Ground Zero, Nagasaki

Stories

Seirai Yūichi. Translated by Paul Warham

Columbia University Press

Ground Zero, Nagasaki

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Pub Date: December 2014

ISBN: 9780231171168

192 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $35.00£27.95

Pub Date: December 2014

ISBN: 9780231538565

192 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $34.99£27.95

Ground Zero, Nagasaki

Stories

Seirai Yūichi. Translated by Paul Warham

Columbia University Press

Set in contemporary Nagasaki, the six short stories in this collection draw a chilling portrait of the ongoing trauma of the detonation of the atomic bomb. Whether they experienced the destruction of the city directly or heard about it from survivors, the characters in these tales filter their pain and alienation through their Catholic faith, illuminating a side of Japanese culture little known in the West. Many of them are descended from the "hidden Christians" who continued to practice their religion in secret during the centuries when it was outlawed in Japan. Urakami Cathedral, the center of Japanese Christian life, stood at ground zero when the bomb fell.

In "Birds," a man in his sixties reflects on his life as a husband and father. Just a baby when he was found crying in the rubble near ground zero, he does not know who his parents were. His birthday is set as the day the bomb was dropped. In other stories, a woman is haunted by her brief affair with a married man, and the parents of a schizophrenic man struggle to come to terms with the murder their son committed. These characters battle with guilt, shame, loss, love, and the limits of human understanding. Ground Zero, Nagasaki vividly depicts a city and people still scarred by the memory of August 9, 1945.
Ground Zero, Nagasaki represents some of the best literary fiction that is being produced in Japan today. It should gain an appreciative audience among those who enjoy moving, informative writing. Van Gessel, Brigham Young University, coeditor of The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature
A moving document of the atomic experience and one that suggests the ways it still affects Japan. Stephen Snyder, Kawashima Professor of Japanese Studies, Middlebury College
Clinging to their proud faith through delusion and madness, the modern heirs of Japan's seventeenth-century Christian martyrs couple, insect-like, in the presence of Our Lady as Nagasaki observes the anniversary of the atomic bombing. Paul Warham's beautiful translations bring us into Seirai Yuichi's unique world. Jay Rubin, author of Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words
Paul Warham's clear translation means Yuichi's writing retains a beautiful honesty and engaging symbolism.... These stories offer a nuanced insight into the psyche of Nagasaki's survivors. Finbar O'Mallon, The Japan Times
[Seirai Yuichi's] sprawling tales are not only enjoyable but also grounded in complex thoughts and analysis that make the read a worthwhile one. Salvatore Ruggiero, Bookslut
Is Ground Zero, Nagasaki worth the $35 asking price for the hardcover? Yes, I think so.Will the stories in this book be of interest to anyone outside of the academic field of Japanese literary studies? Absolutely. It's not easy to read this book, but that's a major part of what allows it to dig so deeply into the reader. Japaneselit.com
Seirai makes Nagasaki the vibrant city we know it is from the historical past, and peoples it with a cast of contemporary characters whose voices are loud and clear. Davinder Bhowmik, Japanese Studies
Nails
Stone
Insects
Honey
Shells
Birds

About the Author

Seirai Yuichi is a novelist from Nagasaki. He is the author of Jeronimo no jujika (Geronimo's Cross), which won the Bungakukai Prize for New Writers. He also won the Akutagawa Prize for Seisui (Holy Water) and the Ito Sei Literary Prize and the Tanizaki Jun'ichiro Prize for Bakushin (Ground Zero, Nagasaki).

Paul Warham is a translator who lives in Tokyo. His translations include Kenzo Kitakata's The Cage, Satoshi Azuchi's Supermarket, and Kazushi Hosaka's Plainsong.