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The first 115 pages of Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s debut novel, “Picking Bones From Ash,” incredibly heightened my anticipation of a great, literary read. Then the crash came, splintering my expectations from the weight of disgruntlement.

Still, although the novel ultimately falls short, Mockett must be commended for her auspicious and ambitious first foray into fiction. Mockett’s prose deftly reconstructs life in rural Japan in the 1950s, a harsh world where talent is a woman’s only true salvation.

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