Picnic in the Storm
By Yukiko Motoya
These eleven surreal tales mark the English-language debut of one of Japan's most fearlessly inventive young writers
Published in the US as The Lonesome Bodybuilder
Winner of the Akutagawa Prize and the Kenzaburo Oe Prize.
'These arresting, hyper-real stories linger in the imagination . . . By the first few sentences, you know you're hearing the voice of a remarkable writer; by the end of [the story] "An Exotic Marriage", you're certain that Yukiko Motoya's shivery, murmuring voice will never completely leave you' Financial Times
'Delightful . . . Fun and funny . . . The style will remind readers of the Japanese authors Banana Yoshimoto and Sayaka Murata, but the stories themselves . . . are reminiscent, at least to this reader, of Joy Williams and Rivka Galchen and George Saunders' The New York Times Book Review
A housewife takes up bodybuilding and sees radical changes to her physique - which her workaholic husband fails to notice. A boy waits at a bus stop, mocking businessmen struggling to keep their umbrellas open in a typhoon - until an old man shows him that they hold the secret to flying. A woman working in a clothing boutique waits endlessly on a customer who won't come out of the fitting room - and who may or may not be human. A newly wed notices that her husband's features are beginning to slide around his face - to match her own.
In these eleven stories, the individuals who lift the curtains of their orderly homes and workplaces are confronted with the bizarre, the grotesque, the fantastic, the alien - and, through it, find a way to liberation. Winner of the Kenzaburo Oe Prize, Picnic in the Storm (published in the US as The Lonesome Bodybuilder) is the English-language debut of one of Japan's most fearless young writers.
'People around the world have been whispering Motoya's name in my ear. Now she's translated into English!' Gary Shteyngart
'Readers who still enjoy fiction for sheer entertainment should get their hands on these stories' The Japan Times
Yukiko Motoya was born in Ishikawa Prefecture in Japan in 1979. After moving to Tokyo to study drama, she started the Motoya Yukiko Theater Company, whose plays she wrote and directed. Her first story, 'Eriko to zettai' appeared in the literary magazine Gunzo in 2002. Motoya won the Noma Prize for New Writers for Warm Poison in 2011; the Kenzaburo Oe Prize for Picnic in the Storm in 2013; the Mishima Prize for How She Learned to Love Herself in 2014; and Japan's most prestigious literary prize, the Akutagawa Prize, for An Exotic Marriage in 2016. Her books have been published or are forthcoming in French, Norwegian, Spanish, and Chinese, and her stories have been published in English in Granta, Words Without Borders, Tender, and Catapult.
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- Publication date:
01 Nov 2018
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Charming, bizarre, and uncanny, PICNIC IN THE STORM is Etgar Keret by way of Yoko Ogawa. I'd follow Yukiko Motoya anywhere she wanted to take me. — Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties
Motoya is a writing talent who's not afraid of doing things her own way . . . Mixing the absurd with the psychological, Motoya takes the reader on flights of fancy that also seem to capture the bizarreness of our own minds, preconceptions and concerns. If you feel like reading something that little bit different this year then these stories are the perfect place to start. — Stylist magazine
11 arresting, hyper-real and delightful stories — Independent i paper
In 11 short stories, Yukiko Motoya pulls back the curtain from everyday lives, to reveal that beneath the most mundane lies a world bizarre and alien — Bustle, 1 of 11 Most Anticipated Books
These arresting, hyper-real stories linger in the imagination . . . By the first few sentences, you know you're hearing the voice of a remarkable writer; by the end of [the story] "An Exotic Marriage", you're certain that Yukiko Motoya's shivery, murmuring voice will never completely leave you. — Financial Times
Delightful . . . At face value, the stories are fun and funny to read, but weightier questions lurk below the surface. . . . The writing itself is to be admired . . . Certainly the style will remind readers of the Japanese authors Banana Yoshimoto and Sayaka Murata, but the stories themselves - and the logic, or lack thereof, within their sentences - are reminiscent, at least to this reader, of Joy Williams and Rivka Galchen and George Saunders. — Weike Wang, The New York Times Book Review
Channeling the surrealist spirit of Banana Yoshimoto and Aimee Bender, Yukiko Motoya's trippy debut story collection alchemizes commonplace frustrations - a malfunctioning umbrella in a downpour, a tedious meeting - into marvelous allegories. . . . Weird and wonderful — Michelle Hart, O, The Oprah Magazine
The stories are funny and creepy; they have a campfire vibe, a brush of the moonless night. . . . The tales boil down to the problem of balancing empathy with self-assertion - of both practicing kindness and expressing your own needs, and all while the people around you are behaving like wraiths or aliens. Motoya's protagonists feel quietly radical in a literary moment that seems particularly interested in unpacking various forms of narcissism. They treat the importance of others' inner lives as a given. . . . Meanwhile, the reader watches each transformation and stab at connection. She becomes the bulge in the curtain, the shadow on the other side of the glass-the strange one. — The New Yorker
I wish I could live inside a Yukiko Motoya book. Her perception and wisdom make the everyday experience feel magical and weird and the strangest experience seem strangely familiar — Etgar Keret, author of Missing Kissinger