THE HUNTING GUN by Yasushi Inoue
Kirkus Star

THE HUNTING GUN

by ; translated by
Age Range: 1907 - 1991
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Inoue’s first book, published in Japan in 1949, recounts a tragic love triangle from the different perspectives of those affected.

The book begins with a framing device that feels old-fashioned yet contemporary in its self-consciousness. The “author” explains that he recently received a mysterious letter from a man named Misugi Josuke, who claims to be the subject of a poem published by the “author.” Josuke thinks the poem captured the “desolate dried-up riverbed” within him. He encloses three letters that came to him, asking that the “author” read and then destroy them. The first, addressed to Uncle Josuke, comes from a woman named Shoko, whose mother, Saiko, has recently died. Saiko divorced Shoko’s father for adultery when Shoko was 5. Josuke and his wife, Midori, have been close family friends for as long as Shoko can remember, and Shoko has always felt a special closeness to gentle Midori. The day before Saiko’s death, Shoko was supposed to burn her mother’s diary, but she read it and was shocked to learn that Saiko and Josuke have been having an affair for 13 years and that Saiko has been wracked with guilt. While thanking Josuke for his support, Shoko tells him she never wants to see him or Midori again. She also sends along a letter Saiko left for him. But the second letter is from Midori, who writes that she wants to end their marriage, which has been a sham all along. While appearing to involve herself with other men, she's always pined for Josuke, who's remained coolly aloof. She knows he thought he was protecting her from knowledge of his affair, but she discloses her own secret: She has always known. Saiko’s letter is a farewell. About to die, she tells Josuke her own guilty, passionate secret, one that Josuke has never suspected. Nor will the reader, although it makes complete sense.

This slight but elegant and moving novella is a lovely introduction to a prolific Japanese writer (1907-1991) largely unknown in the West.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-78227-001-0
Page count: 112pp
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2014




BEST FICTION IN TRANSLATION OF 2014:

FictionTHE AUTHOR AND ME by Éric Chevillard
by Éric Chevillard
FictionTHOSE WHO LEAVE AND THOSE WHO STAY by Elena Ferrante
by Elena Ferrante
FictionTHE HUNTING GUN by Yasushi Inoue
by Yasushi Inoue

MORE BY MICHAEL EMMERICH

FictionDANDELIONS by Yasunari Kawabata
by Yasunari Kawabata
FictionLIFE OF A COUNTERFEITER by Yasushi Inoue
by Yasushi Inoue
FictionTHE LAKE by Banana Yoshimoto
by Banana Yoshimoto

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

FictionNORWEGIAN WOOD by Haruki Murakami
by Haruki Murakami
FictionTHE CHANGELING by Kenzaburo Oe
by Kenzaburo Oe
FictionRED ROOFS & OTHER STORIES by Junichiro Tanizaki
by Junichiro Tanizaki