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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #792, The Secret Life of a Tokyo Housewife

Sun, 10/31/2021 - 7:25pm by muffy

fault_linesFault Lines is London-based freelance journalist and travel writer Emily Itami’s “brilliant”(Booklist) debut novel. 

Set in contemporary Tokyo, on the surface Mizuki should be the envy of her peers - a beautiful apartment with a view of the city’s skyline, a successful husband, two adorable children, and fashionable friends, and yet, she often thinks about throwing herself off the high-rise balcony. In truth, Mizuki struggles with an absent and neglectful husband, demanding and ill-tempered children, and laments the choices she made. Once a promising jazz singer who spent some years in New York, she now takes odd assignments as tour guide and language/cultural interpreter for foreigners when she is not attending to the needs of her family. 

Then, on a rainy night, she meets Kiyoshi, a successful restaurateur. In him she finds an attentive listener, friendship and adventure. Together, they rediscovers the city -  tucked-away neighborhoods, the sweet shop like the one Mizuki's father once owned, French cafes and historic geisha homes, and a memorable stroll at cherry blossom time. Soon she finds herself living two lives. And it would take a natural catastrophe for Mizuki to realize that she must make a choice. 

“While a somewhat pat ending feels unworthy of the novel's provocative premise, Itami makes palpable Mizuki's loneliness and her need to feel seen. Itami's brave, frank portrayal of Japan's societal expectations of women is worth a look.” (Publishers Weekly)   Timely, in view of recent events and controversies in Japan.

Check out The New York Times Book Review.

 

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