Monday, 23 September 2013

the briefcase/ strange weather in tokyo [hiromi kawakami]

So, I’m going to pitch you the latest. It’s about a woman who is in her late thirties. She likes a drink. She’s not an alcoholic, but she likes a drink. She’s lonely. We don’t know much about why. She hangs out in bars. Drinks beer on her own. One day she runs into her old teacher. He’s in his sixties. They have a drink together. His wife ran off and left him. He’s lonely too. They have this friendship. And she starts seeing another guy. But then she realises she’s falling for the professor. They have this “in-sync” relationship. I know you’re thinking it’s kind of creepy. He’s almost old enough to be her granddad. I know you’re thinking all that. But it’s not like that. It’s quirky. It’s irreverent. It’s engaging. They’re engaging characters. You’re just being politically correct. And anyway. Wait for it. They’re Japanese. That makes a difference. You’re already subtly altering your cultural framework, I can see that. You’re thinking, if I decide that this narrative, this story, this mise-en-scene, is a bit creepy, then am I being, even ever so mildly, am I being racist? Is my political correctness not so politically correct? And I’m going to give you something else. This book, Strange Weather in Tokyo – yeah, they changed the title, it’s written by a woman. Not just any woman. One of the major writers in contemporary Japanese culture. So now you’re doing a swift 180. I can see that. I can understand. The original title? The Briefcase. Yeah, that is creepy. I mean, that’s a creepy title. It’s all he leaves her. There’s nothing in it. He’s not a creep. No. No way. They like beer and saki and food and it’s healthy. You need to switch that mindset. That Hoboken, Harrods Food Hall, Hanif Kureshi mindset. Stranger things have happened. Yeah the cover photo is a bit of a soft-sell. Pretty girl floating in space. No. Really. It’s a very subtle piece of writing. About interiority. I don’t know. I made it up. I don’t know if it’s a real word. It probably is in Japanese. No I don’t speak the language. Change your mindset. Get with the program. 

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