Strange Weather In Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami

(Translated by Allison Markin Powell)

This book was fairly short, and while it wasn’t my favorite book in the world, it was a nice read. It was translated beautifully, and I liked the way it was divided—short, easy chapters that could probably suffice as standalone short stories. It’s about Tsukiko, 40 years old, who meets her old high school teacher in a bar one night—she only ever calls him ‘Sensei’—and they become friends over frequent, sporadic meetings, which then develops into an awkward sort of love. It’s very sweet, and very differently styled when you compare it to Western writing—some chapters, short as they are, read like poetry, with a sort of sense of rhythm you don’t get very often in books; they felt like long, flowing haikus, and I liked that about it. Another thing about the styling is that it was very abrupt, especially the ending, but the random jolts of plot development were there throughout. It felt very weird, but at the same time the writing had a smooth, dreamlike quality with phrases like “the moon was once again enveloped in haze” to end chapters.

The thing I didn’t enjoy was the lack of plot – nothing much happened apart from what it stated on the blurb, and it felt a bit like rambling at times, as if certain bits—especially those involving characters apart from Tsukiko and Sensei—were just ‘padding’, filler text to space scenes apart.

Overall, though, it was fairly enjoyable, maybe not my favorite style of prose but nice nevertheless. Age-wise, it was a bit of an anyone-and-everyone book, as there isn’t a specific age I’d recommend reading it at.

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WIKI site of the author Hiromi Kawakami

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