Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima (Translated by Geraldine Harcourt) - review by Lesley Downer

Lesley Downer

A Single Woman

Territory of Light


Penguin Classics 122pp £9.99 order from our bookshop

As Territory of Light opens, the unnamed narrator is newly separated from her husband, Fujino, and looking for an apartment. But she can’t break the habit of deferring to Fujino, who drags her around to more and more expensive places. She feels utterly defeated: ‘If I could live with my husband I didn’t care where, and without him everywhere was equally daunting.’

Then, at the library where she works, she overhears a poem: ‘Quick now, give up this idle pondering! And let’s be off.’ She realises with a shock that it’s time to take control of her life. On her own she finds the perfect apartment, tiny but suffused with light. She moves in, bringing her two-year-old daughter with her, and life as a single mother begins.

Yuko Tsushima is considered one of Japan’s most important modern female writers. But she is also known as the daughter of the brilliant and dissolute nihilist author Osamu Dazai, a ‘Japanese Albert Camus’ whose novels captured the mood of postwar Japan and who committed ‘love suicide’ in spectacular

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