In a small town on the coast, a 38-year-old man who calls himself "DJ Ark" begins a radio broadcast. But it is a special kind of broadcast that transmits his voice via the "imagination waves" of his listeners and is "aired" only within their imaginations. The man's real name is Fuyusuke Akutagawa, and he is for some reason lodged in a tree on a hill overlooking the town. It is from there that he maintains a constant stream of chatter on the air, at times reading messages that arrive over the imagination waves from listeners, at times playing music he is fond of. The backstory that brought him to his present circumstances is revealed bit by bit as he talks.
Akutagawa was born the son of a local rice merchant, and moved to Tokyo for college. After playing in a band for a time, he went to work for a talent agency where he represented up-and-coming artists, but grew tired of this job and moved back to his hometown with his wife Misato. The next day, the town was hit by a massive earthquake, and late that night he began his imagination-radio broadcasts as DJ Ark. Midway through the book, DJ Ark bluntly declares that he doesn't give a damn about his broadcasts. His father and brother have already visited him at the foot of his tree?apparently having been laid to rest in a mass funeral. Akutagawa's only son, an eighth grader, is fortunately away in the United States and safe, but his one remaining concern is his wife, who is still missing. Will DJ Ark get to hear her voice again?
The novel was published on the second anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011. Bearing the message that we must listen to the silenced voices of the dead, it is one of the finest achievements in post-quake literature to date.