The town of Kamakura in early summer provides the backdrop for this powerfully told novel focusing on ten-year-old Shin'ichi. Two years earlier, after his father's business failed, Shin'ichi moved into his paternal grandfather's solitary home here in this historic town nestled between hills and sea. The father died of cancer a year later, and so now the boy lives with his grandfather, Shozo, and mother, Sumie. Bullied at school, Shin'ichi has no friends save for Haruya, a new student from western Japan who is enduring abuse and sometimes even starvation by his own parents. A third classmate is Narumi, whose mother, a university researcher, had been aboard Shozo's fishing boat several years ago when it collided with a ferry in deep fog, costing Shozo his leg and the woman her life. Shin'ichi and Narumi soon make the shocking discovery that his mother and her elite businessman father are secretly seeing each other. The two children and Haruya become engrossed in a ritual of their own invention which involves making a wish while burning a hermit crab out of its shell with a cigarette lighter. Although at first they wish for one another's pain to go away, a rift develops as Haruya and Narumi's closeness sparks jealousy in Shin'ichi, who also has feelings for the girl. Here is a moving portrait of a young boy's passion toward his mother and his friends, and of his struggle to stand up to the difficulties buffeting him.
13.4 x 19.0 cm / 5.4 x 7.6 in (WxH)
Naoki Prize, 2010