Synopses & Reviews
In 1948, a nineteen-year-old pearl diver's dreams of spending her life combing the waters of Japans Inland Sea are shattered when she discovers she has leprosy. By law, she is exiled to an island leprosarium, where she is stripped of her dignity and instructed to forget her past. Her name is erased from her family records, and she is forced to select a new one. To the two thousand patients on the island of Nagashima, she becomes Miss Fuji.
Although drugs arrest the course of Miss Fuji's disease, she cannot leave the colony. Instead, she becomes a caretaker to the other patients, and through the example of their courage, she gains insight into the deep wellspring of strength she will need to reclaim her freedom. Written with precision and eloquence, The Pearl Diver is a dazzling meditation on isolation and community, cruelty and compassion.
"This unusual debut novel set in 1940s postwar Japan renders brutality and intolerance in quiet, lyrical prose....Drawing from actual medical history, Talarigo succeeds in telling a compelling story whose strength is its elegant simplicity." Publishers Weekly
"A keenly observed but rather lifeless portrait. So little happens that it's difficult to stay involved, let alone interested, throughout the whole." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] moving, quiet examination of a Japanese woman grappling with the stigma of the diagnosis that defines her life....Filled with heartbreaking details...this is an unforgettable, achingly sad novel." Kristine Huntley, Booklist
In 1948, a 19-year-old Japanese pearl diver is in her fourth season of working hard to perfect the techniques of her age-old occupation. But her dreams of spending her life diving in the waters of the Seto Inland Sea are shattered when she discovers that she has leprosy.
About the Author
Jeff Talarigo, a former journalist, lived in a Palestinian refugee camp where he wrote several works of short fiction that were published in literary journals, including The Maryland Review, The Arkansas Review, and Chanteh. He has been writing and teaching English in Japan since the early 1990s, and lives with his wife and son on the island of Kyushu.