Reading Women on Contemporary Japanese Writers in Translation
A Deep Dive Into Yoko Ogawa and Mieko Kawakami
From the episode:
Kendra: So it is Women in Translation Month, and we’re celebrating by talking about Asian women writers.
Kendra: Yeah. So I am so excited. I just love Women in Translation Month. And I have found more books on audio this year than I ever have before. So my TBR is great.
Sachi: Yeah, it’s a huge win.
Kendra: Yeah. So I thought we could talk a little bit about why Meytal created Women in Translation Month and kind of how it’s expanded to beyond the original idea to just like celebration of all these women in translation.
Kendra: Over . . . I will link in the show notes a page that on the official Women in Translation Month website of her stats. I love stats.
Sachi: Oh yeah. We are stats people over here.
Kendra: Oh yes. I could stare at these graphs for ages. But the general summary is that approximately 30 percent of new translations into English are books by women writers.
Kendra: That might shock some people, but Amazon Crossing is publishing more women in translation than any other publisher.
Sachi: Which to me is so very surprising, I feel.
Kendra: Yeah. You know, I was like, what? But I went and looked. And they have a big push for world literature every year. And they offer like free titles to Amazon Prime members. And they’re more likely to go to audio because they have Audible right there next door, as it were. It’s fascinating.
Sachi: Interesting. I didn’t know that.
Kendra: And it’s also important to note that certain languages are more likely to be published into English than others. Of course, these are, you know, Western European languages like French, German, Spanish, and Italian. Which I mean, that’s not really surprising.
Sachi: No, I figure. . . . If I were to guess, like, what area of the . . . or, you know, geography wise . . . what general area would be translated the most, my guess would kind of be Europe.
Kendra: The white people countries!
Sachi: Yes. Yes. But I do see on the chart, Arabic and Chinese are shortly after Italian. So I think that’s good.
Kendra: Yeah! I wonder what the breakdown is between Cantonese and Mandarin.
Sachi: Yeah. I’d be very interested to see that.
Kendra: I think that’s absolutely fascinating. A friend of mine who is one of the hosts for Women in Translation Month Readathon, which we do over on BookTube, noted that she studied languages in Eastern Europe. And like there are so few women writers translated from Eastern European languages. So one of her big books is she’s promoting this year is a book by a Hungarian woman, which I will link in the show notes some additional things that we’ve mentioned in this little preamble. But I think it’s so fascinating, and it’s something that I just don’t see talked about much on the bookternet.
Sachi: No. Yeah, I feel like, you know, Women in Translation gets its buzz in August. But like even these stats, like I’ve participated in Women in Translation Month probably for the last three years, and I’ve never actually, like, gone out to the site and looked at the stats. So I feel like it’s probably something that needs to be brought to light more because I think we all just kind of highlight it for a month, maybe don’t look into it too much, but just maybe take from the TBRs some of the stuff that you have in your stocks that are translations and just kind of move on. And that’s something that I need to do better, too, at just reading more translated works throughout the year and even reading books, you know, that are from not American authors throughout the year. And seeing these stats and focusing a lot more through this theme has definitely helped me personally as well.
Kendra: I really appreciate what the creator has done this year with noting even more marginalized groups within the Women in Translation Month category. So she has set up some prompts for 2020. Again, I’ll link that in the show notes. But some of them are, you know, read African women, read Indigenous women. . . . Translated, obviously, from their original languages. Read. Middle Eastern women, queer women, and South Asian women. And she points out to these groups that she has seen from the stats that they are also even more underrepresented than other kinds of women in translation, which I really appreciated that she did that.
Sachi: Yeah, that’s very helpful and very enlightening.
Kendra: Awesome. All right. Well, I think it’s time to get into our discussion picks.
Sachi: Sounds great. Can’t wait.
Kendra: All right. So I have the first one. And that is Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami. And that’s translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd, and this is out from Europa. Fun fact: the translators, I believe, split up the translation; one did the prose predominantly, and one did the dialogue.
Sachi: Which, when you mentioned that to me earlier, I was shocked because I initially thought that one had done book one . . . because the book, like we mentioned on the previous episode, the book is split into two parts. Book one, which is Breasts, and then in book two, which is Eggs. And I figured that one had taken one, and the other had had taken the second one. And not the case!
Kendra: Yeah, yeah. I was blown away by that. And Jaclyn read this before I did. And basically via the internet shoved the book into my hands and was like, “Read this.”
Sachi: Well, good. Because you told me then, and I loved it too. So I guess Jaclyn is the one that we should really be giving our claps to, right?
Kendra: Yes. There’s so many great books coming out from Europa. And so sometimes I lose track of them all. And then, originally, I hadn’t really been looking at this book because there wasn’t an audiobook. But the audiobook was delayed and came out later. So I was able to listen to it. And I’m so glad. This book is fabulous. So like we said, this is originally published in 2019 in Japanese and then was translated and just came out this past spring here in English. And so the first book, what we could call BREASTS, focuses on the narrator and her sister and her niece who have come to visit her in Tokyo from Osaka. And her sister wants a boob job. And there’s lots of discussions about women’s bodies and trying to make them more acceptable for men’s eyes. And the links . . . like . . . dying your nipples, essentially. I just never knew any of this information. And like, what man is worth that? You know?
Sachi: I know.
Kendra: But at the same time, her sister was like, this is for me in many ways.
Kendra: And it was just so interesting . . . kind of situation and conversations to kind of be a fly on a wall for with this novel.
Sachi: Right. Because, like, Natsu, who’s the protagonist, and then her sister, Makiko, who is considering the kind of breast enhancement. . . . She works. . . . Makiko works in, like, I think it’s like a bar or something and kind of takes, you know, to some extent maybe some hostess-type duties. And so I was thinking, Okay, you know, that from the gaze of like, I’m satisfying male customers, so I want to do this because I feel pressure as this is the acceptable thing. I felt that. And then when she started talking about, like, nipple color, I was like, wait, no one’s going to see that. Like, this is just pressure that she’s getting, you know, from the outside world, even just like in personally to really affect her self-esteem, to say. . . . I think that even Natsu even says like, “Well, who’s going to see that?” She’s like, “Well, just me.” And she’s like, “Okay?”.
Sachi: And like, talking about how painful it is and how many weeks you have to do it. And Natsu’s just like, for what? Like why go through all that pain? And that’s what, you know, Makiko ends up doing that. She’s like, Well, I ended up just stopping because I was in so much pain, and, you know, I’m the only one seeing this stuff. . . . And it’s just like the amount of pressure felt by women to have this certain standard of beauty, even things that aren’t outwardly seen by other people, is so strong that she felt that she needed to do that and focus so heavily on it. So it was just very, very interesting.
Kendra: And the niece, Midoriko, is this teenager. Very angsty and feeling all the feelings, and there’s lots of discussions in her journals that we have little excerpts of about periods and how she never wants to have a child. It’s like a mind warp, you know, the idea that you can then bear children. And she’s dealing with that and having all of these thoughts about it. And it’s really interesting because she has decided not to talk to her mom, Makiko. And she hasn’t talked to her in like a year. So they live together, but they haven’t been talking. And it’s very teenagery. And so the tone and the style of the first section of this novel are very, very set on this summer experience of them visiting the narrator and that experience. It has a very particular tone. And then when you get to the second book in the novel, it just totally changes.
Sachi: I feel like the first book is so focused on these three women and very focused on the decision for Makiko to consider this surgery. And then the introspective thoughts in the journal of Midoriko and how those decisions are affecting her as the daughter—and why, you know, her way of thinking of I don’t want children, and I have these eggs coming out of me when I have my period every month, and I don’t even watch children. Like, it’s so unfair that, you know, I have to go through this—is such a focus. Natsu’s in this story, but it’s very much centered between this mother and daughter. And then we go into the second book where it’s truly mainly just focused on Natsu and her decision on whether she wants to have a child. Then you hear from Makiko and Midoriko occasionally in the second part. But it’s very much more focused on Natsu versus the three of them primarily in the first book.
Kendra: And the second book also expands, you know, looking at Natsu and expands to other women that are in her family. It’s also ten-ish years later. It’s, you know, Midoriko has grown up, and she is in college and has a boyfriend and like all this stuff. And so Natsu is faced with the end of her years of fertility and whether or not she wants to have a child. And she doesn’t use the word “asexuality” in the book, to be clear. But she makes it very clear that she is a type of person who does not want to have sex. And she’s tried it, didn’t like it. She can fall in love. So she’s not a-romantic, but she just doesn’t want anything to do that. But it’s the complex feelings of, well, you know, in her experience, you have to have sex to have a child. Those things have to go together. And then she begins exploring sperm donors, and it just takes you down this whole different journey.
Sachi: Yes, the focus on having children via a sperm donor and some of the legal obstacles in Japanese culture. . . . You know, she if she were to find an organization to find a sperm donor, it would have to be outside of Japan because there are laws requiring that you have to pretty much be like a heterosexual couple in order to get that done . . . as her as a single parent would likely have to look outside of Japan, which has its own problems. Right? But then also the conversations of, from the child’s perspective, what it is like when they find out that they were conceived via a sperm donor and might not know or be able to find who their true father is. I guess I never really realized that. You know, I’ve read different books and seen movies and media and things where a sperm donor is considered or used, and it never talks about when that child grows up and finds out that they don’t really know who their true father is, how that can be extremely traumatic and scarring for that individual. That’s deeply explored in this book. And I’ve never really thought or considered that when that is brought up in various stories.
Kendra: And there’s even touched on this man who is a speaker, and his dad was infertile. And so he is the product of a sperm donor, but he didn’t find out until much later in his life. And so there is a discussion of that pressure that his mom had to have a child. And, you know, of course, the woman is blamed. And so some of the secrecy about sperm donors and, like, you go to this clinic and all this stuff. So it was just this whole conversation about having children also. Like, is it, you know, in today’s day and age with everything going on, is it moral to have a child?
And the author talks about, in an interview, that this conversation that’s in the novel is inspired much by her own experience of choosing to have a child. And so she said that when she did have a child, that many people were disappointed in her. A lot of feminists were disappointed in her for choosing to have a child. But she said this was something that she wanted. And she did seriously consider. But this was her choice. And that’s something she wanted to portray in the novel as well.
Sachi: Yeah, that’s very interesting. And I feel like you can tell or feel that in the story as well because, like we said there are in the book two, a lot of female characters . . . a lot of them are either artists or kind of in the literary world with Natsu, who is a novelist. They have differing opinions. And they bring those to the table when she’s kind of telling her friends, hey, I’m considering having a child and using a sperm donor and things like that. The differing opinions, I feel like, show different facets of what various women can think about a decision like this. And you saying that you heard that in an interview that this is, you know, partially based off of her decision. . . . I wonder if she got some of that, those differing perspectives and decided to include them in the novel?
Kendra: Well, I’m sure she did. She talked about how difficult it was. And I mean, she didn’t specify, like, how she had a child. She didn’t go into those details. She mainly talked about just the choice to have a child, period. And that’s also talked about in the book. And it reminded me a lot of some of the conversation around Nicole Chung’s memoir about her interracial adoption and, you know, discovering her biological family and coming to terms with that. I don’t think the average person thinks about these kinds of things. As someone who, if I were to have children, would have to go through adoption, I’ve thought about it a lot. And so I just found it very engaging to read attacks like this and engage with it in that way in an intellectual way. And it’s just very thought provoking. I’m just gushing at this point. But you know.
Sachi: Yeah. Well, even in the book too, they mention the differences between an open and closed adoption and how they’re trying to push that in the sperm donor world as well, to open more of the donor information. So if a child does want to find who their father is, they have the ability to do that. And yeah, I felt like a lot of that was reflected in Nicole Chung’s book as well, talking about the difference between opened and closed adoption, which I didn’t really know a lot about adoption before I read that book. I think it came out two years ago now? Those differences on whether an adoption is open or closed greatly affects the legal ramifications of whether or not you as a child can find who your biological parents are. And so that ties in very, you know, relevantly to this book. And I definitely got some of those vibes as well as I was reading this.
Kendra: And the author also said she didn’t want to give definite answers to all of these questions that are raised in the book. And I really appreciate that because it’s more like she’s just presenting you with this information and these thought experiments through these characters’ conversations and the choices that they make in the end, which we won’t spoil.
Sachi: Of course.
Kendra: But she’s more asking you to think about these things yourself and come to your own conclusions, but address this information and to confront it because I think so many people just think if they have a child, they’ll have a biological child, and like all this information. But for many people, it’s not that straightforward.
Sachi: Even in the story too, like when she mentions to her friends, hey, I’m thinking about this. They’re like, well, have you really thought about it? She’s like, Hey, I’ve been thinking about this for two years. Like, there’s all these things you consider, and you get the breadth of that, the heaviness of the decision and all the options and things like that, things to consider in this book, which I really appreciated, because a lot of the times I feel like books give one specific viewpoint on, you know, character makes a decision on this. They evaluate maybe one or two things, and then they proceed. And it’s . . . you don’t marinate on that decision a lot. And in this one, you can definitely tell that she didn’t just come up with this on a whim, to, you know, I want to do this. It’s like, no, this has literally been consuming my life for various years. And there’s so many things that weigh down this decision. And you can feel that in this book.
Kendra: There are a lot of women in this book who have children or who make the decision to not have children. And so, like for her sister, Makiko got pregnant when she was younger. There’s another writer who was with the man but is no longer with a man. So she is also single and raising a child. There’s a woman who chooses not to have children. And so you see the different ways that women end up on their own raising a child or you see a woman who’s chosen not to have a child. So you see these women on their own making these different decisions. And it’s like all of the arguments that people tell her why she shouldn’t have children, there’s a character to counteract that. And I found that very interesting, the way that the characters themselves and what different facets of motherhood they represented were very well thought out. And it’s just a very well-done book. I was fascinated. I could probably reread it, and we could talk another two hours about it.
Sachi: I agree. And that’s the thing with it being, you know, 430 pages. When I first got it in the mail, I was like, oh my god, this is a thick book. Like what? Like, how are we going to talk for 400 pages about breasts and eggs. I thought it was going to be like a 200-page thin novel or whatever. But like, you really are getting a lot of awesome content. And I felt like I flew through it in, you know, not very many sittings because the content is so enriching, and there’s so many different viewpoints, and you’re hearing from all of these great female perspectives that I felt like it didn’t drag. And honestly, I probably could have read another hundred pages. And I feel like it’s a real testament to Mieko Kawakami’s investment probably personally as well in the story.
Kendra: So I will link that L.A. Review of Books interview podcast in the show notes if you want to go hear her talk about that. And I will link the book club where the two translators talk about their process of translating as well. So if you want to go and hear more about that, you will have that information. So that is Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd. And that is out from Europa. And Sachi, you have our next discussion pick.
Sachi: Yes. So our next discussion pick is The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa. And that’s translated by Stephen Snyder, and this is out from Pantheon Books. And we . . . not exactly intentionally . . . but ended up both picking Japanese-translated works from Japanese women. Consequently too, we realized today that both books feature female novelists as the protagonist. So two very different stories, but similar types of occupations for each of our protagonists. And then obviously, both the authors being Japanese women.
But this was originally published in 1994 and then translated in 2019. Like we mentioned in the previous episode, just a quick synopsis because this is a very kind of sci-fi type book. . . . The novelist is unnamed. She’s an unnamed protagonist. Lives on an island controlled by The Memory Police. And things start disappearing, “disappear.” But like literally, physically also disappearing. And The Memory Police are tasked with removing all items and memories related to the thing that has disappeared. The more time progresses, the more severe the types of things start disappearing. I think the book opens up with one of the first things disappearing is birds. And they like have to . . .like . . . all the birds disappear from the sky and stuff. And like. . . . The protagonist, her father had studied birds. So they had to, like, destroy all of his notes on different birds and all these things. And they can’t talk about them anymore.
And then, you know, collectively, as things disappear over time, the people in the country also start having trouble remembering those things. So, like, people don’t even remember what like the word “bird” is and things. And it’s just a really, like, trippy and kind of interesting premise and thought process. And so, you know, the main theme, as you can probably tell, is memory. And, you know, the focus on memory is so strong. I felt . . . I think when I was jotting down notes for this book towards the very end, I’m like . . . memory itself is like a character in the book.
And, you know, I felt like the way we remember things and how memory affects us as a society and culture is deeply explored in this book. And I’d never really thought of memory that hard. Right? It’s like, when do you sit down and think about, like, your memories and how they affect you and things like that? I hadn’t really before until I read this book. I was very much impacted by it. And it very introspectively made me think about, you know, how you remember things and how that influences what your beliefs are and things like that. And after reading it, I was like, I really want to see what Kendra’s thoughts are on how memory was portrayed in the book and if it made you think about memory differently.
Kendra: I thought a lot about the desire to control memory. So you think about, you know, the victor writes the history books kind of idea . . . and destruction of cultures by trying to remove that cultural memory, whether with language or just writing history or not allowing people to speak their own language—just that kind of role of society because The Memory Police are actual physical people who invade homes, looking for people who can actually remember things and destroying them, essentially. And it just made me think of that a lot. I remember, is it Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien? And how when the Chinese revolution happened, there was a lot of Communist propaganda, and there’s a lot of themes with music. And you have to get rid of all these Western. . . .
Sachi: Influences and yeah.
Kendra: Yes. And the compositions and destroying and the burning of the music. And like, that’s kind of like the visions I was getting while reading this book.
Sachi: I didn’t think of that. But yeah. That’s exactly, you know, in line with some of the themes from this book. I think I mentioned in the previous episode, a lot of what I was reminded of was like Rahrenheit 451 and things like World War Two and 1984 and things like that. But Do Not Say We Have Nothing would also align with some of the things that The Memory Police do in this book. And if you’re as a historical fiction person or a person who likes to watch some of those World War Two movies and stuff where, you know, they are inflicting force. In this case, The Memory Police barges in, and they’re like, where’s all your stuff on X, Y, Z? And it’s like super scary. I’m like, I would read chapters with The Memory Police, and I would be like, that was extremely terrifying. Like, I’m like holding my breath as I’m reading to be like, oh, what are they going to do? Like it’s so terrifying. If you like that kind of stuff, you might like this book. But it’s very reminiscent of those narratives as well on, you know, these oppressive forces that are looking to censor and control the thoughts and the narrative and the culture of people that they’re trying to oppress.
Kendra: Definitely. Yeah. Because there is a. . . . No one’s really named in the book. So we have the narrator and then we have R, who’s her editor for her novels. And then he, though, can remember things, so he has to go into hiding. This is really early on the book, so not a spoiler.
Sachi: Yes, yeah.
Kendra: And he hides in her house in this little room. And it reminded me of like as a kid when I first read about the Holocaust. And, you know, the diary of Anne Frank and like hiding people there. And it’s like a similar idea where you’re trying to hide them, and then like they’re trying to do genetic tests on them to see if their ability to remember things is hereditary and all of this stuff. And yeah, very intense moments when The Memory Police invade houses and look for hidden people.
Sachi: Yeah, it’s insane. Like, I was just so tense. But then also, I was like, I couldn’t stop reading. Right? I’m like flipping through so quickly in those chapters and stuff, which I felt like was very compelling.
There’s also a kind of a story within a story in this book. It is one of the stories that the unnamed protagonist is writing throughout the book. And I feel like this is like a classic thing to do in literature where the story within the story is a reflection of the actual story that you’re reading. And I felt like (A.) The story, I feel like, was really just interesting. I was like, I’d read this. This sounds cool. And then (B.), the further along you get through it, and you realize like, oh, this is just really emphasizing the thoughts and feelings of the characters. And you’re flowing in and out of the two stories to emphasize the true points of each. By the time you get to the end of that short story that she is writing, I just felt even more connected to the actual prose of the book because I just felt like I was understanding it better by getting this narrative story that she was writing in addition to, like, what Yoko Ogawa was writing. Right? So I really liked that that aspect of the book. I don’t know what your thoughts were on if that worked for you or not, but I thought it worked.
Kendra: Yeah. I really . . . I really liked that, seeing the creativity there from the narrator. And on the audiobook, those sections are marked by this wooshing ocean sound because they’re on an island.
Sachi: Oh! Really? Okay, cool.
Kendra: It’s really interesting. At first, I was looking around like, where is the nature sound?
Sachi: You’re like, what’s happening?
Kendra: And I realized it was on the audiobook. I was like, this is what happens when you listen late at night, Kendra.
Kendra: But the story is about a typist. And she’s locked in a tower by her typing teacher. And as the stories progress, you notice those similarities in the mirroring. And there’s a similar theme of disappearing and losing your individuality and your own individual voice. That’s in the two books. And, you know, because they’re on an island, and it’s very insular, it reminded me of other kind of weird societies like The Giver, where there’s an evil regime ruling over this insular society. And what starts out seeming kind of normal-ish is obviously very not very quickly.
Kendra: And the fact that they’re trapped on this island creates this like—I don’t want to say like locked room kind of idea—but it’s like no one . . .they have no communication with the outside. And so it’s like, all you have is this island and these people. And there’s no opportunity to escape that really. You just have to live with what you you have.
Sachi: Yeah, I agree. When I read that this was an island and things like that, I immediately just envisioned this as Japan. Right? Because Japan is also an island. Did you think that as well? I was wondering if you would have immediately thought that or if you were just kind of thinking just a remote island, random country type, random society?
Kendra: Well, I thought it might be like an island off the coast of Japan because I know there are lots of islands off the coast and different things.
Sachi: There are, yeah.
Kendra: So I thought it was just like an island in Japan somewhere. And since there’s a ferry, that implied a mainland.
Sachi: Yep, that’s true. Yeah. And there’s an earthquake. So I was like, okay, this has got to be in the Japan-type area. Right? Like heavy earthquake area. And that’s like definitely a normal part of, you know, everyday living for them in Japan is there’s always earthquakes and such. So.
Kendra: Yeah, and there’s tsunamis. There’s a giant wave after the earthquake. And it was interesting when calendars disappear, like the seasons quit changing.
Sachi: I know.
Kendra: I was like, what?
Sachi: I know! I feel like we talked about this a little in the previous episode, but part of me was fine not having all of the details, like on how exactly the disappearing worked. But yeah, like when the calendar thing happened, I’m like, can you please explain to me why it’s winter all the time now. I get no more birds in the sky or whatever. And you know, some physical things disappearing. But I was like, how do you get the weather and it stays the same. I didn’t understand that.
And like, I do this with my husband sometimes where I just like . . . I’m so engrossed in a book that I have to talk to someone about it. He’s just like closest proximity. And every time something would disappear, I’d be like, oh! And then he’d be like, what disappeared? And then I would be like, calendars! And he’s like, oh, so people just don’t know what day of the week it is? And I’m like, yeah, but they just said it’s all winter now. And he’s like, what?? I’m like, yeah, I don’t know! I don’t get it.
Kendra: Poor Austin. He’s read like half of like X amount of books vicariously through you at this point.
Sachi: I know! But every time though, like, it was interesting to see when something disappeared, you kind of get the follow up in the following sentences and paragraphs of like how immediately it affected people and then how it starts affecting people over the weeks. And it is very interesting. Like Yoko Ogawa does a really awesome job at just like envisioning how tangibly these types of disappearances could affect people. . . . Because every time something had disappeared, I’m like, okay, what’s going to happen next? What’s going to happen when X, Y, Z disappears? And I feel like it’s fairly believable, you know, minus the weather thing. I’m still confused by that. But.
Kendra: Yeah, it’s fascinating. It’s almost like someone gave her a writing prompt, like imagine this world and follow it to its logical end. And that’s kind of what I felt the story was because nothing is explained in the end, like nothing is really resolved or anything like that, which is fine. And so it’s more like what would happen if this was a place or a thing or whatever? So I’d be very interested in a companion novel about maybe the mainland and what was going on there during that time. Like, I just want to know more about this world that she’s created.
Sachi: I agree. And I feel like where . . . to your point that . . . it is an ambiguous ending. So if you’re looking for. . . . If you’re one of those readers who want a nice bow tied up at the end, this is probably not the book for you.
Kendra: There are no bows here.
Sachi: I know. I am not one of those people. I enjoy ambiguous endings. I feel like they’re more realistic. So I very much liked this ending. But I felt like if if she wanted to go for another hundred pages on like the continuation of okay, here’s the the time-skipper epilogue or even just a continuation, like there’s still more that you could discover, which I thought was very interesting. And to me, led my brain to kind of go, okay, this is kind of what I think could have happened after the last sentence is finished. And I think readers could take their own understanding of what could happen after the last sentence of this book is breathed. Right? There’s a lot of places it could go. And I really liked that, just like speculating to myself, you know, what would happen after this story kind of ends because I feel like there’s a lot of different things that you could speculate.
Kendra: I definitely want to pick up her backlist because she has a lot of translated backlist.
Sachi: Yes, she does. And I have a lot of copies of her backlist. I just . . . shame on me for not picking them up yet. I have a couple of them. And now I’m like, I really want to read her other things too. And like, I was shocked when I Googled when this was originally published. I would have never guessed that this was published in 1994. Like, that was the same year my sister was born. I feel like . . . and maybe that’s a testament to the translator or whatever. I don’t know like how true it is to the original story—if they’ve maybe modernized some things or whatever. But like this premise even just, you know, being how old it is, I’m like, that is so stinking cool. Like. How awesome. I was very impressed by the story. And obviously, we’re not going to give spoilers, but this book takes some wild directions. And I really enjoyed the latter half of how some of the things are laid out and then not tied up, kind of, at the end. So.
Kendra: Yeah, yeah, definitely.
Sachi: So that was our last discussion pick, The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa. And that was translated by Stephen Snyder and out from Pantheon Books.