Living in a Drain

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Living in a Drain
Author: Kenta Nishimura
Specifications: ISBN  978-4101312811
196 pages
10.4 x 14.4 cm / 4.2 x 5.8 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Shinchosha Publishing Co., Ltd.
Tokyo, 2006
Awards: Noma Prize for New Writers, 2007
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The title novella, one of two in this collection, focuses on a 35-year-old narrator reminiscent of the author himself. The man has been seeing his first steady girlfriend (someone six years younger) in a decade, and now that the relationship has lasted for a year, he starts looking with her for an apartment in preparation for moving in with a woman for the first time in his life. (Before this, the man, who has had little success with women but plenty of appetite for sex, had been relying on prostitutes for satisfaction.) The two eagerly embark on their new life, helped along by the three million yen they borrow from the woman's parents to publish the complete works of a novelist the man admires. But the man is prone to violence and riddled with insecurity about his lack of education beyond middle school, and soon his darker self begins to show. First he grows jealous of the ex-boyfriend the woman had lived with for five years. Then he lashes out at her for not boiling noodles properly. Unable to pay the rent with his earnings as a day laborer, he makes her get a job as a supermarket cashier. He beats her for accidentally opening the bathroom door at the wrong time, and beats her some more for not joining a fight he picks with a stranger. The narrator's brutally honest dissection of his own pathetic, good-for-nothing nature is not for the squeamish.

The second tale, Kegarenaki sake no hedo (The Unsullied Puke of Liquor), originally appeared in a small literary journal in 2004 and was the first of Nishimura's works to be published. It recounts an episode three years before Living in a Drain in which the narrator falls for a sex worker who takes advantage of his feelings and fools him out of close to a million yen.