Books / Reviews | RECENTLY PUBLISHED BOOKS ABOUT JAPAN

'Half of Each Other': Grief, marriage and tragedy

by Kris Kosaka

Contributing Writer

Balestier Press”Half of Each Other,” the newest novel from the prolific author and director, Roger Pulvers, considers how love, desire and grief intertwine in the aftermath of tragedy.

Half of Each Other, by Roger Pulvers.
156 pages
BALESTIER PRESS, Fiction.

As the story opens, Nick, an Irish sculptor and stay-at-home-dad, and his wife, Setsuko, in customer relations at Tokyo’s exclusive Isetan Shinjuku department store, are going through the motions of their disintegrating marriage.

Only tenuously connected by their shared loved for their 5-year-old daughter, Emi, Pulvers’ characters are realistically depicted in the staid embers of a once passionate relationship. Keeping a distance from any one character, Pulvers weaves the narrative from multiple perspectives. We see the pithy musings of Emi, wise in her appraisal of her parents’ dwindling affections for each other, childishly determined not to wear the red down jacket her father carries for her against the spring chill, or hear Nick’s wry acceptance of his wife’s busy schedule and his own frustrated struggles to balance his art with parenthood.

When a traffic accident brings unbearable tragedy upon the family, these split perspectives continue, with Setsuko’s view added to round out the tense drama. Originally published in Japanese as “Half,” the story takes a turn into magical realism, although it remains firmly grounded in the realities of life and love when the unthinkable occurs.

“Half of Each Other” is a philosophical meditation on the possibilities and opportunities within the impossible depths of grief.