Non 1001 Book Review: Territory of Light Yuko Tsushima
I’ve got admit that I’ve been in somewhat of a reading slump which is why we’ve had fewer posts over the last month. I’m not sure if the reading slump has to do with not finding much appealing or due to a crazy work schedule. I’ve spent the last week listening (I had previously read it) to the audiobook for Ready Player One (because Wheaton’s narration is awesome) and getting irritated by how much it differs from the movie (the book is better). Book Worm, however has been plowing ahead with her reading and is bringing you her latest review of a book that sounds right up my alley. Check out her review. Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima
Published in English: 2018
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Find it here: Territory of Light
This ARC was provided by Penguin Books UK (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis from Penguin Books: It is Spring. A young woman, left by her husband, starts a new life in a Tokyo apartment. Territory of Light follows her over the course of a year, as she struggles to bring up her two-year-old daughter alone. Her new home is filled with light, streaming through the windows, so bright you have to squint, but she finds herself plummeting deeper into darkness; becoming unstable, untethered. As the months come and go, and the seasons turn, she must confront what she has lost and what she will become.
At once tender and lacerating, luminous and unsettling, Territory of Light is a novel of abandonment, desire and transformation. It was originally published in twelve parts in the Japanese literary monthly Gunzo, between 1978 and 1979, each chapter marking the months in real time.
Bookworm’s Thoughts: This was a solid 3 star read for me. I enjoyed the way the narrative was structured with each chapter representing one month of the year. While the story is linear, chapters jump forward in time. They don’t pick up from where the last chapter ended so the reader then gets the odd flashback to explain how significant events have developed in the period of time we are missing between months/chapters.
The novel starts out on a hopeful note. The narrator knows her husband is leaving her, but she is also setting up on her own, choosing her own place, and finding her feet. She harbours the hope that her husband will return. As the novel progresses, it gets darker as she realises she is now a single parent and she has to deal with the impact that has on her life. So the middle of the book deals with the protagonist’s feelings about, and treatment of her daughter. It also shows her own deteriorating mental state before returning to a more positive outlook by the end of the novel.
Each chapter features some form of light as a focal point to the narrative and, like the story itself, the quality of the light changes. It starts out dazzlingly bright, becomes darker and filled with shadows, before returning to a kind of neutral daylight.
While I enjoyed the book, I did feel an emotional distance from the characters. For me, this was due to the first person narration. We never learn the woman’s name and her daughter is only referred to as “my daughter”.
Overall this is a beautifully-written, character-based novel with not much action. It does, however, manages to explore a lot about the protagonist’s mental state within 200 odd pages.
Who would like this? I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in Japanese literature and to anyone who appreciated Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys as this has a similar feel.
Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: Territory of Light
We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? Does it sound like a book you would enjoy reading?