Ogawa Yôko 小川 洋子 is a highly praised female Japanese author, born in 1962. She began writing short stories in 1986. She started with Agehachō ga kowareru toki 揚羽蝶が壊れる時 (The Breaking of the Butterfly) and won the Kaien literary Prize instantly for her debut. Since then she wrote about ten novels and many short stories. Many of them are translated into Chinese, Korean, French, German, English and more languages.
My favorites are The Housekeeper and the Professor 博士の愛した数式 and Hotel Iris ホテル・アイリス. I have not read all of her works yet, so I was especially excited to read one of her recent story collections. I chose Revenge.
To begin with, it was not a joy. Yôko Ogawa has a strange style. She begins with a pretty, nice setting, her protagonists are often young and innocent, sometimes a little naive. Everything is clean and nice in the beginning and then, there is something disturbing, disgusting appearing on the scene. Not for everybody’s taste. And I must admit, that I was kind of disturbed by some of her stories. Yes, I have to admit, I did not like most of the stories.
It took me some time, to write a review about this book, and first I thought, I do not want to write about it, but on the other hand, I finished reading it, and there are some stories I would recommend. The Last Hour of the Bengal Tiger, Old Mrs J. and Tomatoes and the Full Moon.
The thing is, you have to read them all, because what Ogawa Yôko did, she binds them altogether. All stories are independent, but some of the characters are connected to other stories. The main character or theme of one story appears aside in another story seen under different light, surprising the reader many times. So she webs the stories altogether without making a novel out of it. Therefore I have to admit, she wrote an excellent work and you have to take it all, if you like it or not.
Ogawa Yôko: Revenge, 2013. translated by Stephen Snyder.