The Big Snow
Author: Yoshinaga Fujita
Specifications: ISBN  978-48062203371
269 pages
13.4 x 18.9 cm / 5.3 x 7.5 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Kodansha Ltd.
Tokyo, 2016
Awards: Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for Literature, 2017
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It is winter and Japan is wrapped in a cold front. More than one meter of snow has accumulated in Karuizawa, a resort town north of Tokyo. The roads are covered and traffic has come to standstill. A cluster of villas nestled in the hills is isolated by the snow and this has had a transforming effect on the local residents and vacationers. The author, himself a resident of Karuizawa, crafts six short stories of chance encounters and painful separations played out against this snowy backdrop.

The main character in the last of these stories, Amadare no purerūdo (The “Raindrop” Prelude), is Hidemitsu Nitta, a 48-year-old pianist. He arrives the day before a scheduled Chopin recital only to have it cancelled because of the snow. Hidemitsu’s visit to Karuizawa brings back poignant memories of his first encounter there with the woman who would later become his wife. The two are divorced now, and his ex-wife and daughter are living far away in Chicago. His ex was a painter, and all had been well with their marriage so long as both remained unknown artists, but their relationship began to sour as Hidemitsu’s music attracted a growing number of fans. He ended up having an affair with an opera singer and she, with a younger painter. At the time of the snowfall it has been three years since their divorce. Back now in the place where they first met, Hidemitsu regrets their separation. Knowing how much his ex-wife had loved Karuizawa in the snow, he emails her a photo of the scene. Later, he makes his way to the empty hall where he was supposed to have had his recital and begins playing the piano. Thoughts of her float through his mind and he is startled by the sound of clapping in what should have been an empty concert hall. It is his ex. His heart and mind in turmoil, Hidemitsu turns back to the piano and starts playing Chopin’s “Raindrop” Prelude. This is just one of a fine collection of short stories in which the protagonists, their emotions and thoughts, are painted with masterful, mature brushstrokes of literary expression.