Synopses & Reviews
A nameless, ambitionless office worker finds his small apartment gradually invaded by three other people: all younger than himself, but seemingly no less adrift. The year is 1986, and the strange communal life of this foursome, extending over half a year, from the end of winter to midsummer, makes up the plot, such as it is, of Plainsong, as this ersatz family finds itself growing closer, and life continues--quietly--around them. Part of the generation that grew to prominence following the success of baby boomers like Haruki Murakami, Kazushi Hosaka's work chronicles the small moments, the moments without conflict, that most novels work to elide. His characters talk, work, exist; their story is one where the tiniest occurrence takes on the proportions of a grand drama.
"A deliberate aimlessness haunts the protagonists in this feline-obsessed first novel by Hosaka. The Chernobyl nuclear disaster is looming in the Soviet Union, manga is hot, and rents are punishingly high in the Tokyo suburb of Nakamurabashi, where the unnamed 30-something bachelor narrator lives alone in a too-big apartment (his ex-girlfriend dumped him). He suddenly has a lot of time on his hands to notice the workings of the neighborhood stray cats, an interest that takes on a hugely important role in his life once free-spirit Akira and penniless Yoko come to stay with him. Yoko likes to track and feed the local stray cats, and, as the narrator loosens up, he consents to allowing a couple of four-legged visitors to stay. Indeed, the narrator's cat obsession is quite suffocating (we're talking page after page of cat observation, dialogue about cats, philosophizing about the life of a cat) and a poor substitute for a plot, though late in the book Akira instigates an outing that lends the plainspoken work some shape. Must love cats. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"I can never remember stories, plot outlines," says one of the characters in this novel, "Dramatic events or flashy stories, anything like that . . ."
About the Author
Plainsong is Kazushi Hosaka's debut novel. Aside from his well-known love of cats, he is also fond of shogi (Japanese chess) and has written a book analyzing one of the premier players of the game.