Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, August 26, 2017

"Magnet" - A Short Story by Amy Yamada (January, 2017, translated by the author from Japanese)

Japanese Literature on The Reading Life

You may read "Magnet" on the Website of Words Without Borders, January, 2017

Information on Women in Translation- August, 2017

Information on Japanese Literature Challenge 11 -Hosted by Dolce Bellezza

Short stories I have read so far for Women In Translation Month - August, 2017

  1. "Happy New Year" by Ajaat Cour - Translated from Punjabi
  2. "The Floating Forest" by Natsuo Kirino- Translated from Japanese
  3. " A Home Near the Sea" by Kamala Das - Translated from Malayalam
  4. "Maria" by Dacia Maraini- Translated from Italian
  5. "Zletka" by Maja Hrgovic - Translated from Croatian
  6. "Arshingar" by Jharna Raham - Translated from Bengali
  7. "Tsipke" by Salomea Perl - Translated from Yiddish
  8. "Mother" by Urmilaw Pawar - Translated from Marathi
  9. "My Creator, My Creation" by Tiina Raevaara - Translated from Finnish
  10. "Cast Offs" by Wajida Tabassum - Translated from Urdu
  11. It's All Up to You" by Slywia Chutnik - Translated from Polish
  12. "Covert Joy" by Clarice Lispector- Translated from Portuguese 
  13. "The Daughter, The Wife, and the Mother" by Arupa Kilita - Translated from Assam
  14. "Red Glow of the New Moon" by Kundanika Kapadia - translated from Gujarati
  15. "Breaking Point" by Usha Mahajan- translated from Hindu
  16. "The Gentleman Thief" by Goli Taraghi - translated from Persian
  17. "Spider Web" by Mariana Enriguez- translated from Spanish
  18. "My New Home" by Glaydah Namukasa - translated from Swahil
  19. "Maybe Not Yem" by Etik Juwita - translated from Indonesia 
  20. "Baking the National Cake" by Hilda Twongyeirne - translated from Runyankole, also called Nkore
  21. "The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons" by Goli Taraghi - translated from Persian
  22. "Magnet" by Amy Yamada - translated from Japanese

Amy Yamada, along with writers like Ryu Murakami, is known for sexually explicit fiction focusing on people involved in life styles and activities outside the common place norms of acceptable behavior.  "Magnet" is narrated by a woman in her twenties.  Her boyfriend, with whom she is sexually active, is an attorney. She had just her in social media that a male teacher of hers, from when she was thirteen, had been charged with molesting his female pupils.  She slowly and at first reluctantly reveals to her boyfriend how she used sex to become "the favorite" of the teacher.  Yamada, or at least she did for me, almost draws us into complicity with her artistically rendered descriptions of their growing sexual involvement. All this is very skillfully told through the woman's memories.

"It didn’t take much time before word spread that I was Yamamoto’s favorite. I found it amusing when I felt a jealous girl’s eyes on me. His favorite? Much more than that. You’d die if you knew what he did to me in the resource room.
Yamamoto would sit me on the desk in the room. The first time he unbuttoned my white uniform shirt, his fingers trembled. Day by day, more buttons came undone. Button by button, he let out a deep sigh. He sat down on the chair and buried his face in my knees.
“Yumiko, tell me to stop and this will all come to an end.”
That kiss had started everything, I thought. But I was wrong. A kiss somewhere beside the lips was the real beginning. I didn’t resist. Because it was him, not anybody else. I didn’t realize that I was stepping into a sexual world. It came as a surprise to know how a man touched my body. It was unthinkable that he was committing a crime. Because there was no pain in any part of my body.
Once he held me up and sat me on a world map that was open on the desk. I felt the cool paper through my underwear.
“Am I sitting on Spain?”
He laughed at my words.
“Farther north. Around France.”
“So I’m coming of age in France? Just like Picasso.”
He took my shirt off and laid me down.
“With you, Mister, I can be a world traveler even on paper.”
It wasn’t that I knew how to play the coquette. I was simply using what was effective. I don’t think I was exceptional for my age. Any woman knows more or less how to sweetly peck away at a man. I didn’t think I was too young to be there. Female animals attract male ones within a few years of birth. Insects can do it within several days. I was somewhat closer to them than others. The more we deviate from human behavior, the more people like to call it crime. For which we’ve created something concrete called punishment. However, have crime and punishment ever been of equal weight? A child with no judgment, people would have called me. However, I was able to judge which man to let through. I let him kiss me. I let him embrace me. I let him take my shirt off and lay me down on a world map. His eyes looked as if he were conducting a science experiment. His lips drew circles like those in math sets. His sighs and deep breaths taught me how our bodies worked. The grammar of sweet words. Sentences required no subject. Even without it, it was clear who was praising whom. The hours allotted for our private lessons left no time to fill. He would murmur “Why,” “how come we . . . ?” I didn’t know the answer. All I knew was that people repeatedly ask themselves their own question after, but not before they commit a crime."

I enjoyed this story, perhaps more than I should.  I think we are being shown we aren't completely innocent.  I hope to read more of her work. 

Amy Yamada

Amy Yamada (1959~) was born in Tokyo. She dropped out university and made her debut as a manga artist. In 1985, she won the Bungei Prize for Bedtime Eyes and made a sensational debut as a novelist. This work was short-listed for the Akutagawa Prize. She received several literary prizes, including the Naoki Prize in 1987, Hirabayashi Taiko Literary Prize in 1989, and Women's Literary Prize in 1991.
985 Bungei Prize, for Bedtime Eyes
1987 Naoki Prize, for Soul Music Lovers Only
1989 Hirabayashi Taiko Literary Prize, for Fuso no Kyoshitsu (Classroom for the Abandoned Dead)
1991 Women's Literary Prize, for Trash
1996 Izumi Kyoka Literary Prize, for Animal Logic
2000 Yomiuri Literary Prize, for A2Z
2005 Tanizaki Jun'ichiro Prize, for Fumizekka (Wonderful Flavor)
2012 Noma Literary Prize, for Gentleman


marco said...

I appreciate Yamada, There is only two novels traduce in French. Thank for the link

FA said...

I found her story to be emotionally accurate and enjoyed her clever and playful way of exploring quite a serious coming of age theme. Thanks for the introduction to her.