‘Spider Lilies’ by Hiroko Oyamada, translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter

Oyamada’s story is another two-part work, starting with a young woman’s formal visit to her fiancé’s home before moving on to a hospital visit years later when her husband is recovering from a car crash. Throughout the piece it’s what isn’t said that intrigues the reader, with secrets kept from family members, and the narrator, Yuki, acting as our access into this world. The two parts are connected by the titular flowers, called shibitobana in Japanese (‘dead man’s flower’), and the rumours about the plant’s qualities go nicely with the stories Yuki hears. It’s up to her, and us, to decide how much of it all is true.

‘Spider Lilies’ first published in English in 2014 in Granta 127: Japan, April 2014 and available for subscribers to read online here

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