The Lonesome Bodybuilder: Stories
Yukiko Motoya takes the mundane and brilliantly spikes it with the fantastical, the aberrant, and the all-out unexpected. These stories tilt the axis of reality by degrees, deftly inverting scenes of both solitude and cohabitation, pitting the personal against the domestic. Amid increasingly splashy motifs, The Lonesome Bodybuilder asks how we define ourselves through our relationships to others and whether our true identities can ever be known. Buoyant, charming, and layered with intent, this collection deserves a bevy of admirers.
Winner of the Akutagawa Prize and the Kenzaburo Oe Prize, these eleven surreal tales, set in the offices, zoos, bus stops, boutiques, and homes of contemporary Japan "are reminiscent, at least to this reader, of Joy Williams and Rivka Galchen and George Saunders" (Weike Wang, The New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice).
In the English-language debut of one of Japan’s most fearlessly inventive young writers a housewife takes up bodybuilding and sees radical changes to her physique, which her workaholic husband fails to notice. A boy waits at a bus stop, mocking commuters struggling to keep their umbrellas open in a typhoon, until an old man shows him that they hold the secret to flying. A saleswoman in a clothing boutique waits endlessly on a customer who won’t come out of the fitting room, and who may or may not be human. A newlywed notices that her spouse’s features are beginning to slide around his face to match her own.
In these eleven stories, the individuals who lift the curtains of their orderly homes and workplaces are confronted with the bizarre, the grotesque, the fantastic, the alien--and find a doorway to liberation.