Echo on the Bay by Masatsugu Ono, translated by Angus Turvill [in Booklist]
Masatsugu Ono’s second novel, originally published in his native Japan as Nigiyakana wan ni seowareta fune (Boat on a Choppy Bay), won the prestigious Mishima Yukio Prize, and now arrives Anglophoned by award-winning Angus Turvill, who also translated Ono’s Lion’s Tread Point (2018). Ono, too, is a lauded translator who, as a Paris-PhDed Francophone professor, enables Japanese readers access to such relevant contemporary writers as Marie Ndiaye.
With Ono and Turvill’s combined heightened linguistic sensitivity, the English title is an exquisite reduction of a slim, albeit mighty, narrative that begins comically wry and ends with shocking resonance, not unlike a protracted echo. When “Dad” is stationed as the new, and only, police officer in a coastal village, his predecessor gleefully promises, “Nothing serious happens,” but “somebody [will be] drinking at your house every single night.”
Indeed, the policeman and his less-than-willing family never lack for company. The regular locals include a harmless drunk, upcoming election candidates, and a chorus of non-working disability-collecting men dubbed the “Silica Four.” Listening in is Miki, the policeman’s tween daughter, who also narrates and casually reveals an ongoing affair with her 24-year-old teacher.
The stories quickly turn dark, echoing far beyond in time and location, reverberating with evidence of horrific inhumanity. Understated, yet unforgettably stunning.
Review: “Fiction,” Booklist, May 1, 2020
Published: 2015 (Japan), 2020 (United States)