Wednesday 17 November 2021

Short Story ChapBook Review: Friendship For Grown-Ups by Nao-Cola Yamazaki, translated by Polly Barton

Friendship For Grown-Ups Friendship For Grown-Ups by Nao-Cola Yamazaki
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my first read from this series of chapbooks beautifull produced by a collaboration between University of East Anglia (famous for its writing MA) , Writers' Centre Norwich, and Norwich University of the Arts - see

Nao-Cola Yamazaki was not a familiar writer to me, her 3 stories in this chapbook are all translated by Polly Barton, see , who is the translator of a few Japanese women writers that are on my to be read list.

The 3 three linked stories total 45 pages and are bound in an 'arty' cover somewhat reminiscent of the 70s and are introduced with a Foreward written by surreal short story writer Aimee Bender.

The first story, entitled "A Genealogy", is a downright 'weird' meditation on evolution and the genealogical lineage to the character of Kandagawa.

In the second story, entitled "The Untouchable apartment" we again meet Kandagawa whose somewhat dream like state is interrupted by a phone call from her previous boyfriend, Mano. They end up going to see their old apartment which now no longer exists, just like their relationship. They spend the day together but Kandagawa realises she is no longer the girl she was when they were together four years ago - not quite Jesse and Celine or Before Sunrise / Before Midnight.

"Lose your Private Life" , the third story is about a young women Terumi Yano, writing under a pseudonym of Waterumi Yano, as she struggles to come with what this means for her identity as she becomes more well known as a writer, how new people she meets will only know Waterumi and never again know the Teruni that her university friends Mano and Kandagawa know.

These weren't stories that 'blew me away' but at points did intrigue me. I thought about whether there was an autobiographical element to the final one or whether this was a clever slight of words illusion on the part of the author for example when she had Waterumi's book be entitled "Friendship for Grown-ups"

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