S is for Sensuous

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Strange Weather In Tokyo

Hiromi Kawakami

Fiction, 179 pages

I’ve always been a sucker for the movie Lost in Translation, Sophia Coppola’s love letter to Tokyo. The scene where Scarlett Johansen puts her head on Bill Murray’s shoulder—Strange Weather in Tokyo is 179 pages of that feeling. The novel captures the joy of relationships, the unexpected nature of coupling, the bizarre back and forth of authentic partnerships.

This novel is not magic realism or speculative fiction. The cover art from Natsumi Nayashi is awesome, but this is not Marquez or 1Q84. Ms. Kawakami plays it straight and I like the realism here.

I still remember the pneumonic from my 11th grade English class for sensual vs. sensuous. L for lust; S for senses. Strange Weather in Tokyo is all S: glorious food abounds, beer and sake, the joy of being near someone, the pleasures of nature, more beer and sake.