After a succession of young adult novels, Shikoku-based writer Suzanne Kamata returns to adult fiction with “The Baseball Widow,” out from Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing on Oct. 5.
Kamata weaves multiple narratives throughout a cross-cultural study of Japan and the United States. Bicultural marriage, returnee struggles, teenage exploitation, culture shock, mental health and, of course, baseball, all converge in a gripping emotional conflict. Yet the book is also engaging as a look at everyday life in modern-day Japan, particularly in the nation’s demanding youth sports culture.
The pinnacle of youth baseball success is famously measured by going to Koshien, the annual national spring invitationals and summer tournaments for high school baseball players. In the novel, Hideki Yamada, a teacher and baseball coach in rural Shikoku, reaches toward the Koshien dream when a talented returnee, Daisuke Uchida, joins his small public school team.