Bitter Lemon Press | 26 July 2022 | 286 pgs
Translated from the Japanese by Alison Watts
Where to begin? Everything about this story baffled me; starting with the sunny poetic title which has nothing to do as what it suggested (or perhaps I just missed it). In any case the concept was refreshing albeit a bit muddled in my opinion.
The story opens with a couple in their shared flat for a late night conversation before they go on separate ways. Aki and Hiro felt they've to know each other's feelings and thoughts after their mountain trek in which their guide had fallen off the mountain. To begin with, their relationship has somewhat broken down before the trip and looking back, they began to wonder if the other has anything to do with the guide's death.
Set over the course of one night, the reader will soon learn that the mind games between the couple go far beyond from that fateful trekking trip as there's something more about their past which might have start the chains of events leading to what happened on the mountain.
With narratives alternate between Aki and Hiro, this story was draped in an intense, suffocative atmosphere which have you question the characters' inner thoughts and the unravelling truth as a new day began. Truth be told, the strength of the story lies in the taut atmospheric setting and the tension between the characters but the suspense of the guide's death was shadowed by the characters' reminiscence as the story progresses. It was quite a well-crafted story characters-wise but a bit lacking in the thriller department (though I later understand that this isn't the core of the story at all). This book wasn't what I'd expected initially but the author's writing intrigued me. Perhaps I should check out her previous book, The Aosawa Murders (selected by NYT as one of most notable books of 2020.)
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