We all know that moment, don’t we? When adolescent dreams of the life we wanted suddenly feel meaningless? When everyone around us seems to have their relationships and careers figured out while we’re still scrambling to understand ourselves?

Nanae Aoyama captures this very human experience with her novella, “A Perfect Day to Be Alone,” which won the Akutagawa Prize in 2007 when the author was only 24 years old. Although she’s widely translated across Europe and Asia, it is Aoyama’s first work to be rendered into English. The slim work is a fitting introduction to the writer, whose tight, understated prose renders the juncture between adolescence and adulthood with humorous authenticity and tender pain.

A Perfect Day to Be Alone, by Nanae Aoyama. Translated by Jesse Kirkwood. 160 pages, QUERCUS PUBLISHING, Fiction.