Author: Yoko Ogawa
By Rhys Tarling
Japanese author Yoko Ogawa’s collection of short stories that make up the entirety of Revenge are lyrical, delicate gems. It’s appropriate to mention the cover here – a slice of strawberry that looks ripe and delicious at a glance, but upon closer inspection reveals itself to look eerily like a destroyed heart.
It’s one of the few instances where the cover is completely in sync with the writing style – clear, elegant prose that conveys the darkest experiences of the human condition – grief, sadism, and obsession.
The eleven tales in this collection point to a larger, all-encompassing story, but it’s the thematic connections that make this an unsettling and riveting read – the novel follows bakery shop owners, folks who make handbags for human hearts, clueless teenage boys, and old men who give guided tours of torture museums (yeah, really) and they’re all bound by a tenderness that teeters on the edge of violent madness.
Ogawa lulls the reader into a state of complacency before unleashing a character action that’s either reprehensible or pitiable. Sometimes both of those things at once.
A riveting, beautiful and meticulously crafted piece of work.