Young women in their twenties, emigrants, and men and women of middle and advanced age variously fall in love or come to important crossroads in their lives in this volume of 13 stories set in a town on the Pacific coast of the Bōsō Peninsula, which borders Tokyo Bay on the east. Pieces of music and translated stories play key roles in illuminating the characters’ thoughts and feelings.
The story “O Grande Amor” features the song of that name composed by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes and included on the landmark 1964 bossa nova album Getz/Gilberto, an international bestseller.
Kenji Ikushima is a sixtyish jazz pianist known for his soft touch on the keyboard. He has had to cut back on his schedule since going through a major illness a decade earlier, and now plays a dinner show just three months out of the year at a resort hotel run by his college-era bandmate Miyano. While in town, he visits a local bar, where he becomes acquainted with a lovely, somewhat mysterious woman in her forties, and he gets to talking with her about bossa nova music.
Thinking perhaps she will come to hear him play at the hotel if he plays bossa nova, he asks Miyano to let him select his own music for a week under the condition that if he fails to draw at least ten locals to the show, including the beauty from the bar, he will give up playing after this year . . .
The situations and characters portrayed in the stories are diverse. One protagonist has ended up in the coastal town more or less by accident near the end of life, another has lived there since birth, and yet another is preparing to leave. A pianist, a retired pearl diver, a homemaker, and so on?people who have always tried to live their lives straight and true come together or part, run into difficulties, or are otherwise called upon to make fateful choices about their futures.
Author Yūzaburō Otokawa extends his reputation as a master of period fiction into the realm of contemporary fiction. Though the historical time frame has changed, the deftness with which he coaxes out the subtleties of life remains the same, and every story continues to resonate well past its closing lines. It is a tour de force collection in which Otokawa puts the full range of his skills on display.