Born into the burakumin—Japan’s class of outcasts—Kenji Nakagami depicts the lives of his people in sensual language and stark detail. The Cape is a breakthrough novella about a burakumin community, their troubled memories, and complex family histories. Includes House on Fire and Red Hair.
Kenji Nakagami (1946–92) was a prolific writer admired for his vigorous prose style.
The tree reminded him of himself. Akiyuki didn't know what kind of tree it was, and he didn't care. The tree had no flowers or fruit. It spread its branches to the sun, it trembled in the wind. That's enough, he thought. The tree doesn't need flowers or fruit. It doesn't need a name.Unfortunately, the third story here ("Red Hair") is a disappointment--the kind of cheerless, one-note erotica that makes sex look like a torture devised by Existentialist philosophers. No matter; grand, tragic, and structurally complex, "The Cape" and "House on Fire" contain enough Freudian drama between them to keep a pair of Faulkner scholars obsessed for weeks. Skillfully translated by Eve Zimmerman (who also provides a preface, afterword, and helpful family tree), this is fiction of explosive power and formal daring. --Mary Park