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Yakuza Moon: Memoirs of a Gangster’s Daughter by Shoko Tendo, translated by Louise Heal [in San Francisco Chronicle]

Yakuza Moon

Schadenfreude, of German origin, means joy at someone’s distress or misfortune – surely not the best of human reactions. But publishers have turned misery into a veritable gold mine with an endless array of voyeuristic best-sellers. From royals to ragamuffins, from addicts to abusers, exposés line bookshelves. One thing’s for certain: Readers can take comfort –  yes, take joy, even –  in knowing that their lives will never be quite that disastrous.

Yakuza Moon by Shoko Tendo is yet another addition to the schadenfreude genre. A best-seller in Japan in 2004, Moon is Schaden-voll, to say the least. Hollywood has had a heyday depicting the yakuza –  the Japanese mob –  and Tendo’s memoir does little to dispel the image of the cruel, violent, power-driven mobster life.

As the third of four children born to a mobster boss prone to violence, Tendo spends her childhood as a much-bullied pariah, unable to shake “the yakuza kid” label. As a schoolgirl, she loses all trust in adults after barely fighting off molestation by a young yakuza from her father’s gang. Her father is jailed, and upon his release, he becomes a violent drunk who comes home nightly escorted by bar hostesses. He abuses his wife, trashes their once-luxurious home and remembers nothing in the morning. …[click here to read more]

Review: San Francisco Chronicle, July 6, 2007

“Windows: Asian Literature in Translation: New & Notable Books,” The Bloomsbury Review, September/October 2007

Readers: Adult

Published: 2007 (United States)



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