Read an eARC from NetGalley
Content warning: Murder, war crimes, sexual assault (not depicted), comfort women, gore, PTSD, terminal illness
A historical fiction journey following one family spanning several generations and centuries. Starting with colonial Japan and a murder, going all the way to post-the-current-year (2035 to be precise) to a V.R. utopia masking future-type horrors unfolding. It’s about cycles of imperialism, violence, and generational trauma, some of which isn’t necessarily dealt with, but very much explored.
Told in a wide range of styles, from interviews to more straightforward narratives to diary entries, I found myself having a hard time believing that this was fiction and not something like a Svetlana Alexievich collection of accounts.
*In an effort to get my reading list under control, I will be finishing up a few ARCs that I should have finished, in some cases, years ago.
Yes, I am embarrassed.
This is a book to enjoy in bits and pieces. I found myself invested in the story of this family. But mostly, I wanted to really sit with the details after each passage of time. In addition, there is wide swath of heavy topics discussed, from military sex slavery, the firebombing of Tokyo, family estrangement, and more. Inheritors does not flinch from sordid details, but approaches them with a frankness that’s often eschewed in fiction. There’s no melodrama about anything, which is why I make the comparison to Svetlana Alexievich and her collections of oral histories of Chernobyl and women fighting during World War II. What also lends to this feeling is that there is no overall plot. It’s a book that’s very history-driven rather than by character or plot.
The section that will stick with me most, I think, is the contemporary segment where a young woman visits Japan having been born in and lived in America. The sense of culture shock is tangible. Both when it comes to her curiosity and the understanding of whose stories belong to whom. It’s heart-wrenching and honest, but not cruel. It will stay with me for a while, as I also experience an analogous distance from my family and roots in northwest Poland.