Sunday, 31 January 2021

Book Review: People From My Neighbourhood by Kawakami Hiromi (Contemporary / Short Stories)

Title: People From My Neighbourhood
Author: Kawakami Hiromi
Publisher: Granta Books
Publication Date: 2020 (2019)
Pages:
121
Format:
Paperback
Genre: Contemporary/Short Stories
Source: Borrowed from Library

Take a story and shrink it. Make it tiny, so small it can fit in the palm of your hand. Carry the story with you everywhere, let it sit with you while you eat, let it watch you while you sleep. Keep it safe, you never know when you might need it. In Kawakami's super short 'palm of the hand' stories the world is never quite as it should be: a small child lives under a sheet near his neighbour's house for thirty years; an apartment block leaves its visitors with strange afflictions, from fast-growing beards to an ability to channel the voices of the dead; an old man has two shadows, one docile, the other rebellious; two girls named Yoko are locked in a bitter rivalry to the death. Small but great, you'll find great delight spending time with the people in this neighbourhood.

 

People From My Neighbourhood was an entertaining collection of magical realism micro-fiction, each story only spanning an average of 3-4 pages, making them quick and easy reads. As with any such anthology, I enjoyed some tales more than others, but all of them were interesting in their own way, and Kawakami did well in presenting contained and complete narratives within such a small word count. The characters repeated through the stories too, which helped to build an overview of the world in which they lived outside of the individual tales. This book will be a pleasure to read for Kawakami fans, though I would suggest starting with one of her novellas if you are new to her writing, before moving on to this collection.

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