Author: Mariko Asabuki
Specifications: ISBN  978-4103284628
141 pages
12.4 x 19.0 cm / 5.0 x 7.6 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Shinchosha Publishing Co., Ltd.
Tokyo, 2011
Awards: Akutagawa Prize, 2010
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The title merges the names of the women protagonists, Kiko and Towako, who first meet as children in Hayama, a quiet seaside resort near Tokyo. Kiko is the daughter of Haruko, who owns an old villa there, while Towako is the child of the villa's local caretaker. Towako bonds with Kiko's family in the limited time they spend at the villa every summer up through 1984, when Kiko is eight and Towako fifteen. The next year Haruko dies of heart trouble, and the two girls do not meet again until 25 years later when the villa is about to be demolished. Towako is now 40 with a husband and daughter, while Kiko, who has just broken off a relationship with a married man, is still single and about to pass the age that her mother was when she died. The tale opens in the past with the women sitting together in the backseat of Haruko's car, their skin touching so that "gradually their two sets of arms and legs, their hair and even their shadows seemed to intertwine, until they no longer knew what belonged to whom." As the women go about sorting the mementos in the villa, their recollections likewise cross and mingle, and it becomes increasingly unclear who actually experienced which memory. Through her careful crafting of the figures of the two women at key life stages, Asabuki explores themes of time and remembrance, weaving together an ambitious work reminiscent of Marcel Proust.