Alienated and downtrodden young women are the heroes of a new collection of surreal short stories by Natsuko Imamura.

“Asa: The Girl Who Turned into a Pair of Chopsticks,” translated into English by Lucy North, comprises three stories. The narrators each have a clearly defined conceit that marks a strained relationship with society. Despite all her best efforts, Asa, of the titular story, can’t get anyone, human or animal, to accept food when she offers it. Nami, in “Nami, Who Wanted to Get Hit (and Eventually Succeeded),” is desperate to receive a physical blow — in dodgeball, on the playground — but the punches never land. Happy-chan, in “A Night to Remember,” has given up on life as a bipedal human, opting instead to exist belly-down, dragging herself around by her elbows.

The stories, published between 2017 and 2020, share traits with Imamura’s novel “The Woman in the Purple Skirt,” which won Japan’s prestigious Akutagawa Prize in 2019, after two other stories by the author were nominated but didn’t receive the award.