‘The Man Who Sold Braces’ by Yoko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder

This story is from a linked collection called Revenge. It took me some time to get used to Ogawa’s sensibility, but then I got properly sucked in. This might be the gentlest story in the collection, and it’s basically about a man who runs a torture museum. It feels to me like Ogawa is one of those writers who has unfettered access to the depths of their imagination, which I envy. Some of her images feel plucked out of dreams (tomatoes tumbling onto a road, a tiger dying in a backyard), and the narratives seem to go where they want. I like this particular story because of the relationship between a young guy and his socially noxious uncle. I also like the central idea: that breaking stuff isn’t always bad; it depends what you break.

First published in English in University of Hawai’i Press, Volume 13, Number 1, 2001, and collected in Revenge, Harvill Secker, 2013 – now available as a Vintage Classic, 2020

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