“Wake Up,” Sings the Mermaid

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“Wake Up,” Sings the Mermaid
Author: Tomoyuki Hoshino
Specifications: ISBN  978-4104372010
148 pages
13.4 x 19.6 cm / 5.4 x 7.8 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Shinchosha Publishing Co., Ltd.
Tokyo, 2000
Awards: Mishima Yukio Prize, 2000
Buy now: amazon.co.jp


This is Hoshino's first full-length work of fiction. It is set in a grand log cabin with a red roof in the hinterland of the Izu Peninsula, more than 20 minutes' walk from the local railway station. The area where the house stands was due to be developed with holiday homes, but the project was abandoned and the plume grass grows wild on the red-earth plateau. Toko lives only for the memories of her love for Mitsuo, her boyfriend who ran off 13 years earlier at the age of 22. Marukoshi, the owner of the log cabin, who works in a library, invites Toko and Mitsuo Jr., the son she had with her lover, to live with him. Around mid-September, while the summer heat still lingers, a pair of visitors?friends of friends?call on Marukoshi and Toko. They are Hiyohito, a third-generation Peruvian-Japanese, and his girlfriend Ana. Back in Kawasaki, Hiyohito was involved in a fight between Peruvian youths and a local biker gang. He beat up a Japanese biker and is now on the run. The novel describes the three days that these five people spend together, from the Friday when Hiyohito and Ana turn up until the Monday morning when the couple leaves and Mitsuo Jr. runs away from home. The central theme is the way that both Toko and Hiyohito find themselves pulled back into the past and live like ghosts, indifferent to the present. Toko cannot forget how her pregnancy destroyed her relationship with Mitsuo, which in turn drove her to commit crazy acts like setting buildings on fire; Hiyohito cannot let go of his memories of the childhood he spent in Lima in Peru. This is a powerful book. The scene in which the five characters dance the salsa is particularly memorable.