Revenge by Yoko Ogawa

revenge by Yoko Ogawa

Revenge by Yoko Ogawa

Japanese fiction

Original title – collected from various stories she has written .

Translator – Stephen Snyder

Source – Review Copy

I ve often seen Yoko Ogawa name mention and her books reviewed around the internet and had ordered Hotel Iris from the library for Tony’s January in Japan ,when this fell through my letter box so I decide to read this as I don’t get through many short story collections so this being described as dark and like classic poetry collections I decide to give it a whirl .Yoko Ogawa  grew up in a japanese christian family her grandfather was a teacher ,she grew ,loving literature in particular The diary of Anne Frank ,she then began working  and at 26 published her first book .She has written over twenty books over the last twenty five years .

He died twelve years ago .Suffocated in an abandoned refrigerator left in a vacant lot .When I first saw him ,I didn’t think he was dead.I thought he was just ashamed to look me in the eye because he had stayed away from home for three days .

The two women talk in the bakers in the story Afternoon at the bakery

So to revenge when I opened and read through the title poison plants ,welcome to the museum of torture ,I knew I was on to a strange collection so we open on the first story a mother is at a baker’s shop we meet two women and it turns out one is buying a cake for a son that had died many years ago as the chat away about what they’re doing in the bakery  .As you go through the stories we  start to see links through out ,elsewhere we have a pair of staff whose job is  collecting lab coats at a hospital then ,we see some at the same hospital  someone doing heart surgery in one of  the said  lab coat .The man who works at the strange Museum of torture happens to turn up in the next story doing a completely different job .

she rubbed her cheek against the bundle ;

“Do they have any of your books here ?” I asked .

“They do ” she said ,standing up and going to one of the  shelves .

” This is mine – one that managed to escape the burglar ” she said handing it to me .

Afternoon at the bakery .The book was slender ,and as tattered as her bundle .

The title of another story appears as a book in the story Tomatoes and the full moon

This collection is rather well done .The stories all tend to be  on the strange and unusual  side ,the collection , I was reminded me most of were the stories of Roald Dahl ,the ones that got made into tales of unexpected because a lot of these stories had that feel of weird glances into people’s lives and meeting  odd characters such as  the landlady that grows strange human hand shaped carrots in her garden for example .Another collection of short stories  I was reminded of was the collection by Dan Rhodes Timoleon Vieta come home ,which had a recurring motif through out its stories is that of the dog Timoloen vieta  appearing at some point during the story .Here the motif isn’t so clear but is there and is almost like the Japanese puzzle box my grandparents had where you had push this panel ,move this bit to finally open the box ,here there is a little bit of the previous story that appears in the next story and as you go along you see some other you have to go back and discover .Each story would make a great stand alone this is one of those collections where there is no weak link .The book comes out tomorrow in the uk .

Do you have a favourite collection of short stories from Asia ?


35 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sakura
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 16:52:34

    I’m looking forward to reading this one. And the cover is so beautiful.


  2. Seamus Duggan
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 17:14:08

    Interesting – these sound totally different to The Housekeeper and The Professor, also by Yoko Ogawa, which I have just read.


  3. Caroline
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 19:21:19

    I didn’t get a long with Hotel Iris but I wouldn’t mind reading another one. These stories sound unusua, maybe not a bad pick if I’ll read her again.


    • winstonsdad
      Feb 06, 2013 @ 02:19:57

      This is meant be quite different I have hotel iris from library but not got to it and may leave it til next time now as other things to read at mo all the best stu


  4. Gavin
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 19:29:38

    I have this on my library hold list, can’t wait to read it.


  5. Max Cairnduff
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 20:41:24

    I just read Trevor’s review of this as you know, so it’s interesting to see that you also liked it. I won’t be reading it soon, but it is now on my radar so thanks.


  6. Tony
    Jan 31, 2013 @ 06:58:12

    I wasn’t aware that it wasn’t a collection in the original version – you live and learn 🙂


    • winstonsdad
      Feb 06, 2013 @ 02:23:14

      Seems I may be wrong didn’t look as thou it was on Japanese wiki when translated but may have changed title or not translated it quite right on google as it struggles with Japanese to English all the best stu


  7. Lisa Hill
    Jan 31, 2013 @ 07:26:38

    I’ve got this on my TBR too:)


  8. Michael @ Literary Exploration
    Jan 31, 2013 @ 07:26:48

    I love this collection it’s a perfect blend of beauty and the macabre


  9. JoV
    Jan 31, 2013 @ 22:15:41

    I’m glad you like it Stu. I am trying to get my hands on it!


  10. kimbofo
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 21:36:21

    Good to hear your thoughts on this one, Stu. I thought it was a remarkable collection… loved all the repeating motifs etc.


  11. Jacqui (@jacquiwine)
    Mar 02, 2013 @ 08:32:35

    I loved this collection of stories – very dark and unsettling, yet beguiling too. I also loved the recurring images and motifs – the way in which the edges of the stories begin to blur and blend into one another as you continue to read. Very skilful.


  12. Lisa Hill
    Apr 03, 2013 @ 20:11:12

    Now I’ve read it, I think it’s a curious mixture of melancholy and macabre. I haven’t been to Japan yet, but when I do, well, all those tales of restrained, quiet, polite people suddnely breaking loose and doing such violent things will make me watch myself on the bullet train…


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January 2013


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