Inhabitation by Teru Miyamoto, translated by Roger K. Thomas [in Booklist]
The original Japanese title, 春の夢 [Haru no yume], visible in blue on the cover, translates to “spring dream.” “Cherry blossom petals” opens Teru Miyamoto’s latest novel translated into English, which ends (penultimately) with “spring light.” In between, a year goes by that is part dream, part nightmare, part surreality.
University student Iryō Tetsuyuki moves to Osaka’s outskirts to avoid vicious creditors determined to collect his late father’s debts. During the first night in his dingy apartment, he inadvertently impales a lizard with a nail he intends to use as a hat hook. With the light of morning, he’s shocked to discover that the lizard is still alive. Over the year, Tetsuyuki feeds and waters the trapped lizard, even naming him Kin, making him confessor and witness to Tetsuyuki’s daily life, including his relationships with his well-to-do girlfriend, his mother (who is also forced into partial hiding), and his colleagues at the hotel at which he works part-time.
Originally published in 1985, Miyamoto’s depiction of a young man’s struggles, minus today’s pernicious ubiquity of social media, remains surprisingly relevant and resonant.
Review: “Fiction,” Booklist, July 2019
Published: 1985 (Japan), 2019 (United States)