Author: Yōko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder
From the back: Murderers and mourners, mothers and children, lovers and innocent bystanders – locked in the embrace of an ominous and darkly beautiful web, their fates all converge through the eleven stories here in Yoko Ogawa’s Revenge. As tales of the macabre pass from character to character – an aspiring writer, a successful surgeon, a cabaret singer, a lonely craftsman – Ogawa provides us with a slice of life that is resplendent in its chaos, enthralling in its passion and chilling in its cruelty.
The gist: With The Memory Police being one of my all-time favourite books, I’ve been meaning to pick up more of Ogawa’s work for a while, and Revenge really hits the spot. Ogawa has a subtle and calm, but slightly sinister way with words, and reading their work is both a relaxing and unnerving experience. Whilst each story sits apart, they’re all interlinked and there was a real pleasure in being pulled through them, following the threads as they crossed and overlapped—for me it’s almost the readerly equivalent of people-watching, the same sensation, of making up stories behind the casual coincidences, ending up in the strangest of places. As a side note if you’re into that sort of format then I can also recommend Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock, albeit that makes for perhaps slightly bleaker reading, as you might expect from Pollock.
Revenge certainly lived up to my expectations, and I highly recommend it, a beautiful, odd and strangely satisfying collection.
Favourite line: her eyes were set widely apart in a way that gave the middle of her face a strange blankness.
Read if: You enjoy unsettling yet strangely beautiful, interwoven stories
Read with: Plenty of time to savour each story, time to pause, time to carry on.
Get it: Revenge by Yōko Ogawa