People From My Neighbourhood (ARC)
Author: Hiromi Kawakami
Publisher: Granta Books
Released: August 6th, 2020
Genre: Short stories
Format: ARC (Paperback)
Take a story and shrink it. Make it tiny, so small it can fit in the palm of your hand. Carry the story with you everywhere, let it sit with you while you eat, let it watch you while you sleep. Keep it safe, you never know when you might need it. In Kawakami’s super short ‘palm of the hand’ stories the world is never quite as it should be: a small child lives under a sheet near his neighbour’s house for thirty years; an apartment block leaves its visitors with strange afflictions, from fast-growing beards to an ability to channel the voices of the dead; an old man has two shadows, one docile, the other rebellious; two girls named Yoko are locked in a bitter rivalry to the death. Small but great, you’ll find great delight spending time with the people in this neighbourhood.
I think this would be one of the hardest book to review. I literally have no idea how to break my thoughts down. I always have mixed feelings about short stories collection, whereby I like some and I dislike some. However, for People from My Neighbourhood, surprisingly, I love all of the stories. Despite the stories being unreal, I found myself drawn into the story telling.
The writing style is straightforward, easy to be read. I think some of the stories have hidden meaning which I am not able to dissect further. But overall, the stories bring you into this community with different people, with various background and beliefs. Their personality are peculiar as well. We have this old man with 2 shadows, a girl who can imitate the voices of the dead, music house that no one is able to describe well despite having been into it, a boy named Hachiro who stays with different family every few months because his family couldn’t afford to take care of his needs, and many more.
When I first started reading, I thought all of the stories are on their own but then I realised, they are connected through the characters that make appearances across the stories. That is how one knows the stories are coming from the same place, involving the same community. Some of the stories in later part of the book also features drastic changes in them. For instance, Pigeonitis talks about this weird contagious disease and almost the whole town was affected but as fast as it spreads, it dies down pretty fast and everything is back to normal. I found these stories simply bizarre but I believe there are underlying messages behind all of them.
This book also highlights on loneliness, consequences of certain actions and/or events, beliefs, society’s perception and reaction on certain issues and how fast one could change their opinion because everyone else is saying so, and honestly, there are so much more.
Overall, I’m thankful that I came across this book and got the chance to read micro-fiction because 3-4 pages short stories are such life savers for slow readers! I’d definitely recommend this book and I believe that this book is already out in all good bookstores since the publication date was on the 6th of August, but if not yet, please be patient, I’m pretty sure it’s gonna hit the shelves soon.
Thank you Definitely Books for sending this ARC in exchange for an honest review.