Revenge by Yoko Ogawa
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 ?