Waiting off the Coast

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Waiting off the Coast
Author: Akiko Itoyama
Specifications: ISBN  978-4163248509
108 pages
14.0 x 19.4 cm / 5.6 x 7.8 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Bungeishunju Ltd.
Tokyo, 2006
Awards: Akutagawa Prize, 2005
Buy now: amazon.co.jp


The Akutagawa Prize-winning title work in this collection depicts the ties between the female narrator and Futotchan, a man who works with her at the Fukuoka branch of a home-fixtures manufacturer, which they both joined in the same year. The city is distant from company headquarters and the business environment is tough for the two, but after setting out on their careers they gradually learn the ropes at the office and in the locale. They come to share drinks after work, forming a bond like that of fellow soldiers in war?a friendship unaffected even by Futotchan's marriage to an older woman working in the same office. Eventually the two friends are transferred away from Fukuoka. After several hops between new offices, the narrator receives an invitation from Futotchan, now posted to a new location without his family, and they meet again at a pub in Tokyo.

At this meeting Futotchan makes a proposal: if one of them should die, the other will sneak into his or her home and destroy the computer hard drive. The narrator agrees to this, and the two exchange copies of the keys to their homes. Some years later, Futotchan is killed in a shocking accident when a suicide jumper plummets from a nearby apartment building, crashing onto him. The narrator fulfills her end of the bargain, breaking into his Tokyo apartment and carrying out the task. It turns out that Futotchan's hard drive stores the poetry he had written to his wife. The narrator's computer, meanwhile, holds the sneak photographs she has stealthily taken of the room of a man living near her.

In addition to the title piece, this book includes Kinro kansha no hi (Labor Thanksgiving Day), a short story describing an unemployed 36-year-old woman's efforts to find a husband.