Author: Atsuko Suga
Illustrator: Komako Sakai
Specifications: ISBN  978-4309016214
80 pages
15.0 x 20.2 cm / 6.0 x 8.0 in (WxH)
Category: Children & YA
Publisher: Kawade Shobo Shinsha, Publishers
Tokyo, 2004
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The late author and translator Atsuko Suga has earned high praise for writings that tread the border between personal essay and short story, and which frequently draw on her extended stay in Italy during the 1960s. Her works continue to win new fans long after her death.

This work is a collection of very short stories about interactions between the first-person narrator, who bears a close resemblance to the author, and a boy she calls Kō-chan. They were originally written for and published in Donguri no tawagoto (An Acorn’s Ramblings), a small periodical publication Suga produced and sent back to Japan while living in Rome in 1960. The germ of her later creative writing is found in this work.

Kō-chan is an enigmatic presence. He seems to be someone, yet also no one; seems to always be present, yet not within sight; seems to have substance, yet perhaps not. The narrator never knows when or where she might encounter him?in an open field covered in morning dew, on a foggy winter morning, beside a pond in the mountains, on a mountain road turned crimson in the sunset, on a bus on a rainy day, at a bookstore just before closing. And yet she knows him well, because they played together as children. And while she?or anyone else, for that matter?cannot know where it is he comes from or to where it is he always disappears, Kō-chan himself seems to have full knowledge of ongoing events when he does put in a sudden appearance to offer up unexpected insights. Could it be that the words attributed to him are in fact the narrator’s own?

In both Japanese and Italian settings tinged by the turn of seasons, the interactions between narrator and Kō-chan are described in poetic, meditative prose. Thirty-one delicate illustrations by Komako Sakai provide a perfect complement in this rare gem of a work.