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“The Hole” by Hiroko Oyamada

Oyamada was awarded with the Akutagawa Prize for this work. She was born in Hiroshima in 1983. As I was born in the same year, there are many parts I can identify with all the more for that. I usually try to read the works of the authors of my age, so I’m looking forward to discovering more of her stories.

This story deals with varied themes such as family, shut-ins (hikikomori), and above all identity. What is work? What is family? Who is “I”? The title “The Hole” is ominous by itself. We are apt to fall into a pit unconsciously. It absorbs and transforms us until we have become something else. Oyamada’s writing is unique in that it appeals to our senses, especially the strong smell which fauna and flora evoke. I also liked various nuances and subtleties in the dialogues and demeanors of the characters of different generations.

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