The Broken Chain

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The Broken Chain
Author: Shinya Tanaka
Specifications: ISBN  978-4101334813
164 pages
10.6 x 15.0 cm / 4.2 x 6.0 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Shinchosha Publishing Co., Ltd.
Tokyo, 2008
Awards: Mishima Yukio Prize, 2008
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This collection consists of the title novella?a kind of parable with xenophobia as its theme?and two shorter pieces. Set in the fishing village of Akamagaseki at the western tip of Honshu, across the strait from the Korean peninsula, Kireta kusari (The Broken Chain) depicts the lives of several women who are the descendants of the Sakurais, a well-known family who became wealthy through the forming and selling concrete, a business they began in the area. Many politicians emerged from the Sakurai family. Now only three women live in the dilapidated mansion: the elderly Umeyo, her daughter Misako, who returned to the family house after the failure of her marriage, and Misako's daughter Misae. The women have enough funds to live on, but there is no escaping the fact of the ruin of their formerly distinguished family and the depopulation of the village itself.

One day, Misako goes out in the morning while Umeyo sees little Misae onto the kindergarten bus. Umeyo's mind is full of memories of the past. Her husband Shigenori, who had been adopted into the Sakurai family when he married her, began to keep company with a woman living in the barrack-like Christian church just behind the Sakurai residence after Umeyo gave birth to Misako, and one day never returned. Umeyo's mother had once spoken harshly to Shigenori, damning the church built by people from the Korean peninsula as "a fake and a sham." At present there is a man living at the church, who may be Shigenori's son. Umeyo drives him away as if he were a noxious insect infesting the Sakurai residence.

Sanagi (Pupa) is an unusual story told from the perspective of a rhinoceros beetle from its birth as an egg, to its larval and pupal stages and finally its development as the mighty "king" that emerges above ground.