Synopses & Reviews
From the bestselling author of Breasts and Eggs and international literary sensation Mieko Kawakami, a sharp and illuminating novel about the impact of violence and the power of solidarity in our contemporary societies.
Hailed as a bold foray into new literary territory, Kawakami’s novel is told in the voice of a 14-year-old student subjected to relentless torment for having a lazy eye. Instead of resisting, the boy chooses to suffer in complete resignation. The only person who understands what he is going through is a female classmate who suffers similar treatment at the hands of her tormenters.
These raw and realistic portrayals of bullying are counterbalanced by textured exposition of the philosophical and religious debates concerning violence to which the weak are subjected.
Kawakami’s simple yet profound new work stands as a dazzling testament to her literary talent. There can be little doubt that it has cemented her reputation as one of the most important young authors working to expand the boundaries of contemporary Japanese literature.
“Kawakami unflinchingly takes the reader through the abyss of depraved, dehumanizing behavior with keen psychological insight, brilliant sensitivity, and compassionate understanding. With this, the author’s star continues to rise.” Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“The author of Breasts and Eggs takes on another subject seldom tapped in literary fiction and blows it open with raw and eloquent intensity... An unexpected classic.” Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
“Mesmerizing... Kawakami is a master of the interior voice. There is something about her prose that is so immediate and pressing it blocks out the future almost as if it were a threatening force. We are forced to deal with her characters as they are living now: alone, vulnerable, and unprotected.” World Literature Today
“Heaven is told with astonishing frankness and economy. It will cut through all your defences down to every layer of fear, isolation, hope and need you’ve ever felt. The central pair of fourteen year old outcasts reckon with pain, belonging and the search for meaning in a way that’s heartbreaking and compelling. Mieko Kawakami is a genius.” Naoise Dolan, author of Exciting Times
“Kawakami is a writer who doesn’t shy away from hard truths and painful experiences, so Heaven will not be an easy read, but it’s guaranteed to be a rewarding one.” The Japan Times
About the Author
Mieko Kawakami is the author of the internationally best-selling novel, Breasts and Eggs, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and one of TIME's Best 10 Books of 2020. Born in Osaka, Kawakami made her literary debut as a poet in 2006, and published her first novella, My Ego, My Teeth, and the World, in 2007. Her writing is known for its poetic qualities and its insights into the female body, ethical questions, and the dilemmas of modern society. Her books have been translated into many languages and are available all over the world. She has received numerous prestigious literary awards in Japan, including the Akutagawa Prize, the Tanizaki Prize, and the Murasaki Shikibu Prize. Kawakami lives in Tokyo, Japan.
Sam Bett studied Japanese at UMass Amherst and Kwansei Gakuin University. Awarded Grand Prize in the 2016 JLPP International Translation Competition, he has translated fiction by Yoko Ogawa, Yukio Mishima, and NisiOisin. He also co-hosts Us&Them, a Brooklyn-based reading series showcasing the work of writers who translate. His translation of Yukio Mishima's Star (New Directions, 2019) won the 2019 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission (JUSFC) Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature. Together with David Boyd, he is the translator of Kawakami's Breasts and Eggs.
David Boyd is Assistant Professor of Japanese at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He has translated novels and stories by Hiroko Oyamada, Masatsugu Ono and Toh EnJoe, among others. His translation of Hideo Furukawa's Slow Boat (Pushkin Press, 2017) won the 2017/2018 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission (JUSFC) Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature. Together with Sam Bett, he is the translator of Kawakami's Breasts and Eggs.