March 2, 2024 | Rome, Italy

Vibrator

By |2018-03-21T18:28:01+01:00January 1st, 2007|Recent Reviews|

By Mari Akasaka, translated from the Japanese by Michael Emmerich

Faber and Faber, 2005 (1999). 130 pages.

A

ppealing entry into the Japanese fiction of loneliness and estrangement. Narrator Rei is a bulimic freelancer who vomits for sport. Drifting, she falls for a CB-toting trucker named Okabe Takatoshi. What follows is a Japanese road movie (in fact, “Vibrator,” written in 1999, was filmed in 2003).

At first, Akasaka makes Okabe into everything a Tokyo party boy isn’t: tough, laconic, and clear-eyed. But Rei is lost in space. “The only thing I truly desired,” she says before sex, “was my own liquefaction.” The reference is not to orgasm but self-effacement. Akasaka gradually nudges her introverted wild child closer to Okabe, in essence merging worlds and giving Rei a taste of the tangible. A well-built little novel.

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