Almighty Shikaku

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Almighty Shikaku
Author: Naoko Tanigawa
Specifications: ISBN  978-4309021416
163 pages
12.8 x 19.2 cm / 5.1 x 7.7 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Kawade Shobo Shinsha, Publishers
Tokyo, 2012
Awards: Bungei Prize, 2012
Translations: Spanish
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Country Languages Publisher Title ISBN Translator Affiliate Link
Spain Spanish Chidori Books
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This novella takes a lighthearted yet remarkably thought-provoking look at money and religion in contemporary Japan. The central character is Minami Seo, a 49-year-old writer and childless divorcée. Depressed ever since her contentious divorce a decade earlier, she has attempted suicide as well as suffered from anorexia nervosa and insomnia; her recent professional output has been limited to product descriptions and fake user reviews for online retailers.

Minami's mother suspects her husband, a retired high-school teacher, of having an affair, and offers her daughter some money to follow him and see what she can find out. Minami tails her father and discovers that he is being worshipped as a messenger of the god Shikaku by four elderly women with whom he holds regular meetings. Shikaku is said to be the god of money, and is affiliated with a new religion that sells 10,000-yen talismans through a website. Believe in Shikaku and he will energize your money, say the teachings. Bank ATMs are in effect the religion's shrines, and according to the teachings, if you worship Shikaku at an ATM designated in a divine message, deposit a sum of money, then worship Shikaku again and withdraw the same sum, your money will have been purified and your assets will grow. As she learns more about the religion, Minami begins to think that if she had a little more money, it might improve her life and make her feel happier. When she hits the jackpot at a pachinko parlor, she suddenly becomes more interested than ever in Shikaku . . .

Delightfully encapsulating post-disaster Japan with its amusing look at the worship of money in contemporary society, the story is told from four different points of view?those of Minami's parents, her younger sister, and her niece. One of the highlights of the story is a question that dogs both Minami and her father?just how much money should they contribute to the disaster relief efforts?