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Fujisan

by Elliott Samuels

Staff Writer

The haunting tales included in this collection of short stories by Randy Taguchi all take place in the shadow of Mount Fuji.

Fujisan, Randy Taguchi, Translated by Raj Mahtani, AMAZONCROSSING

Taguchi, who has attracted something of a cult following in Japan since launching her online writing career in 1996, delivers four unforgettable accounts of redemption, discovery, loss and remembrance — themes that are bound together by mystical organic powers that connect us all.

The jaw-dropping stories largely focus on young adults in their 20s and early 30s who are forced to confront a wide range of issues: a convenience store employee who tries to escape from his past as a member of a sinister cult (“The Blue Summit”); a self-centered, womanizing bureaucrat who struggles to deal with an elderly woman who has hoarded a gargantuan mountain of refuse (which, surprisingly, includes some of his own) (“Jamila”); and a young nurse whose immense hatred of abortions is driving her out of her profession (“Child of Light”).

The principal protagonist in each tale has been given a personality that is hard to empathize with, let alone understand.

The pick of the bunch, “Sea of Trees,” tells the tale of how three teenagers who share a fascination with the metaphysical confront the startling reality of death in Aokigahara, Yamanashi Prefecture, on their final adventure together before being shipped off to different schools.

Captivating and engaging at the same time, “Fujisan” remains true to its namesake — dominating the scenery as it always has.