“Palm-of-the-Hand Stories” is a collection of 70 very brief stories by Nobel Prize-winner Yasunari Kawabata that were written between the early 1920s and 1970s. It contains poetic depictions of emotions, a focus on feelings rather than understanding. These stories present the chaos of the human heart, the kind often hidden in daily life but unleashed in private moments.

Many of these stories depict epiphanies, transformations and revelations. In “The Sparrow’s Matchmaking,” a man decides on his future wife through mystical communion with a sparrow. Such fantastical stories are placed beside quotidian tales, where magic is generated by the power of human imagination. In “The Wife’s Search,” a woman deals with what Kawabata describes as “the flower of delusion that blossoms in the fertile soil of human boredom.” When musing on housewives waiting for their husbands at the station, he compares the ticket turnstile to “the gate of an enormous prison society. The men, convicts serving a life sentence.”

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