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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Territory of Light

Territory of Light

A Novel

Yuko Tsushima; Translated from the Japanese by Geraldine Harcourt

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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From one of the most significant contemporary Japanese writers, a haunting, dazzling novel of loss and rebirth

“Yuko Tsushima is one of the most important Japanese writers of her generation.” —Foumiko Kometani, The New York Times

I was puzzled by how I had changed. But I could no longer go back . . .

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 she has 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, Yuko Tsushima’s 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. It won the inaugural Noma Literary Prize.

THE WATER'S EDGE

During the night, there had been a sound of water on the other side of the wall. In my sleep I was looking out from the fourth-floor bedroom at nearby buildings bathed in rain, gleaming with neon and streetlamp colours. It...

Praise for Territory of Light

Winner of the Lindsley and Masao Miyoshi Translation Prize

"[A] portrait of parent and child alone in a harsh but often ravishingly beautiful environment . . . Slender, restrained." —Lidija Haas, Harper’s

"Lovely, melancholy . . . Tsushima's prose is achingly elegant, well worth lingering over . . . Each chapter is as elegant and self-contained as a pearl or a perfectly articulated drop of water." —Kirkus (starred review)

"A young woman confronts life as a single mother in this graceful, eye-opening novel from Tsushima (1937–2016), one of the most influential feminists in Japanese literature . . . Equal parts brutal and tender, Tsushima’s portrait of the strains and joys of motherhood is captivating." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Fragmented, and rich in dreams and memories, the book is suffused with images of light and water…Geraldine Harcourt’s translation subtly conveys the narrator’s precarious grip on reality . . . Spiky, atmospheric and intimate, filled with moments of strangeness that linger in the mind like an after-image on the retina, Territory of Light is not a comforting read, but it will touch women across frontiers.” —Lee Langley, The Spectator (London)

“[Territory of Light’s] twelve linked tales of the city are fine-grained to the point of mundanity—finding an apartment, discovering a leak, visiting a park—but in Tsushima’s hands they achieve a deceptive, luminous clarity…In this short, powerful novel lurk the joy and guilt of … More…

Winner of the Lindsley and Masao Miyoshi Translation Prize

"[A] portrait of parent and child alone in a harsh but often ravishingly beautiful environment . . . Slender, restrained." —Lidija Haas, Harper’s

"Lovely, melancholy . . . Tsushima's prose is achingly elegant, well worth lingering over . . . Each chapter is as elegant and self-contained as a pearl or a perfectly articulated drop of water." —Kirkus (starred review)

"A young woman confronts life as a single mother in this graceful, eye-opening novel from Tsushima (1937–2016), one of the most influential feminists in Japanese literature . . . Equal parts brutal and tender, Tsushima’s portrait of the strains and joys of motherhood is captivating." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Fragmented, and rich in dreams and memories, the book is suffused with images of light and water…Geraldine Harcourt’s translation subtly conveys the narrator’s precarious grip on reality . . . Spiky, atmospheric and intimate, filled with moments of strangeness that linger in the mind like an after-image on the retina, Territory of Light is not a comforting read, but it will touch women across frontiers.” —Lee Langley, The Spectator (London)

“[Territory of Light’s] twelve linked tales of the city are fine-grained to the point of mundanity—finding an apartment, discovering a leak, visiting a park—but in Tsushima’s hands they achieve a deceptive, luminous clarity…In this short, powerful novel lurk the joy and guilt of single parents everywhere.” —Peter Beech, The Guardian

“Reflects, like a crystal, scattered moments in the life of an unnamed mother . . . Bracing, often breathtaking.” —John Self, The Irish Times

Less…

Reviews from Goodreads

Yuko Tsushima; Translated from the Japanese by Geraldine Harcourt

Yuko Tsushima was born in Tokyo in 1947, the daughter of the novelist Osamu Dazai, who took his own life when she was one year old. Her prolific literary career began with her first collection of short stories, Shaniku-sai (Carnival), which she published at the age of twenty-four. She won many awards, including the Izumi Kyoka Prize for Literature (1977), the Kawabata Prize (1983), and the Tanizaki Prize (1998). She died in 2016.

Geraldine Harcourt was awarded the 1990 Wheatland Translation Prize. She is currently working on two books of Yuko Tsushima’s fiction. She lives in New Zealand.

Yuko Tsushima

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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