Book review: Where The Dead Pause And The Japanese Say Goodbye

AFTER she died, my aunt returned to my mother in a dream to say: “Don’t worry about me. I’m all right.”

Marie Mutsuki Mockett

WW Norton & Company, €21.55;

ebook, €7.82

On the evidence of Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s memoir, no-one in Japan would find this surprising.

It’s a country where Buddhist, Shinto and shamanistic beliefs survive alongside cutting-edge technology, and where a priest will happily put two robotic vacuum cleaners to work ceaselessly cleaning the floor of his centuries-old building.

The author is a Japanese American whose mother’s family have for generations administered a small Buddhist temple on the edge of what is now the exclusion zone related to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Trapped between two cultures, she has written an odd, revealing and at times very painful book

However, the narrative is ultimately consoling.


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