Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami (tr. Allison Markin Powell)

a nutshell: this atmospheric novella follows Tsukiko’s blossoming connection with a former teacher after an encounter in a local bar

a line: “the harder I tried to see, the less sure I was about anything”

an image: at one point Tsukiko sits on a tree stump while mushroom-hunting and grows aware of how alive the undergrowth is – bugs, birds, even the breath of the larger animals inhabiting the deeper forest

a thought: I loved Kawakami’s mastery in depicting emotional turbulence, for instance while grieving the prospect of romantic love Tsukiko bursts into tears when she breaks an apple skin while trying to peel it the way her mother did

a fact: this book’s title in the US is ‘The Briefcase’, more accurately reflecting the Japanese title which apparently translates more or less to ‘Sensei of the Briefcase’ (Sensei is a Japanese term used to address a teacher, which is what Tsukiko calls her companion)

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