Tossed Out on August Streets

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Tossed Out on August Streets
Author: Takami Ito
Specifications: ISBN  978-4163254005
122 pages
12.8 x 18.8 cm / 5.1 x 7.5 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Bungeishunju Ltd.
Tokyo, 2006
Awards: Akutagawa Prize, 2006
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This novella follows a day in the life of Tokyo route drivers Mizuki and Atsushi as they make their rounds of vending machines in their two-ton truck, putting in soft drinks and taking out money and empty cans. Today, August 31, is a benchmark for both: after this Mizuki, the more experienced employee and a divorced mother of two sons, is being transferred to a desk job, while Atsushi, a male part-timer, is taking his 30th birthday tomorrow as the occasion to file for divorce from his wife of four years. The pair go about their routine in muggy, bustling Shinjuku, prodded along by Mizuki’s determination to set a new record for the fastest round on this, her final day. While they work Mizuki pesters Atsushi to talk about his divorce, and so Atsushi relates the entire story of his relationship with his wife, Chieko, from their first encounter in college through life together and their ultimate decision to separate. Atsushi had once dreamed of becoming a film screenwriter, Chieko a magazine editor. Although Chieko later succeeded in switching to the career she wanted, overwork soon drove her to quit and she grew increasingly unstable; forced to support them both, Atsushi took on the route-driver job but, utterly worn out, finally sought solace in the arms of a beautician. He had let his dreams “drain away on the Shinjuku roadsides along with my sweat,” as he puts it. Through Atsushi, this very contemporary tale gives voice to those who struggle with work all the more for their earnest attitude toward life. The accompanying short story, Kai kara miru fukei (Scene from a Seashell), portrays the uneasy relationship of a young married couple.