I’ve been a fan of Kawakami’s since reading Strange Weather in Tokyo, which is just a beautiful and careful mediation on intimacy. This story, which is fairly lengthy, as short stories go, is a forkloric tale about people becoming snakes and snakes becoming people. It’s eerie, and haunting, and retains all the excoriating insight of Kawakami’s more realist fiction:
“Have you ever been betrayed, Hiwako, dear?” she asked, looking up at me seductively.
To be betrayed, you probably first have to be deeply involved. Had I been deeply involved with anything in my life?
First published in Japanese in 1996. First published in English in Record of a Night Too Brief, Pushkin Press, 2017