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“The Hut on the Roof” by Hiromi Kawakami

The protagonist is 42 years old and divorced. She lives near a shopping street (shotengai), where a fishmonger, a greengrocer, a chicken shop owner meddle with her life. As opposed to supermarkets, people’s relationships are more intimate there. She is unable to sleep well next to a man unfamiliar to her, which is why she got divorced. Although she’s dating with another man now, she gradually gets not to be able to sleep beside him either.

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I believe it’s partly because she can’t understand what the other person has experienced. Probably, we cannot really understand what other people have experienced. However, we could at least share or rather make them overlap with each other. That way, we can continue to live. This story seems to be conveying that message. There appears a man who lost his wife in the story, who now lives together with another man who was once her lover. They share what they lost. Also, the protagonist is forced to share her life with people in shotengai, and gradually changes.


With Kawakami’s crisp prose, masterful depictions of shotengai, and philosophical touch, this is a wonderful read.

 

If you haven’t participated in my Japanese literature discussion classes yet, you could attend one class for free!


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