Synopses & Reviews
FROM BOOKLIST: An intriguing new voice is introduced in this selection of Kono Taeko's stories written in the 1960s. Most focus on middle-class women in their thirties, married, but with no children. Although firmly rooted in the realist tradition, the stories have a surreal, dreamlike quality. Several of them deal with obsession; in the title story, for example, Akiko is repulsed by little girls but obsessed with little boys. In "Crabs," Yuko is 91 and consumed with the task of finding a particular kind of crab for her nephew when he comes to visit her at the seaside resort where she is recovering from tuberculosis. Physical pain is another common element; very ordinary objects and activities can also be important signifiers, especially when they are described in such meticulous detail that they become hyperrealistic, like eating oysters on the half shell in "Bone Meat." All the stories display a highly developed visual sense that gives them a cinematic quality and may remind readers of the work of other Japanese authors, such as Abe Kobe. Mary Ellen Quinn
Toddler-Hunting & Other Stories introduces to American readers a startlingly original voice. Winner of most of Japan's top literary prizes for fiction, Taeko Kono writes with a disquieting and strange beauty, always foregrounding what Choice called "the great power of serious, indeed shocking events." In the title story, the protagonist loathes young girls, but she compulsively buys expensive clothes for little boys so that she can watch them dress and undress. The impersonal gaze Taeko Kono turns on this behavior transfixes the reader with a fatal question: What are we hunting for? And why? Now available in paperback for the first time, Toddler-Hunting & Other Stories should fascinate any reader interested in Japanese literature--or in the growing world of transgressive fiction.