November 2018 Indie Next List
“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.”
— Justin Walls, Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing, Beaverton, OR
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.
About the Author
Yukiko Motoya was born in Ishikawa Prefecture in Japan in 1979. After moving to Tokyo to study drama, she started the Motoya Yukiko Theater Company, whose plays she wrote and directed. Her first story, “Eriko to zettai,” appeared in the literary magazine Gunzo in 2002. Motoya won the Noma Prize for New Writers for Warm Poison in 2011; the Kenzaburo Oe Prize for Picnic in the Storm in 2013; the Mishima Yukio Prize for How She Learned to Love Herself in 2014; and Japan’s most prestigious literary prize, the Akutagawa Prize, for An Exotic Marriage in 2016. Her books have been published or are forthcoming in French, Norwegian, Spanish, and Chinese, and her stories have been published in English in Granta, Words Without Borders, Tender, and Catapult.
Asa Yoneda was born in Osaka and studied language, literature, and translation at University of Oxford and SOAS University of London. She now lives in Bristol, U.K. In addition to Yukiko Motoya, she has translated works by Banana Yoshimoto, Aoko Matsuda, and Natsuko Kuroda.