Author: Kanai Mieko
Publisher: Fitzcarraldo Editions
Publication Date: 21 June 2023
Format: eBook - PDF
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley
Housewife Natsumi leads a small, unremarkable life in a modern Tokyo apartment with her husband and two sons: she does the laundry, goes on trips to the supermarket, exchanges gossip with neighbours. Tracing the conversations and interactions she has with her family and friends as they blend seamlessly into her internal monologue, Mild Vertigo explores the dizzying inability to locate oneself in the endless stream of minutiae that make up a life confined to the home, where both everything and nothing happens.
With shades of Clarice Lispector, Mavis Gallant and Lucy Ellman, this late-period novel by the esteemed novelist, essayist, and film and literary critic Mieko Kanai - whose often dark and cynical work occupies something of a cult place within the Japanese canon - is a disconcerting and astute portrait of life in late-stage capitalist society.
Mild Vertigo was an interesting piece of writing. It was my first time reading Kanai Mieko's work, so I approached the book free of any expectations as to what it would be like. It turned out to be an elaborate stream-of-consciousness-style tale that took several distinct chapters and merged them into what was a fascinating look at the life of a woman living in a fairly isolated domestic world. This was not a story with a standard plot. Rather, it was a snapshot of this woman's life and preoccupations, most of which were outwardly trivial things but which, to her, were the basis of her world and how she occupied her days. The style of this story is not going to suit all readers, but if you are not hung up on having a clear beginning-middle-end progression to your fiction it offers a wonderful character study of the life of a modern-day housewife. It gets four stars from me.
I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.