Eine kleine Nachtmusik

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Eine kleine Nachtmusik
Author: Kōtaro Isaka
Specifications: ISBN  978-4344026292
285 pages
13.5 x 19.5 cm / 5.4 x 7.8 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Gentosha Inc.
Tokyo, 2014
Agents: Cork, Inc.
Buy now: amazon.co.jp


Characters who play a supporting role in one tale become central figures in another in this collection of six short stories. Linked across a span of some 20 years, they center on connections and missed connections between men and women.

The first and title story is narrated by a 27-year-old IT manager named Satō, who works for a market survey company. He is performing maintenance and repairs on the company’s servers after hours one night, when his boss Fujima goes completely to pieces over the disappearance of his wife and child, and damages some equipment. On top of that, Satō spills his coffee and causes a loss of client data. As punishment, he is relegated to pounding the pavement and asking random passersby to respond to questionnaires. It turns out to be a blessing in disguise: the man who has been complaining that he hasn’t had a girlfriend in ages, and never has a chance to meet anyone new, hits it off with a charming young woman he meets on his rounds.

The protagonist of the second story is a 27-year-old beautician named Minako?another person who laments the lack of romance in her life. Her customer Kasumi introduces her to Manabu, her younger brother, but all Manabu ever does is call Minako on the phone. While she does enjoy their conversations, Minako finds it difficult to take the initiative herself towards anything more, and the two never actually go out together. In time she learns that Manabu is a boxer training for a world heavyweight title match; Kasumi tells Minako he intends to ask her to be his girlfriend if he wins the match. Kasumi and Minako watch the match together on TV, and Manabu is indeed victorious.

In subsequent stories Minako and Manabu get married. A return match the following year ends with Manabu yielding the title to the boxer he won it from, but ten years later he is once again scheduled to fight for the title.

Characters wounded or saved by the subtlest turns of phrase falling from the lips of another come to understand, over time, the true meaning of events, as author Kōtaro Isaka deftly reconstructs six slices of ordinary life with an acute eye for the telling detail.