‘Enoki’ by Matsuda Aoko, translated by Polly Barton

I love Matsuda Aoko’s writing. I wanted to choose The Girl Who Is Getting Married (part of the Keshiki series of chapbooks from Strangers Press), but I thought I’d pick something people can read online instead.

First published in Japanese in 2018. Included in Where the Wild Ladies Are, Tilted Axis 2020. Available to read online here

‘The Woman Dies’ by Aoko Matsuda, translated from the Japanese by Polly Barton

In this beautiful translation, which captures the rhythm of the source text so artfully, the woeful fates of female characters in fiction and the way our real life experiences are shaped by them are explored with humour and pathos.

The woman dies so the man can be sad about it. The woman dies so the man can suffer. She dies to give him a destiny. Dies so he can fall to the dark side. Dies so he can lament her death. As he stands there, brimming with grief, brimming with life, the woman lies there in silence. The woman dies for him. We watch it happen. We read about it happening. We come to know it well.

First published in English translation in November 2018 on Granta online and available here. It was shortlisted for a Shirley Jackson Award in 2019. From the collection Wairudo furawa no mienai ichinen (The Year of No Wild Flowers), Kawadeshoboshinsha, 2016