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Perhaps because of the generational nature of the Emperor-era system, Japanese literature has long had a fascination with endings and beginnings, and Nakajima’s Naoki Prize-winning novel, “The Little House” is no exception.

Set between 1930 and 1945, with periodic jumps to the present, the tale unfolds through the memoir of Taki, maid to the Hirai family in suburban Tokyo. As a teenage girl, she is sent into service with Tokiko, a young bride not much older than Taki. They develop a strong bond, a friendship that becomes the most important relationship of Taki’s life.

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