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Picnic in the Storm

Picnic in the Storm

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
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Genre: Fiction & Related Items / Fiction: Special Features / Short Stories

On Sale: 1st October 2019

Price: £12.99

ISBN-13: 9781472154347

Reviews

Playful and eerie and utterly enchanting, Yukiko Motoya's stories are like fun-house mazes built to get lost in, where familiar shapes and features from the everyday world are revealed to you as if for the first time, twisted into marvelously odd shapes. These eleven stories possess a mundanely magical logic all their own, surprising and entirely absorbing.
Alexandra Kleeman
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
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
Motoya [has a] gift for making the ordinary magical.
BBC Culture
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
Arresting, hyper-real and delightful stories
Independent
Incredibly enjoyable stories
Daily Mail
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
Ingenious stories
The Guardian
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
I could never try to explain Yukiko Motoya's stories. For me, the joy of reading fiction isn't to analyze it, but to feel it in my body. In that sense, her writing offers enormous satisfaction to the sensitive organ inside me that is attuned to the pleasure of reading
Hiromi Kawakami, author of The Nakano Thrift Shop and Strange Weather in Tokyo
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
Motoya is brilliant at finding the weirdness that lurks under the everyday
Stylist
Unsettlingly good
The Sunday Times
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
I was impressed by how each story has a different idea, none being mere variations on a theme. It's not a book to consume in one sitting. Read carelessly and you run the risk of ending up flat on your back with no idea of what just hit you. It dawned on me that in these pieces, Motoya, already well-known for theater, was trying to achieve in fiction the gamut of what can't be done on stage. Reading this made me want to sit down and get to work. This is a collection that is provocative to writers as well
Yasutaka Tsutsui, author of Paprika
Readers who still enjoy fiction for sheer entertainment should get their hands on these stories.
The Japan Times
These uncanny stories surprise, unnerve and haunt
Spectator
People around the world have been whispering Motoya's name in my ear. Now she's translated into English!
Gary Shteyngart
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
11 arresting, hyper-real and delightful stories
Independent i paper
After tasting the delightful surprises in each story in this varied collection, I felt not as though I had passed through a gallery hung with individual talents, but that I had seen at one glance the irrepressible formation of an artist
Kenzaburo Oe