There Yui meets the widowed Takeshi, whose daughter Hana has been dumbstruck since losing her mother. What unfolds is a whimsical, moving and uplifting anatomisation of grief and the small miraculous moments that persuade people to start looking forward again.
Sensitively translated, this is a poignant, atmospheric novel dealing with love, coming to terms with loss and the restoration of one’s self.
It would have been interesting to hear more about how emotional healing works in Japan’s famously formal society, especially coming from an author rooted in the very different Italian tradition, but Yui’s story is too specific to be parsed into a wider cultural landscape. So restrained and unsentimental is this novel that it’s hard to imagine anyone getting terribly upset over it, despite the subject matter. However, its meditative minimalism makes it a striking haiku of the human heart: short, slow and deceptively full.
After losing her mum and daughter in the tsunami, Yui hears about a telephone box hears about a telephone box where people speak to lost loved ones...