March was made of yarn – Writers respond to Japan’s Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear meltdown
c. Elmer Luke 2012, for other c. please see publication.
Wow, just typing that as a writer makes me feel as if I am launching into an apocalyptic tale about the end of the world as we know it. Sadly, this isn’t fiction. Well, it is, some of it.
In 2011 March 11th, a 9.0 earthquake just off the coast of Japan, triggered a 50ft tsunami. This book contains “…pieces – fiction and non-fiction, poetry and manga…an artistic record of a disaster which raises questions for all of us who live in the modern world.”
I must be honest and say not all the works in here made total sense to me, I think they maybe lost a little in translation, or possibly because of the very specific cultural references that I as a westerner didn’t quite grasp. None the less the book was easy to read in one sense, a ‘dip in and out’ type read; extremely hard to read in another sense as it details life and death situations so recent in memory. It was sometimes difficult to immediately get which articles were fiction and which fact but all were moving and thought provoking and all the better for the initial confusion. I think we in the West were, for once, protected from the horror to some extent by the media and Japan’s capable independence in handling the tragedy. This book brings it full force into your consciousness. A few highlights that stood out for me,
Hideo Furukawa’s stark but matter of fact description of life after a nuclear disaster:
“We go back to the hotel and immediately shower, first my wife, then me. Common sense. Because our exposure to the rain carries with it the danger of exposure to radioactivity. Then we sleep”
Brother & Sister Nishioka’s brilliantly profound “The crows and the girl”
and Tetsuya Akikawa’s fantastical tale of a hamster driven power station – brilliant! I may be slightly biased there as when I was younger I spent many a sleepless night listening to my pet hamster hidden in the kitchen cupboard in an attempt to stop her running around her wheel all night (it failed she was truly nocturnal and only slept from the moment I opened the cupboard at breakfast time!) Only one who has suffered such insomnia can truly appreciate how noisy a caged beast can be at 3am, and how brilliant this writer’s concept.
I do feel slightly guilty about buying this book at Waterstones as it was in their bargain sale bucket. I know, there’s something a little bit wrong about buying a charity book in a sale. I did drop off a huge bag of clothes at the charity shop on the way to the bookstore though, so maybe that keeps my karma inline etc.
If you get chance to pick this up, do not hesitate. It is not a cheerful read, however I do feel it brings home just a little of how Japan dealt with it’s own disaster, and how it continues forward. If you are planning a trip to Japan I think this is a compulsory purchase.
The funds are donated to “charities working towards the reconstruction of NorthEastern Japan”
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