All the Lovers in the Night

From acclaimed Japanese writer Mieko Kawakami comes the novel All the Lovers in the Night, on the heels of her 2020 short story collection, Breasts and Eggs, and 2021 novel, Heaven. Fuyuko Irie is a freelance proofreader in her mid-30s and living alone in Tokyo. Though she has a stable income and considerable professional autonomy in a cutthroat field, she is otherwise unmoored from societal institutions and other people. Her only friend is Hijiri, her boss, with whom she has little in common but from whom she receives confidences, while confiding little in return. Fuyuko, seeing her reflection one day in the mirror on the street, decides to change. First, she starts drinking beer and sake at all hours. Then she visits an adult education center, thinking she will take a class, only to meet Mitsutsuka, a high school physics teacher.

Written in first person and translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd, All the Lovers in the Night is remarkably free of exposition and character background in its opening pages. Fuyuko even states that she cannot remember much of her life. This dissipates somewhat as events unfold and past traumas are excavated. However, Fuyuko does not arrive at comfort or connection without great risk or substantial pain.

All the Lovers in the Night is a deeply serious meditation on modern womanhood; its colloquial, confessional and conversational style and wondrous discourses on the nature of light lend an atmospheric tone devoid of melodrama. By portraying the specific with such intricacy, Kawakami invites all readers in. --Walker Minot, freelance writer and editor

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