The people in these short stories all have something in common – the earthquake of Kobe sends turmoils not only through their land, but also through their hearts. However, these are not the stories of survival or physical suffering, but the tales of lonely people looking for something. The quake shakes up their lives, leaving them to deal with the aftershock.
“UFO in Kushiro” is a story of a businessman whose wife divorces him right after the quake. To get away from his problems the man agrees to deliver a small box to Hokkaido. Could the contents of the mysterious package somehow fill the void inside him? The box is mentioned again in the “Honey Pie”, when the earthquake pushes a successful, but lonely writer to a decision that finally brings peace into his life. “All God’s Children Can Dance” lets us peek into the life of a young man who thinks that finding his father would answer all of his questions, only to realize something more important. The story resonates in “Super-Frog Saves Tokyo”, where an unremarkable loan collector faces a chance to save the city and uncover his true potential. This short story is somewhat surreal and hands down my absolute favourite of them all. “Thailand” deals with suppressed anger and importance of letting things go, and I find it to be a little fatalistic in a way that we all must accept the inevitable. And finally, “Landscape with Flatiron”, which I found exceptionally symbolic, discusses death perceived by both youth and age.
I was truly moved by this book. The characters were so real, I found myself pondering if I could find my own fears in them; and the thought of it made me feel uneasy. Even though it’s a short story collection, I would recommend reading all of them at once like you would read a novel. That way small details would take on a whole new meaning showcasing the book’s true depth and author’s skill. [Buy]