Devouring Each Other

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Devouring Each Other
Author: Shinya Tanaka
Specifications: ISBN  978-4087714470
140 pages
13.8 x 19.0 cm / 5.5 x 7.6 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Shueisha Inc.
Tokyo, 2012
Awards: Akutagawa Prize, 2011
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An element of suspense runs through this tale of a psychosexual battle between father and son. The time is July 1988, when protagonist Toma is 17; the place is the small country town where he lives with his impoverished father and Kotoko, his father's lover, in a house by a river tainted with sewage. Toma's mother, who lost her right hand as a child during World War II, lives nearby and runs a small fish shop; she left her husband when she was no longer willing to put up with the violence he subjected her to during sex. Toma visits her regularly. Toma has a girlfriend, Chigusa, who is a year older and with whom he hooks up for sex on a daily basis. One day Kotoko tells Toma she is pregnant with his father's child and is moving out. Toma chokes Chigusa during sex and they quarrel; he then has sex with a woman living in a nearby apartment who is involved with his father, and behaves violently with her as well. Much as he despises his father, Toma realizes he is following in his footsteps and hates himself for it; he itches to leave town, but can't. On a festival day in August, heavy rains hit the town. When the father learns from Toma that Kotoko is pregnant and has left the house, he goes in search of her, then rapes Chigusa at a shrine. Toma relates this to his mother, who heads out into the rain to kill her husband. She accomplishes this using a kitchen knife and her prosthetic hand, then dumps him in the river. The film version of the story, titled Backwater, won the Boccalino Award and Youth Jury Award at the Locarno International Film Festival in 2013.

The volume also contains the Akutagawa-nominated Daisankiso no sakana (Tertiary Fish Fossils), a portrayal of a ten-year-old boy at the deathbed of his great-grandfather, who was sent off to war three times during his life.