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“In Commemoration of Radioactive Half-Life” by Yuko Tsushima

“In Commemoration of Radioactive Half-Life” (my translation / not translated yet) by Yuko Tsushima


This is the last work of Yuko Tsushima, whose stories have been translated into many languages and are highly acclaimed internationally. Her themes were diverse, including the Ainu culture, Taiwan, and Mongolia. Her style is sophisticated and unique, from which sadness emanates. Her father is Osamu Dazai.


This book consists of 3 short stories which were published between 2014 and 2016. I like “New York, New York” the best. The protagonist is a single mother Toyoko. She works for a branch office of an American bank whose headquarters is located in New York. She always says “Ask me anything about New York” despite the fact that she has never been to New York. Her dream was to visit New York by the age of 40. However, that dream never comes true and she dies when she is 42.


The story unfolds itself with awkward conversations between her son and his father in a family restaurant. As they reminisce about Toyoko, what NY really represented for her starts dawning on his father gradually. It was not her dream city, something she longed for. It was probably revenge, another possible life, vengeance, abandonment, or disappointment.


We will read and discuss “A Very Strange, Enchanted Boy” by Yuko Tsushima and “Merry Christmas” by Osamu Dazai on Sundays, November 29 and December 20 respectively. The details are on my website.

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