‘Careless’ by Hiroko Oyamada, translated by Lucy North

A man and his wife have moved into a cheap apartment building which is infested with insects. This story captures the creepiness of reproduction, real estate, and (im)moral proximity in the 21st century. I think this piece of dialogue sums up the malaise of self-preserving willed ignorance and disconnection that haunts modern lifestyles:

…The best way is to just take no notice. We’ve been living here for well over four years, and they haven’t done us any harm. If anything, once you start paying them attention, it only makes it worse. There’s no controlling them. You have to will yourself not to see them. They’ll stop bothering you once you do that. It’ll be like they’re not there.

Translator Lucy North is one of my personal heroes, and this is incredibly well translated: I can’t find a single clunky sentence, odd word choice, unclear meaning, or anything else that jars or makes it obvious that this is a translation, and the text as a whole sings. 

From Oyamada’s short story collection Niwa (Garden), published in March 2018. First published in English translation by Granta in September 2019 and available online here

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