‘Bucket of Eels’ by Mitsuyo Kakuta, translated by Wayne P. Lammers

This is a quietly easily moving narrative, where years pass and the mystery of a marriage is noted; indeed the narrator’s own relationships are at the heart of the story. I visited Japan a couple of years ago, and was surprised and delighted to find a similar portrayal of the neighbourhood I stayed in. The story embodies some of the sense of intrigue and bewilderment, as well as charm, I felt about the country. For all its gentle social etiquette or maybe because of it, certain things eluded me. This story illustrates the dichotomy between public and private modes of Japanese life which intrigued me, an emphasis on the sense of ritual and the domestic, which are behind all the vast technological advances for which Japan is well known.

First published in English in Granta, 2014 and available to all to read here

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