Genre: Adult Horror Short Story Collection
Year Release: 2010 (2022 on audio)
Source: Library Audiobook
Listened to the audiobook
Trigger warnings: death of a child, blood, gore, surgery, mold, vomiting
My introduction to Yoko Ogawa is via this collection of short stories, each one scarier than the one that came before it. We follow a mourning mother, lovers in a quarrel, doctors too committed to their jobs, doctors not committed enough, and scoundrels slithering in the dark.
This short story collection itself reads like a single novel with several narrators, several which appear in different stories. Masterful in the way it amps the terror of otherwise pedestrian life.
Every story within this collection reads like a snap. Ogawa does a great job establishing the status quo, describing mundane details about a bakery or a tailor’s shop or what should be a standard shift at the hospital. Things seem fairly normal in the first half of the stories until about the seventy-five mark where it becomes abundantly and immediately clear that things are wrong. With the second half, the discomfort is nonstop. If you’re not a fan of graphic descriptions of stabbings and poisonings, best avert your gaze.
The tension only ramps up, and it is unclear where the horrors in this community are coming from. What I had the most fun with are the way stories not to other works within the collection. The structure in terms of the order these eleven dark tales come in is absolutely brilliant. It is difficult to even talk about which stories I liked most as they’re all essential to understanding this macabre canvas of every day.
Actually, the detail about the home grown carrot shaped like a hand complete with fingers is going to stay with me a while. I definitely will be reading more from Ogawa in the future.