Ever since H.G. Wells put a British inventor in a time machine in 1895, the possibilities of visiting the past — or, in Wells’ case, the future — have intrigued many Western novelists. From sci-fi writers like Kurt Vonnegut and Octavia Butler to the adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge and Harry Potter, getting unstuck in time often helps to illuminate the present.

Aside from manga, however, Japanese literature isn’t known internationally for a signature work on time travel. Enter Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s poignant debut “Before the Coffee Gets Cold” from 2015, which now is published for the first time in English.

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