Ms Ice Sandwich – Mieko Kawakami [Pushkin Press] 2017
‘The only people in the whole world who know about Ms Ice Sandwich are me and Grandma.’
In this slender volume, a junior high school develops a tentative relationship with a mysterious shop worker who is never mentioned by name, yet begins to maintain a hold on the boy as he struggles with other problems of growing up.
If your awareness of Japanese literature only goes as far as manga comics, you may be surprised to see that there are several up-and-coming Japanese writers whose works have been translated in English, such as this one.
Whilst it’s a short and simple story, there are some nice emotion and details. The teenage protagonist comes across as naive, especially when his female classmate invites him to come to her house and watch a film. This makes up an extended passage, where the girl re-enacts one of the set piece shoot-outs from the Michael Mann film ‘Heat’.
Otherwise, its a gentle story, all told from the point of view of the young narrator who has an interesting relationship with everyone around him, including his grandmother, who is on hand to offer an older perspective on life around him.
Published by Pushkin Press, in English.