Translated from the original Portuguese by Sarah Green
In a station of the metro in Rio de Janeiro, where both live, illustrator Haruki and artisan Celina meet by chance—and soon decide, however improbably, to travel together to Japan. Their shared destination: the famous Rakushisha, or Hut of Fallen Persimmons, where seventeenth-century haiku master Matsuo Bashō once stayed. Their trip to Kyoto provides a context for each to meditate on the past, their feelings for each other, and questions of cultural difference. Through a counterpoint of narration and text, the pair’s losses and struggles gradually unfold.
Bashō’s haiku brilliantly mold the novel’s structure. Bashō’s translator in Brazil, readers learn, is Haruki’s great unrequited love, and Celina’s sad eyes conceal a tragedy in her own life. In this exquisitely woven novel, meant to be cradled in both hands as the Japanese might hold a precious object, the characters’ every gesture, reflection, and self-revelation are manifest.
About the Author
Adriana Lisboa, born in Rio de Janeiro, holds degrees in music and literature and has worked as a flautist, Brazilian Jazz singer, and music teacher. The author of ten widely translated books, including five novels and a collection of short stories, she was awarded the José Saramago Prize in 2003 for Sinfonia em branco (Symphony in White, TTUP, 2009). Her books have been published in France, Italy, Sweden, and Mexico, among other countries, and she has translated into Portuguese such authors as Cormac McCarthy and Marilynne Robinson. She currently lives in Colorado.
A touching narrative about two characters joined by chance by the poet Matsuo Basho, in a poetic novel where a voyage to Japan is also a metaphysical and an introspective journey to their pasts.
Adriana Lisboa presents us a moving story of loss written in the simplicity that reveals the elegance and beauty of her lyrical prose. Her novel intertwines present character lives with the Japanese poet Bashõ’s days in Saga, Kyoto. The result is as much poetic as a perfect haikai.