introspection gives these tales a hazy, dreamlike quality; the physical environment of Tokyo is rarely described directly. What gives them their sense of place is, rather, their shared sense of the ephemeral aspect to life in the big city – and the various pleasures and sadnesses it brings.' - The Independent
'The Book of Tokyo showcases the lesser-known diversity of the city’s people.' - The Japan News
'An intriguing impression of what it’s like to come of age and face middle age in contemporary Tokyo.' - Editor's pick in the November 2015 edition of World Literature Today
'Absorbing stories' - New Statesman
'An enigmatic, yet elegant work of art' - Singapore Review of Books
'A highly recommended short story collection, one that should be kept close at hand to reread' - Asian Review of Books
'By using many translators – including new and emerging practitioners – The Book of Tokyo captures the variety of styles in the original, and, more importantly, the atmosphere of the city itself: its multitudes, its tragedies, its contradictions and its absurdities.' - The New Welsh Review
'As far as ‘reading the city’ is concerned, this is a map to be misread. As such, there are few better guidebooks' - The Literateur
'Many of the vectors on which the city and its inhabitants cross produce simple revelations, succinctly expressed' - Bookmunch
'The editing and story selection of The Book of Tokyo is excellent' - Japaneselit.net
'The Book of Tokyo is sensationally entertaining' - Bear Books
'Barthes’ “faraway” just isn’t that far away anymore. In its disorientating variety, its self-conscious play with cultural stereotypes, its fascination with both body – and its appetites – and disembodiment and, above all, its fondness for the chance encounter as catalyst for fiction, The Book of Tokyo: A City in Short Fiction brings it a little closer still.' - From the 'Fictive Nation' to the 'City in Short Fiction': Reading 'The Book of Tokyo' After Barthes, an article in the Glasgow Review of Books (February 2017)
Translator of Hitomi Kanehara in the book, Dan Bradley, wrote an essay for the New Statesman's City Metric: 'Stories help jumble the present into something reassuring...'
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