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(Book Review / 感想) Common Ground / Naomi Ishiguro

As a Japanese national who moved to the UK in mid-2019 to live with my British husband, Naomi Ishiguro’s Common Ground served to remind me of all those moments and things experienced in conversations with my British friends that they might never have even thought or known if they hadn’t talked about them with me. 2019年の中旬にイギリスに渡った日本人である私。ナオミ・イシグロの小説「Common Ground」を読んで思い出したのは、イギリスにおける生活の中で疑問に思ったことや違和感があったことをイギリス人の友人にシェアしたときの気持ち、「そんなことが起きているなんて」と驚くイギリス人の友人たちの反応。 The book – set in the early 2000s – tells the story of two young boys, Stan and Charlie. Stan lives in a suburban English town, and is struggling with his family and friends. Charlie, who is slightly older than him, is from a Traveler family. One day they happen to find each…

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(Book Review / 感想) There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job / Kikuko Tsumura * この世にたやすい仕事はない / 津村 記久子

I think your job is something everyone struggles with to some extent. The type of work, the hours, relationships etc. I enjoy my job, but even I feel like I want something easier or perhaps ‘more fun’, sometimes. 仕事って、誰しも何らかの不満や悩みを抱えているものだと思います。それは仕事の内容にかもしれないし、労働時間や人間関係かもしれない。仕事を楽しんでいるつもりの私ですが、時々もっと楽な仕事や、もっと面白い仕事があるはずだ…なんて思ってしまう時もあります。 I first read this book in Japanese when I had just started working in London. I was really struggling to get used to a whole new environment and was exhausted with thoughts of how I needed to commit to the job and prove to others that I could do things well. But this book really ended up making me feel better, telling me – as the title says – There’s No…

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(Book Review / 感想) That Reminds Me / Derek Owusu

Have you ever felt like negative memories have trapped you; happy memories overtaken, deep in your thoughts? ネガティブな記憶に追い込まれてしまうような気持ち、幸せな記憶が塗り替えられて、考え込んでしまうような気持ち… This book reminded me of the times I’ve been caught by dispair, feeling trapped within society, within my own mind. この本はそんな社会に閉じ込められるような、自分自身の心の闇に留まっているような、「絶望感」を思い起こします。 The spider illustration used throughout the book – gradually forming a complete web towards the end – made me ponder what the author was trying to say by including these images. 各章のはじめに付いている蜘蛛の絵は、段々と蜘蛛の巣を形作っていく。これには著者のどんな想いが込められているのか。 The story is written in a beautifully poetic style, composed of very small chapters made up of short scenes. I read through the whole book as if I was enjoying a collage of fragmented memories! 詩的な美しい文章で書かれている本作、短い各章の中にさらに小さなパラグラフで印象的なシーンを描いています。まるで記憶の欠片を覗き見ているような感覚です。 This book is…

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(Book Review / 感想) Clap When You Land / Elizabeth Acevedo

I just came across a book that I think will be one of my favourite books this year! ‘Clap When You Land’ by Elizabeth Acevedo is aimed at a YA audience but was such a gripping book, even for adults, I just couldn’t put it down. It’s written in a colloquial verse style and beautifully phrased. ‘Clap When You Land’はドミニカ系アメリカ人作家のElizabeth Acevedoによるフィクション。ヤングアダルト向けですが、大人が読んでも惹き込まれます。全編が口語調の詩のように書かれていて、まるで音楽のようなスタイルです。 The story starts off with an airplane crash, inspired by a true incident just a few months after 9/11 happened. Most of the passengers were Dominican. 9/11の直後に起きた実際の飛行機墜落事故をモデルに書かれたフィクション。乗客はほぼ全員がドミニカ共和国の方だったそう。 It’s a story about two sisters losing their father, one in the US, one in the Dominican Republic. They find out about…

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(Book Review / 感想) Manazuru / Hiromi Kawakami * 真鶴 / 川上弘美

The protagonist Kei’s husband – Rei – disappeared 12 years ago. Kei’s life continues, but her feelings have been left somewhere else, along with her memories; she is constantly meditating on her life and her future. One day, she visits the seaside town Manazuru, and as if some magical power is leading her there, she keeps revisiting. 主人公は京、夫の礼は12年前に失踪しました。その後も京の日常は続いていくのですが、思い出に浸り、過去や未来の間をさまよい瞑想しています。ある日、何かの力に導かれるように海沿いの町 真鶴を訪れるようになります。 The book mainly focuses on her relationship with her missing husband, and is told through Kei’s memories and reflections. I really enjoyed the subtle explanations about three women living together in one house; the protagonist Kei, her elderly mother, and her teenage daughter Momo. The story depicts the distance between them…

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(Book Review / 感想) BUTTER / 柚木麻子 * BUTTER / Asako Yuzuki

BUTTER was inspired by the famous crime case of Kanae Kjima in 2009, who was sentenced with the death penalty for conducting a series of murders while taking part in ‘Konkatsu’ (marriage hunting), specifically targeting men seeking marriage. Because of this unusual setting – and her strong personality – the media reported this sensationally, with lurid details about her remarks and crimes; including her sex life and the amount of money she earned from the ex-boyfriends (who she’d killed). BUTTERは、実際の事件をベースに書かれたフィクション、「婚活事件」としてニュースで話題になっていた、木嶋佳苗死刑囚がモデルです。彼女の発言や性格、男性たちとのこと、様々な憶測を盛り込みつつ、センセーショナルに報道された事件でした。 Despite the public curiosity towards the case, a great deal of mystery continued to surround her, in particular regarding how the media described her appearance negatively (or more precisely, the…

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(Book Review / 感想) Earthlings / Sayaka Murata * 地球星人 / 村田沙耶香

Having lived in London for a long enough now to be able to explain the difference between life in Japan and life in the UK, I’d say the sense of societal peer pressure, in particular, is much stronger in Japan. I’m certain everyone in Japan has the feeling it’s just all too much, at one point or other in their lives. However, the overwhelming conformity gradually pushes you back onto the ‘correct’ track to follow. Society just won’t let you drop off the route you ‘should’ take. イギリスと日本の違いについて、なんとなく答えられるくらいには長くイギリスに住んだかなと思う最近、日本の同調圧力は特に大きな違いだなと感じています。きっと、日本でも誰しもが、他人に合わせるなんて「もう充分」と感じることが一度や二度はあると思うのですが、それでもどこかで思い直し、指定されたルートや、正しい道に戻っていく…そんな感覚。脱線なんてさせない、そんな圧力。 Sayaka Murata’s award-winning novel ‘Convenience Store Woman’ was a big success, even in its English translation. However, I felt at times that…

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(Book Review / 感想) How Much of These Hills Is Gold / C Pam Zhang

I was luckily part of #HowMuchOfTheseHillsIsGold#Readalong .This book was set in America’s Western gold rush period but came from the very unique angle of writing about a family of Chinese descent and the struggles of immigrants and cultural heritage.This was a topic I had never heard of before, and this book felt like it helped me learn a new page in world history.The author’s writing is very beautiful, in particular the landscape as seen through Lucy’s eyes felt so real. With lots of metaphors and quite abstract writing, it was sometimes a bit difficult for me to clearly understand what was going on, however, the more I read, the more I loved…

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(Book Review / 感想) The Mystery of Henri Pick / David Foenkinos

It’s such an interesting book about how stories are written, created and told. Very subtle and beautiful but really comical at the same time.The mystery part of this book was very beautifully written, but I personally think this book is not necessarily for mystery fans, it might be more appealing to literary fans. To avoid potential spoilers, I’m not going to write a detailed synopsis here, but the story starts at the library of rejected books, where unpublished manuscripts are stored. The young editor finds an extraordinary masterpiece hidden in the shelf! Who wrote this? – the book was so gripping and I found myself wondering all the way through…

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(Book Review / 感想) The Dutch House / Ann Patchett

#TheDutchHouse was such an interesting book that hooked me straight into the story of an unfortunate life of a family and a house.The characters were all so powerful, but at the same time, I thought every one of them was super unlikable!!! After finishing this book, I cannot stop imagining how the house would look like, and the portrait of Maeve… How do we consider people’s relationships with their house, such as the bonds and emotion with the physical structure and how it will become part of the history of the old buildings all around it… Participating in the #Readalong has always been fun, but especially for this one, exchanging the ideas of…

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(Book Review / 感想) Where the Crawdads Sing / Delia Owens * ザリガニの鳴くところ / ディーリア・オーエンズ

#WhereTheCrawdadsSing has been on my TBR list for quite a long time. Because it’s super popular in the US, I was hesitant to start, what if I don’t like it? lolIt took me a while to get into, especially the first few chapters of the book. It sounded like a very typical poor kids in a disadvantaged background kind of story, however, the unique setting of this book and the very strong protagonist made this reading experience extraordinarily fantastic, that I could not stop turning the pages for the last half of the book! I want to avoid any sort of potential spoilers, so let me just say, it’s not a…

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(Book Review / 感想) Hamnet / Maggie O’Farrell

I was part of the #HamnetReadAlong and enjoyed this book so much that I had to write a little review about it (which I don’t normally do for the readalongs!!!) This book was about the beautiful love and loss of the family of famous playwright William Shakespeare. Written through the eyes of his wife Anne Hathaway, it perfectly captured the relationship between parents and children, siblings and relatives in fine detail. In this book, Shakespeare’s name is never mentioned. The effect of this is to better spotlight Anne, and brings a completely new perspective to the reader. Also, it’s worth noting that in the book Anne is called Agnes and the title…

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