Books / Reviews | ESSENTIAL READING FOR JAPANOPHILES

‘The Shooting Gallery’ reveals Yuko Tsushima’s existential feminism

by Kris Kosaka

Special To The Japan Times

Critically acclaimed, and winner of both the Kawabata and the Tanizaki awards, Yuko Tsushima lacerates with wisdom and uncomfortable truths. Translated by Geraldine Harcourt in 1988, “The Shooting Gallery” is a compilation of Tsushima’s early short stories, largely based on her experiences as a single mother.

Travel with the weary mother of two boys as she finds strength at a run-down, touristy shooting gallery in the title story; explore the jealousy within the supernatural realm in “The Chrysanthemum Beetle”; or venture into the magical realist world of a city park that harbors the abandoned and unwanted in “The Silent Traders.”

The Shooting Gallery, by Yuko Tsushima, Translated by Geraldine Harcourt.
138 pages
New Directions, Fiction.

Tsushima’s multilayered perspective creates a dreamily textured landscape that only sharpens the realistic perspectives of her characters. Here, one mother purposely falls into a daydream to escape the demands of motherhood: “one day my back will sprout a pair of lance-shaped wings, which will begin to beat, my body will visibly expand, and when the metamorphosis is complete I’ll be a dragon that ascends, spiraling to heaven.”

These are stories that cut deeply, and remain etched into your memory long after the last page.

Largely billed as a feminist writer, Tsushima evades any label, her fiction transcends gender to focus on the existential loneliness that is at the heart of humanity.

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