Vitamin F
Author: Kiyoshi Shigematsu
Specifications: ISBN  978-4101349152
362 pages
10.6 x 15.2 cm / 4.2 x 6.1 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Shinchosha Publishing Co., Ltd.
Tokyo, 2000
Awards: Naoki Prize, 2000
Buy now:


Inspired by the idea that there should be works of literature that act like vitamins for the human soul, author Kiyoshi Shigematsu writes that he crafted these linked works around key words beginning with F: family, father, friend, fight, fragile, and fortune. Set in contemporary Japan following the collapse of the bubble economy, each story examines, primarily from the fathers' perspectives, the rifts that form in seven separate families of couples and their children. The fathers, aged around 40, suffer from anxiety and unease. One of them has no idea how to deal with his son while his wife is in the hospital for an operation. Another discovers his 14-year-old daughter shoplifting with her boyfriend, further learning that the two may already have slept together. Still another has seen his relationship with his wife go irreparably wrong, but the two of them maintain the appearance of being content together while in the presence of their children. And the variations go on.

The protagonist in one of the pieces, a 37-year-old man, wonders: "Is this what my life has turned out to be? Well damn, that's disappointing. Makes me want to click my tongue in disgust. But it's not as though I can go back to try again." He thinks about what his own father had been like at the same age and casts his thoughts forward to the future that awaits his son when he also turns 37.

Once the rifts that have formed in a family become apparent, there is no returning to the past when things seemed so secure. The works in this collection are both an offering of parental love and a cry of encouragement to all people who go on living their tomorrows in the face of this realization.