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Yoko Ogawa’s Revenge is also a collection of short stories. Revenge is the age-old perennial premise in many narratives and Ogawa’s treatment doesn’t go through the usual tropes. Her prose is elegant and twisted at the same time. I can’t say it as good as the synopsis… Ogawa weaves a dark and beautiful narrative that pulls together a seemingly disconnected cast of characters… The stories are linked through recurring images and motifs, as each story follows on from the one before while simultaneously introducing new characters and themes. Filled with breathtaking images, Ogawa provides us with a slice of life that is resplendent in its chaos, enthralling in its passion and chilling in its cruelty.

I love how she connects the stories in such a subtle manner. At times I feel that after the ending of a story, there will be a coda or an epilogue in the next story which can amaze, sadden and surprise me. I never once felt it is manipulative or trying to be clever, and the stories are so engaging that I don’t want to see the nuts and bolts behind the story. The reason that prompted me to write a short write-up was a paragraph about bags. This is so surreal because last week in Tokyo, 3 guys and a gal went shopping for bags. Actually we were just tagging along with the gal, taking a break from CD hunting. It was a really interesting journey. We alighted at a train station, walked through a cemetery lined both sides with cherry blossom trees which would probably look amazing when in full bloom, and right at the end is the shop. In it we saw numerous handmade masterpieces which we won’t find anywhere else. We stayed there for an hour and walked out with 3 bags. Now read this eloquent paragraph about what is so special about bags…

You may be thinking that a bag is just a thing in which to put other things. And you’re right, of course. But that’s what makes them so extraordinary. A bag has no intentions or desires of its own, it embraces every object that we ask it to hold. You trust the bag, and it, in return, trusts you. To me, a bag is patience; a bag is profound discretion.

Maybe this is the reason why gals love bags. Anyway the story is about this lady who prides herself with the ability to make exquisite bags for any occasion and to hold anything, ANYTHING. One fine day a lady steps in and requests the bag-maker to make her a bag to put a heart in it. What a brilliant premise… I know what you are thinking… She wants a bag to put her unfaithful lover’s heart. You are very far from what it is about.

PS – If you have enjoyed this anthology, I would highly recommend The Housekeeper + The Professor. Haven’t gotten round to writing a review yet because words continue to elude me.

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